The Foreshore and a walkable CTICC

The recent headline that Cape Town is to double the size of its Convention Centre reminded me of a recent trip to the Design Indaba and the hair-raising, and dangerous, crossing which hundreds of visitors to the Centre were forced to make across Lower Heerengracht on the way from parking to the centre. The poorly thought through walking access on the streets outside the CTICC stood in stark contrast to the South African creativity on show inside it. Public spaces like those on our Foreshore are both unfamiliar, unwelcoming and unsettling. Access routes which welcome international visitors to the CTICC will be something that the new Convention Centre management will be forced to apply its mind to. I would love to see some of the creative thinking that went into the Stadium access also be applied to the CTICC. This aerial mock-up shows just how close the CTICC is to vast tracts of land in the Eastern Foreshore where there is lots of space for parking. Better still the CTICC is, surprisingly, on the doorstep of the station. It just appears further because pedestrian access between the two has been at best ad-hoc, and at worst neglected completely. The CTICC development provides an opportunity to really implement some “liveable” streets design in the Foreshore and to give pedestrian accessibility in the City the priority it deserves.

 

Promoting NMT: small is beautiful

Thanks to a UCT student for prompting this by asking “Without large and expensive investments for public (mass) transport or situations such as the cycle lanes in Rosebank/Rondebosch, what other options exist for promoting non-motorised transport?”

South Africa, it seems to me, is somewhat obsessed with big, infrastructure projects. Whether it is big freeways, or big BRT schemes or the “big” cycle infrastructure projects you mentioned. Whatever form it takes, South African government loves those big, sexy (expensive) infrastructure schemes. And yet, if you take a good look at the places where walking and cycling thrives (think Scandinavia, the low countries, small town UK, even Portland, US), for the most part this is not achieved on the back of big schemes like we see in Rondebosch, or next to the BRT. Rather, these shifts have been achieved thanks to decades of incremental, small scale, local improvements to junctions, crossings, local streets, local schools, residential neighbourhoods. By applying a road narrowing here, speed bumps or tables there, speed restrictions, play streets, one ways, traffic circles, traffic signal priorities for pedestrians, improved footways, landscaping (get the picture) local streets and then neighbourhoods have been transformed and (most importantly slowed). This is important for two reasons. Firstly to work well NMT” needs safe, comfortable door-to-door access which the big infrastructure projects can never give; secondly, investing in local areas has long term spin off benefits for landuse, for example making local areas and businesses more attractive (which in the long run cuts down on the necessity for car trips)….a win-win.

So, my medicine for NMT would be budgetary and organisational. Change and increase the local government transport and planning department budget lines to better support localised action, and get over the obsession with big sexy infrastructure schemes. Of course, such medicine is mundane, slow, and not as attractive to construction companies or politicians as the big schemes…..but its cheaper and in the long run, I believe, much more effective.

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