The World EcoMobility Festival, taking place in Johannesburg from 1 October to 31 October, naturally has residents and businesses concerned about how traffic congestion will be affected in one of Johannesburg’s busiest destinations.
The World EcoMobility Festival is driven by the City of Johannesburg as part of a broader plan to decongest traffic and give preference to public transport, bicycles and pedestrians on the city’s streets. Sandton, as the country’s leading hub, was selected to host the festival, with the stated intention of optimising its positive impact.
Elaine Jack, city improvement district manager for the Sandton Central Management District, explains that Sandton residents, workers and visitors will have full access to the Sandton CBD during the festival, but the emphasis will be on using public transport to move in and out of the CBD. There will also be new ways to move around the area, and an infrastructure to enable safe walking and cycling is being put in place. However, while the intended outcome is positive, many are concerned about the impact of restricting traffic on the busiest roads in the city. Jack, however, believes that as the purpose of the festival is to promote decongestion of the city’s roads, the effects on traffic overall will be positive.
“There will be additional buses coming into Sandton, from over a dozen park and ride venues across the region. The Gautrain has increased its frequency during peak hour, to every 10 minutes. This encourages fewer cars on the streets surrounding Sandton. We know Sandton already experiences frustrating levels of traffic congestion. This festival is one of the first steps to improving this. It forces us to deal with our congestion issue.”
She says that while the changes during October will take some getting used to, she believes that it won’t take long for people to become familiar with the set up. “The legacy projects, which will make permanent improvements to our pavements and roads by introducing new cycling, walking and public transport facilities to the area, will be a lasting benefit.”
Residents and commuters can subscribe to news alerts about the festival at www.sandtoncentral.co.za, and follow the news on Twitter @SandtonCentral and on www.facebook.com/SandtonCentral
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.