Open Streets Cape Town
Open Streets Cape Town (OSCT) is a citizen-driven initiative, it is both an organisation and a philosophy for public life, working to design and promote streets which embed and generate respect for people, regardless of who they are, and how they move. It was founded in 2012 by a group of cycling activists committed to contributing to a more equitable; integrated; safer and vibrant Cape Town.
Urban cycling is growing in Cape Town, and South Africa more broadly; however streets continue to be isolating and intimidating public spaces due to lack of infrastructure, safety and overall respect for cyclists. Hence appropriating the streets, maximising their use as public space and embedding respect by creating “Open Streets” resonates strongly with the agenda of making Cape Town a cycling town!
Inspired in Bogota’s Ciclovia, Open Streets was initially set up in order to create a temporary network of car-free areas and routes throughout Cape Town. After presenting the idea to the city and carrying out a first pilot as part of Transport month in 2012, a working group was consolidated to carry the initiative forward. The group (Open Streets Cape Town -OSCT) held several meetings in 2012 and identified the need to go beyond the organisation of Open Streets days by addressing other key issues to create people-friendly streets.
Open Streets have been successfully implemented around the world and OSCT draws on decades of international and local experience in re-designing and re-working streets. Most importantly, OSCT builds on city and civic efforts including events like the 2003-2004 car-free day festivals, 2012 Open Streets and critical mass bicycle rides among others. Furthermore, OSCT works to raise citizen awareness; and to lead public debate about how to best design streets that make cycling safe, appealing and practical.
Open Streets provide a number of benefits, which over time have a long-lasting impact in community in terms of improved health, transport, community building and economic opportunity. OSCT works to highlight those benefits and explore concrete avenues to ensure they translate into permanent changes on the streets (i.e cycle lanes, sidewalks, etc.). In that vein, OSCT aims to serve as a voice in all matters related to the design, creation and promotion of public streets and a link between government and citizens.
OSCT Vision: Public streets which embed and generate respect for all people, regardless of who they are, and how they move.
1. Activate public space through the design and roll out of Open Streets days and related public events.
2. Promote the development of Open Streets around the city as an expression of local culture and values by supporting communities in designing and driving their own Open Streets events
3. Influence policy and public discourse on streets and how they are designed at city and national level by engaging the public
Open Street days: envisioned to take place on a regular basis, growing to connect more parts of the city and extending into related initiatives serving the city’s plan to promote cycling as well as other forms for non motorised transport. OSCT provides technical assistance in the setup of Open Streets days as well as the communication and branding support needed for the communities who want to have Open Streets in their neighbourhoods. Given the diversity of communities in Cape Town, OSCT will endeavour to ensure Open Streets days are community-driven.
Lobbying for 24-hour Open Streets: OSCT works towards the design, creation and promotion of public streets that put people before cars. It facilitates policy processes by both collecting input from citizen organisations and translating government plans to communities.
Media outreach and opinion leadership: Given the existing expertise in the working group which includes cycling, urban design, transport, social development and marketing, OSCT has a diverse outlook and a broad reach to local media channels. Through its existing networks and social media, OSCT elicits feedback and opinion from the general public.
Friends of Open Streets network: OSCT will work to grow its constituency by formalising a network of supporters or ‘friends of Open Streets.’ This will be done through the establishment of a structure that enables both individuals and organisations to join and participate.