From an eight-month delay in signing a contract with the City of Cape Town to the denial of a permit after four months of hard work in engaging local residents and businesses in the Southern Peninsula, it has been a year of hard lessons. But the most important lesson is that introducing a new concept to any group of people requires perseverance and understanding the system; especially when you want to help change it.
As most of you know, we were unable to obtain a permit to get automobiles out of the street on Main Road between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. Beyond the difficulties with the permit process, this is indicative of the culture we accept as "normal". As long as there is enough parking and cars can move in the spaces they are used to, the city can go undisturbed; but if priorities are reversed, and pedestrians are given the right of way (imagine!); the system is unable to respond and simply rejects any possibility. Ironically, taking cars out of the street only reduces risk, but convincing authorities that this is indeed the case takes more than an application form. It takes experimenting in the space to assess what the impact could be and inviting people to experience different rules of engagement.
For this to effectively happen policy needs to change and in that vein we are working with others to revisit the Events Bylaw. In the meanwhile we must work within the existing framework to create temporary spaces that enable us to push boundaries.
Indeed, Open Streets on Bree on 18 January will not just be an event. It will be a platform where we can experiment together and engage with our city differently for long-term change.