The Open Streets initiative encourages people to go car-free to reduce the impact of climate change, reduce traffic congestion and interact with fellow residents. Picture: David Ritchie

Help reduce Cape Town’s carbon footprint by supporting the Open Street programme, writes Patricia de Lille.

The impact of climate change is being felt across the world.

As a coastal city at particular risk in the event of rising sea levels and increased storm surges and one that has faced repeated flooding from extreme weather conditions in recent decades, Cape Town has taken the lead in meeting this global challenge.

I’m pleased the City of Cape Town played an active role during the COP21 negotiations in December, supporting the Paris Agreement with commitments to limiting the global temperature increase through lowering global carbon emissions at local government level and improving the resilience of our city to the impacts of current and future climate changes.

Our residents are finding ways to contribute. Many have made small changes in their homes, including turning geyser temperatures down, insulating water pipes, installing solar water heaters, replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with LEDs and switching off unused appliances at the wall.

Radical change is required in the realm of mobility, however, as transportation accounts for a third of Cape Town’s carbon emissions and 64 percent of all energy used in the metropole.

While the city is investing in the expansion of its integrated transit system, it will be individuals who make the difference by choosing more sustainable transport options.

On April 3, there is a great opportunity at Open Streets in Mitchells Plain to go car-free. Open Streets Day started in Observatory in 2013 and has grown with more people taking part in this initiative.

Open Streets days have been held in Langa, Bellville,the CBD and now Mitchells Plain. The city is working with Open Streets Cape Town to explore alternatives to turn Open Streets Days from events into a programme that happens on a regular basis in different parts of the city.

Next Sunday Capetonians are invited to try other modes of transport and experience a vibrant city neighbourhood in a different way. By catching a MyCiTi bus or a Metrorail train, or joining the groups of cyclists riding from Claremont and Khayelitsha to Mitchells Plain, Cape Town residents can rediscover some of the existing possibilities for moving in a low-carbon way around their city.

On the day, residents can continue their car-free journey by walking, cycling, skating or even dancing along Merrydale Avenue.

Open Streets is a simple concept with a powerful message: by repurposing streets as public space, our taken-for-granted concept “streets belong to cars” is challenged.

The challenges of climate change cannot be addressed by governments alone and will require substantial community participation.

Open Streets Days provide a unique platform for methods of interaction and enjoyment which can help build strong communities and make them realise the power of collective action.

Residents of Mitchells Plain will open their streets to the rest of the city in an effort to dream up a different future. Ultimately, climate change action requires everyone to take part, and Capetonians will have the opportunity to take an important step together in Merrydale Avenue next Sunday.

Come and join us and show your support for a lower carbon, more resilient future while enjoying the streets, having fun and games with fellow residents.

* Patricia de Lille is the executive mayor of Cape Town.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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