Imagine what life would be like if there were fewer cars or simply more people-friendly streets! That is exactly what Open Streets is all about: during Open Streets certain roads are blocked for cars, so people can walk, ride their bikes, or even have a picnic in the middle of the street. There are Open Streets happening all over the world, especially in Latin and North America. On October 1st, the Main Road between Observatory and Cape Town CBD will be closed to cars from 10.00 until 15.00 so people can socialise in the street. eFoodies.co.za had a chat with organiser Marcela Guerrero Casas:
How did you get involved? “I really wanted to do something for the city where I live and when I started talking to other people it turned out many of them were thinking along similar lines. I think there is a global consciousness or awareness around streets and public spaces. Open Streets in the US has ballooned in the past ten years.”
Was it hard to convince Cape Town Officials to close the streets? “Yes. It is hard. We haven’t achieved it yet. We have tested it in five different areas. Because of Cape Town’s history and its urban planning the city is very segregated and very spread out. Very different from for instance Bogota or other Latin American cities where the density is quite high. You have to close a lot of kilometers before you connect people, connect communities, so that made it a hard sell. Also, city officials in Cape Town, like in every other city on earth, are very risk averse. They don’t want to be responsible for people being inconvenienced. They want to avoid complaints at all costs. So they say: why not keep it small, why not close down a few blocks, keep it manageable? People who have been to the Open Streets we’ve done so far have given us really positive feedback and that is what we are building on.”
This Open Street will be the biggest one so far, 5 kilometers. Can you imagine an Open Street every week? “I think this can and should become part of the fabric of this city. And those are not even my words, but that’s what the mayor of Cape Town has said. Every Sunday I can’t really imagine, mostly because of the weather. People are very weather sensitive, so I can imagine every Sunday during the summer season.”
Next Open Street will be on October 1st, more info on their Facebook page!