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South Africa

Cape Town


The call for expanding alternatives to the (private) motor car in South Africa have long been significant and loud. They have come from many sectors, including environmental groups, to civil rights structures, to urban and regional planners. Public transport structures, once fairly successful, have fallen apart in the past 10 to 15 years due to mismanagement, negligence, crime and corruption. The present ruling government has, to a large extent, been either unable or unwilling to arrest this downward trend. Both cycling and walking programs are in need of enormous investment in respect of planning, infrastructure, design, and education initiatives.

Millions walk every day over long distances (due largely to the apartheid-era governments system of urban sprawl, forcing people of colour to live many kilometres from where they can work), and the walk that they are forced to take is largely one of pain and suffering due to the undignified and badly managed routes and surfaces offered to them. In terms of cycling – the country has seen miniscule investment. For the most part, cyclists are scared off by unsafe routes next to speeding cars, and distances that are wholly prohibitive due to their enormous length.


A small consortium of partners from civil society and business have joined together to engage with government structures to address mobility in and around Cape Town. The progress of pedestrian and cycling upgrades and planning of new facilities has been very slow, and for many, their access to important parts of the city for work, education, leisure and social engagements is compromised, unsafe, inconvenient, prohibitively expensive and/or especially challenging for those with disabilities. The group set about calling for meetings, workshops, site visits and targeted interventions to address the challenging situation.



Planning for walking and cycling needs to form part of the same mobility master plan, with distinct and individual character, but with a connected link that demonstrates their interdependence. This mobility plan should then be overlaid onto the national transport strategy, and implemented accordingly. South Africa requires a new direction of political will – one that creates dignified spaces and opportunities for those who are most vulnerable in our society, those who lie outside the realm of those who own and drive a car. The country needs a strategy that places the needs of those most challenged in terms of access at the forefront of their strategic planning and implementation. This is realised through the provision of facilities to address this – and the process starts with listening and engaging with those who most need to be heard.


Langa Township Revitalisation

  • Improvement of street landscapes, greening, revitalising of small businesses and revisiting of cultural and historical importance of the area

  • Investigating the potential for improved mobility – walking and cycling, train services, and access points to surrounding neighbourhoods

City of Cape Town

  • Meetings with city officials and transport planning staff to look at strategic interventions on certain corridors and intersections, identifying key areas where cycling and walking facilities can be improved

  • Within this, there was a call to examine the road classification categories as stated within the road traffic act legislation – and to provide suggestions of amending sections where cycling facilities are deemed less than adequate; for example, where the speed differential between cyclists and motorists is greater than 30km/h, then increased separation be installed

  • Specific focus on city councillors and officials who have been supportive, to seek out their advice as to how to bring about faster interventions

  • The meetings thus far have brought us to a position where we have now planned a city bicycle ride with the Executive Mayor of Cape Town and other officials on 24 February, to explore specific examples of road facilities that demand an intervention

Update on the Active Mobility Forum (AFM)

  • The ongoing process as described above has been consolidated into the Active Mobility Forum (AFM) which has already resulted in many meetings with ward, local, and provincial government, business and civil society organisations to build up support for increased pedestrian and cycling facilities. One example of a corridor under review is Mitchell’s Plain, a residential, mixed community, where potential improvements are being sketched out.


Province of the Western Cape

  • In addition to the work with the City of Cape Town, the consortium is also calling for meetings with the provincial government

  • The ongoing conflict with the taxi industry, the poor state of the train systems due to theft and damage, and the poorly managed bus services – demands that both tiers of government address this emphatically

  • With this in mind, we have called for a meeting with the new provincial Minister of Transport, and if possible with the Premier of the province too, to work out strategies for intervention



Andrew Wheeldon

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