The Sandton Central Business District (CBD) will become Africa’s only car-free CBD for the month of October as large sections of the roads will be closed off and focused on cycling and pedestrian activities such as pop-up restaurants, entertainment stands and food stalls.
The City of Joburg is the host of the EcoMobility World festival 2015, which aims to showcase that the urban eco mobile lifestyle can be implemented in cities across the world. The festival, which takes place over South Africa’s Transport Month, is the City of Joburg’s endeavour to encourage the use of public transport, cycling and walking as alternative modes of transport.
Activities to encourage healthy living like aerobics and daily walks will also take place in selected areas.
City of Joburg Executive Mayor, Parks Tau outlined the concept behind the festival at the Sandton Sun Hotel in Sandton during a breakfast event held in conjunction with the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) on 28 May 2015. The Sandton Central Business District (CBD), the second busiest in the City of Joburg, is the host of the international event which will temporarily transform the CBD into an urban EcoMobility neighbourhood featuring selected road closures, park and ride facilities, increased pedestrian activity as well as a more intense usage of public transport.
Neil Gopal, Chief Executive Officer of SAPOA supports the City in its efforts as he recognises the gridlocking and traffic congestion in Sandton. “Whilst we are concerned about the operational issues of the functioning of retail facilities in Sandton and the resultant impact on shopping centres, we are working with the City on these issues,” says Gopal. “I call on other CEO’s to join the mayor in this important endeavour to change people’s behavioural patterns.”The first EcoMobility festival was organised in 2013 by the City of Suwon, South Korea and it attracted over one million visitors and this year’s event is also expected to attract a large number of visitors. The primary objective of the festival is to enable behavioural change from private car use towards other transport and as such drivers visiting and working in the CBD will be provided with park and ride facilities.In this year’s instalment of the festival will showcase the Rea Vaya Rapid Bus Transit system and Metro buses as alternative modes of transport, promote Joburg as a cycle friendly city, show and promote non-motorised and alternatively powered vehicles, promote walking and show the benefits of reduced congestion on productivity, quality of life and emission standards.
The month long festival will have different components such as legacy projects, EcoMobility dialogues as well as street festivals and events.A transport management plan has been adopted by the City of Joburg to encourage the CBD’s users to participate in the festival. During the period of the festival, additional public transport in the form of the Gautrain which will be travelling at 10 minute frequencies, increased availability of Metro busses, providing accredited mini bus taxis, tuk tuks, pedi cabs and electric vehicles will be accessible to commuters.
The festival is not only expected to gear vehicle users’ minds closer to considering alternative means of commuting but to also significantly alter the travelling routine of the daily Sandton CBD commuter.