Part of one of Cape Town’s most historic and important thoroughfares is going car free during the first Sunday of Transport Month. On 1 October, Cape Town CBD, Woodstock, Salt River and Observatory will become a platform for Open Streets, reserving a section of the M4 for people, not cars.
The 5km stretch will encompass one of the city’s biggest road closures outside of a major sporting or cultural event such as the Cape Town Marathon, Cape Town Cycle Tour or Cape Town Carnival. Closed to motorised vehicles, it will become an open space for pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, wheelchair users and other non-motorised transport users to move in safety.
“The route features many well-known landmarks and permanent public spaces, opening up a world of possibilities for exploring, socialising, exercising and shopping,” says Marcela Guerrero Casas, managing director and co-founder of the non-profit organisation Open Streets Cape Town (OSCT).
Open Streets Main Road builds on a local programme inspired by Colombia’s Ciclovía that the City of Cape Town has supported since inception.
Open Streets Days have taken place in Langa, Observatory, Mitchells Plain, Bellville and the CBD. Until now, however, the route has been no longer than 2km.
“On 1 October, we will be taking a major step in expanding the programme. In Colombia, hundreds of kilometres of streets go car free every Sunday and public holiday. This is, of course, something we’d eventually like to see in Cape Town: an Open Streets route that brings communities together across many different parts of the city,” says Marcela.
Connecting the southern suburbs between Cape Town and Simon’s Town, the M4 is an integral part of the lives of many Capetonians. It starts as Darling Street in the CBD and becomes Sir Lowry Road and then Victoria Road in Woodstock, before continuing as Main Road from Salt River to Simon’s Town station.
From there it changes names three more times, before continuing as Main Road to its end near Smitswinkel Bay. Most Capetonians know it simply as “the main road”.
For most of its length, the main road runs parallel with Metrorail’s southern line and many of its surrounding communities are walkable. However, much of the road is dangerous and congested, especially during morning and afternoon peak.
Between 2013 and 2017, OSCT hosted 12 Open Streets Days in five parts of Cape Town, attracting between 3 000 and 15 000 participants at each one. While colourful activities have brought these days to life, Open Streets can be a chance for mobility and experiencing the city in a different way.
For more information visit www.openstreets.org.za