Johannesburg is set to play host to South Africa’s first EcoMobility Festival, but before it’s even started, some eyebrows have been raised.
The summit is due to kick off on the first day of October, stretching out through the month. The aim of the event is promote alternative sources to fossil-fuel transport
Johannesburg’s Executive Mayor, Mpho Parks Tau, said that “the Festival will demonstrate to the world that an ecomobile future is possible and that public transport, walking and cycling can be accessible, safe and attractive.”
He added: “Decongesting our cities in general and the Sandton CBD is not only possible, it is essential if we want to continue to move freely in urban environments.”
But that is exactly where the problem comes in: Sandton CBD will be decongested, but all other roads are set to be grid-locked with traffic trying to make their way around one of the richest square miles on the continent.
To promote the use of public transport, the city has unveiled the final version of its Transport Management Plan – and its not looking good.
For starters, a loop (the pink route on the map below) will be created around Sandton which will encompass Fifth, Rivonia and joining up with Fredman Drive.
“One of the street lanes will be taken way and the sidewalk broadened. This will serve as temporary infrastructure during October 2015, but will become a permanent feature in Sandton from June 2016.”
West Street will be turned into a cycle and walking lane, with limited access to EcoMobility vehicles and workers in the are that need access – it will also have managed access points at both ends.
For most roads, which includes Alice, Maude, Stella and Gwen Lane, access will only be given to drivers who work in the area.
Tau and the City of Johannesburg isn’t completely oblivious to the disruption it is going to cause, but it is sure it won’t be as bad as people think.
“Changing the use of identified streets will lead to a certain level of ‘discomfort’ for people entering Sandton but will not create ‘dysfunctionality’. The discomfort and inconvenience caused by the closures will be matched by the comfort of using public transport, walking and cycling around Sandton.”
The summit added that the closures of roads and widening of the sidewalks will form part of a larger scale operation in an effort to get people to use public transport.
“The changes introduced during the Festival are the start of process of long term changes. The streets will now begin to give dignity to pedestrians, access to cyclists and safety to public transport users.”
We are all for making use of sustainable energy, renewable energy and finding alternative sources of fuel, but while the City of Johannesburg has the right idea, we think its execution could have been slightly better.
[Image – CC by 2.0/Theen Moy]