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Cape Town - Plans to pedestrianise Long Street should be the catalyst for similar projects in other areas such as Langa, Dunoon and Philippi.
Rashiq Fataar, director of think-tank Future Cape Town, was speaking at a summit on creative solutions for the way streets were designed and managed.
“It’s about seeing streets as places,” he said. “When we speak of pedestrianising Long Street, it is important to ask what this space can do for the whole of Cape Town and, more importantly, how all streets in the city can be improved through innovative engagement processes.”
A proposal to transform Long Street into a pedestrian mall has been mooted by City of Cape Town councillor Dave Bryant.
In his motion, which was submitted to the Good Hope Subcouncil in August, Bryant called for the pedestrianisation of a section of the popular street from Watson to Wale streets.
He said it was becoming increasingly difficult for law enforcement to access the area, which was usually blocked by parked cars and delivery vehicles in both the left- and right-hand lanes. Bryant said vehicle access should be restricted to the MyCiti bus service, emergency vehicles and delivery vans during specified hours.
Fataar said that a cross-sector of delegates, including officials from the city council and representatives of the Long Street Festival, attended Monday’s summit, which was themed “The long and short of better streets”.
They agreed that there was a need for a different approach to urban design. Instead of waiting for the government to call for ideas, various sectors with specialist knowledge or experience should work together on a design brief, first for Long Street and then for other areas.
Rory Williams, of the initiative Open Streets, suggested that various smaller experiments could be carried out to see whether various suggestions would work. For example, parking could be restricted to see what impact this had on the dynamics of the street.
“We need to find a way to get people excited about a street,” he said.
The findings of these experiments could be fed back to the city.
The motion for Long Street is to be considered by Transport for Cape Town and, if there is support, a plan will be released for public comment.