Breaking the traffic gridlock
ROADS in Pretoria are too gridlocked by any metro’s standards, and banning cars in certain areas will bring relief to motorists, businesses and the public. The matter was raised during the African Capital Cities Sustainability Week Forum hosted in the city and attended by mayors and other local government leaders from across the continent.
In outlining the proposal, the City of Tshwane has also spoken of introducing a car-free week. This would see people being encouraged to leave their cars at home and using public transport or pool cars for the week.
In addition to reducing carbon emissions, having no cars in certain areas means these zones would become destinations of choice for many.
This possible change to the city’s spatial planning would also be in line with the Department of Transport’s strategy for metropolitan cities to prohibit the use of private vehicles in some areas. People would no longer have to sit in traffic and then spend time looking for parking.
South Africa as a whole dropped the ball a few years ago by not persisting with a car-free day and high-occupancy vehicles or pool cars during Transport Month in October.
The initiative was undertaken during Transport Month in 2006 and 2007 and has never been heard of again.
If car-free day on October 20 had been promoted and sustained, it would have become part of people’s lives by now.
That missed opportunity means the concept of a car-free day, so successful in other countries, remains foreign to South Africa. Here, many of us still believe the best way to get around is to hop into our own cars and drive there.
But being the capital, the city owes it to the nation to lead the way and introduce car-free week for the rest of the country to follow.
But to succeed it needs aspects like adequate parking, reliable public transport and security.
Otherwise, simply banning cars in the city centre would create the problem elsewhere. Getting cars off the road needs to be done strategically to have an impact beyond a once-off event.