African stakeholders discuss Open Streets

By on 11/01/2018

Training Session on the Open Streets Toolkit that OSCT has prepared as a step-by-step guide to organize Open Streets Events (photo credit: Sophia Suender, TUMI, 2018)

Cape Town, 1 November 2018– For the first time, African government officials, representatives of NGOs and street enthusiasts came together to learn from and share experiences on the concept of Open Streets and Placemaking in Cape Town, South Africa, from 22-28 October, 2018. The Open Streets Exchange was organised by Open Streets Cape Town (OSCT) and UN-Habitat’s Urban Mobility Unit – with support from GIZ through the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) Challenge.

The participants representing governments, civil society and activists from various countries from the African continent including Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia, came together for one week to discuss the vast experience of the Cape Town based NGO (OSCT) in promoting active mobility and streets as public spaces, enabling more cohesive communities. Participants were carefully selected based on their letter of motivation, outlining their current involvement in and commitment to Non-Motorized Transport (NMT) and Placemaking.

Bicycle tour through Khayelitsha, a partially informal township in Cape Town (photo credit: UN-Habitat, 2018)

The programme provided a combination of dialogue sessions, interaction and practice on topics around planning, facilitating and implementing Open Streets initiatives but also provided insights into Cape Town’s integrated mobility planning, Bus Rapid Transit system, and efforts to promote walking and cycling. Experts and speakers came from various institutions including Open Streets Cape Town, University of Cape Town – Center for Transport Studies, Transport and Urban Development Authority, HHO Consulting Engineers (Pty) Ltd, Trans2 Logistics Solutions, Wuppertal Institute, UN-Habitat, ABCD Concepts, and UpCycles.

During her opening remarks, Marcela Guerrero Casas, Managing Director, Open Streets Cape Town, emphasized the nature of workshop to be an “exchange” and not a “training”. She further iterated that “although OSCT has five years of experience in orchestrating this type of intervetions, there is a lot for us to learn from the experience and advice from other African cities. We are very excited to have you all here – this will be the beginning of a collective journey and the start of an African network.”

Stefanie Holzwarth, Urban Mobility Unit, UN-Habitat, further emphasized the need for safe streets as a contribution towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda, particularly on goals around road safety, accessibility, and air pollution. “By embracing concepts around pedestrianization and cycling, cities can create shared places that contribute to accessibility and safety and embody respect for all urban residents”, she explained during the training session.

The theoretical workshop sessions were complemented by various field visits to different parts of the city such as a walking tour through the neighborhood of Woodstock to observe the Open Streets route on normal day, but also bicycle rides to Khayelitsha and the Sea Point Promenade.

The week long workshop culminated with the active participation of the attendees at the Open Streets Woodstock to experience “first hand” how a street could be used for so much more than only for cars.

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