Break­ing the traf­fic grid­lock

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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.

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