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Open Streets is more than a day; it’s an experience that inspires everyone to think differently.
Disclosure: I live in a city. I own a car. It’s also my main mode of transport. I tell myself I can keep my carbon conscience clear since I share rides with two others. This means we get to split the carbon footprint of our trips.
It gets us from A to B, but increasingly at greater cost (petrol prices have risen) and time (as my fellow urban travellers who navigate peak hour traffic will attest). The reality is that I, like many South Africans, am invested in my car, and can’t imagine giving it up for other alternatives.
The impact of carbon-emitting road travel and rising costs, however, are forcing us to rethink our addiction. And every few months in the year, my senses are opened to the possibility of an alternative reality.
It’s one where some of the city’s key arteries are closed to cars, opening a path for pedestrians, cyclists and skateboarders to move freely and experience the city differently. This intervention brings people from across the social spectrum to mingle and move freely, unshackled of the constraints usually imposed by a steady stream of commuter traffic.
These Open Streets initiatives, organised by Open Streets Cape Town, invite citizens to reimagine our streets. They inspire one to use, perceive and experience streets in new ways.
In collaboration with the city, Open Streets Cape Town has gained access to stretches of road in locations across the greater metro area, including Mitchell’s Plain, Langa, Khayelitsha, Bellville and the City Bowl. And every OS experience has its own flavour. Over three or four events I’ve had the privilege to play cricket, go hop-skotching, and breakdance on some of the city’s busiest streets.
My car remains the staple in my transport diet, but my thinking about mobility has shifted. With a few little steps, I’ve slowly started weaning myself by:
- Opting to take the train home from work once or twice a week.
- Choosing to walk rather than drive for appointments in close proximity.
- Carpooling and sharing the carbon burden when friends and I are headed in the same direction.