Ever heard of Open Streets Cape Town (OSCT)? This initiative, founded in 2012 by a group of individuals and registered as a non-profit since 2013, challenges how our city streets are used, perceived and experienced. This year, OSCT’s primary partner, Transport for Cape Town, has green-lit a series of four car-free days in suburbs around the city: Langa on 30 October 2016, Bellville on 20 November 2016, City Centre on 15 January 2017 and Mitchells Plain on 2 April 2017.
There are plenty of reasons you should participate – here, we break down some of them:
1 Explore the city’s low-carbon transport options
The car-free series kicks off in Langa’s King Langalibalele Drive (previously Washington Street) on 30 October 2016 where OSCT will run Cape Town’s first ever low-carbon transport race, the AtoB Challenge. The challenge will consist of teams racing to arrive in Langa first – but with the smallest carbon footprint. Even if you aren’t taking part in the AtoB Challenge, Open Streets Day is a good opportunity to leave your car at home and arrive by train, taxi or bicycle.
2 Visit different parts of the city
The Mother City is a sprawling metropolis with several spatial – and social – divides. Even so, thousands of people from all over turn up for Open Streets Days so it’s a perfect opportunity to get outside, discover parts of the city you may have never gone to and interact with people who live there.
3 Play… in the streets
They’re just for cars, right? Nope. Streets can be for people too (or are we being nostalgic here?). Both kids and adults get a chance to cycle, skate, walk, run and even play in the transformed space. Since there’s no vehicular traffic, you can interact with your environment and others without a fear of getting injured. Streets take up thousands of square kilometres, so it’s eye-opening to experience them in this way.
4 Share your passion
Open Streets Days create a platform for expression and the organisers invite anyone to run activities, provided they are safe, For example, The Book Station offers a reading corner and book exchange and there are various food vendors selling yummy treats. Interested? Apply to host an activity –anything from a yoga class to a street football match makes the cut!
5 Get active with your family and friends
Open Streets Days encourage a healthy lifestyle. Not only does it allow you to bring along your kids and get moving by participating in a host of activities – everything from salsa, Zumba and yoga to Frisbee, street cricket and football, and Hoola hoop classes – but you’ll also meet new people. Bonus: all activities are free for you to enjoy.
Photography Lucia Petschnig and Rory Williams