Elaine Jack, City Improvement District Manager for Sandton Central Management District (SCMD).
The EcoMobility World Festival 2015, which takes place in Sandton for the entire month of October, will leave a positive lasting legacy for not only the City of Johannesburg, but also Gauteng and, ultimately, the entire southern African region.
Driven by the City of Johannesburg, this will be the world’s second-ever EcoMobility World Festival. It will be celebrated by creating a month-long dedicated pedestrian zone in part of the Sandton CBD, Africa’s financial, business and leisure hub, to promote an ecomobile future for residents and visitors in Johannesburg.
But the legacy projects which form part of the festival will continue to promote different, more environmentally sensitive, ways of getting around for years to come.
Elaine Jack, City Improvement District Manager for Sandton Central Management District (SCMD), comments: “These legacy projects are designed to promote the use of public transport and non-motorised forms of transport as safe, affordable and accessible alternatives to private vehicles. We are happy to see that the City of Johannesburg has taken into account the reality that people will only make the shift towards public transport and bicycles if these accessible alternatives become available.”
Sandton’s CBD, originally not built for any mode of traveling other than private vehicles, will benefit from permanent infrastructure put in place to enable safe walking and cycling as well as facilitate public transport.
Jack notes that the number of commuters to Sandton has increased at 3.4% per annum and is likely to continue to increase at 3% per annum in the future.
“There is simply not enough road space to accommodate the additional traffic. We have been working with the City over the last two years and last year approved the new Sandton Transport Master Plan which will be implemented in partnership. The City is taking the lead in the implementation with the introduction of the BRT, cycle lanes and improved public transport facilities. However changing behavioural is always a challenge. The EcoMobility World Festival is an opportunity to do things differently and is a chance to ignite a movement to change the way we move around the city for the better,” she says.
As part of its comprehensive strategy to create a cycle-friendly environment, the City of Johannesburg has designed and will be constructing cycle lanes close to various high-volume routes. These dedicated cycle lanes will be constructed along Maude, West and Alice Streets and cyclists will, in future, be able to ride from Rosebank to Sandton on this network.
The future of Johannesburg transport is set to feature a seamless transport system where people can switch easily between the Gautrain, Metrobus, Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit Network, minibus taxis, metered taxis, tuk tuks and cycling and walking.
For the thousands of people who walk from Alexandra to Sandton every day, the city will also be complete a 5km path, offering a dedicated bridge across the M1 highway, for both cyclists and pedestrians by mid-2016. By this time it will also complete the conversion of West and Maude Streets into complete streets that accommodate all kinds of transport. It will also put everything in place for a public transport loop along Rivonia, Fredman, Fifth Streets and make mobility improvements to Marlboro Drive. By mid-2016, the new infrastructure will also include 35 km of public environment upgrades in Alexandra.
By the end of 2017, the City of Johannesburg has committed to completing cyclist lanes in and towards Sandton. This will be done in partnership with the city and property owners and developers. This direct route will run between Rosebank and Sandton, covering 1.8km. The city will also have the Rea Vaya BRT complete and operating between Sandton, CBD, Ivory Park, Alexandra, Midrand and Sunninghill. Finally by 2020 the new Alexandra Interchange will be complete.
Partnering up with Freedom Ride, Qhubeka and local NGOs such like Rays of Hope, the City has plans to donate approximately 1,000 bicycles to high school learners in Alexandra. This project will also include the identification of safe cycle routes and the setting up of two Bike Empowerment Centres in San Kopana and Marlboro. It will provide ongoing administration and operational support to the project.
There will also be a new driver awareness track established at Juskei Park in Alexandra, which will include a cycle track, driver awareness and skate park.
“The EcoMobility World Festival has really put the Sandton CBD, and its surrounds, at the forefront of the city’s attention and we believe this investment into public transport will ensure that Sandton remains competitive and the preferred location of choice for business, living, leisure and tourism in the city,” says Jack.
“The festival in October creates an opportunity to try new ways of getting around. Experiencing other modes of transport for a month is a start. The most exciting thing is that people will be able to use the exciting new transport alternatives created in the legacy projects on a sustainable basis.”