Event October 18, 2019

Walking & Cycling Indaba strengthens Tshwane's drive for sustainable transport

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  • LOCATION Tshwane - South Africa
  • DATE October 17

South African municipalities are undergoing a rapid transformation as the number of private vehicles increases and the legacy of spatial segregation is addressed. Across the continent, cities have also begun prioritising walking and cycling (often referred to as ‘non-motorised transport’ or NMT) and rediscovering their role in connecting people to their destinations. Due to apartheid, cycling all but disappeared in Johannesburg and other cities in South Africa in the 1950s. Nowadays, Tshwane is leading the way with its walking and cycling initiatives, supported by the C40 Cities Finance Facility.

As part of South Africa’s national October Transport Month, the CFF and the City of Tshwane co-organised a ‘Walking and Cycling Indaba’ on October 17th, 2019 – ‘indaba’ is an isiZulu word for ‘business’ or ‘matter’. The purpose of the event was to build on and increase the commitment and support for walking and cycling from provincial and local government authorities. It was also an occasion for the City of Tshwane to showcase its current efforts, including a planned upgrade of the Solomon Mahlangu Road, measures to address road safety, car-free day activities and a bike-sharing system. The event was moderated by Gail Jennings, a leading expert on mobility in South Africa.

The Indaba began with an opening speech by Cllr Sheila Lynn-Senkubuge, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Roads and Transport (City of Tshwane). Cllr Lynn-Senkubuge stressed the need to expand the cooperation between the City of Tshwane and Gauteng Province on NMT standards to include all roads being built or upgraded, a point also reinforced by Gauteng Roads and Transport Department spokesperson Melitah Madiba. These remarks were followed by a presentation from Dr Njogu Morgan (University of the Witwatersrand) on how to draw lessons from Gauteng’s historical cycling culture to build a new culture of mobility. This was followed by interventions by people who choose to walk and cycle to raise awareness of their need and understand that these cannot be met without strong political and financial commitments. Speakers included Werner Bruhns (City of Tshwane), Tshepo Mlangeni (Tshwane Urban Riders), Maxi Alberts (EVS Town and Regional Planners/Qhubeka) and Xolela Jara (KAPP Delivery).

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The event included a number of NMT users, who were asked to speak about one key intervention that the City of Tshwane and Gauteng Province could make to transform their daily experience of walking and cycling for the better.

The Walking & Cycling Indaba was part of the Annual Car-Free Street Festival Hatfield. The Festival was held in a closed off section of Burnett Street. It included radio broadcasts, athletic demonstrations and other exhibitions. The aim of the festival was to showcase alternative options to car dependence such as walking and cycling. These type of events and street closures are increasingly popular across the continent, including in Cape Town, Addis Ababa and Kigali. There is a lot of potential in Tshwane: currently, the modal share of walking and cycling in the city is 29% and >1%, respectively.

The CFF and the City of Tshwane are already planning how to follow-up this Indaba with a larger event in October 2020. One of the goals of the cooperation is to engage other municipalities in Gauteng, South Africa and beyond to replicate any good practices from Tshwane. The objective is to help other municipalities to plan projects that enable walking and cycling to improve public health, reduce emissions and noise pollution and catalyse urban regeneration.