A portion of Merrydale Avenue will become car-free on Sunday 3 April 2016, from 12:00 to 17:00. This is a rare opportunity for both residents and visitors to connect by freely and safely enjoying one of Mitchells Plain’s most iconic streets.
 
Thanks to the support of the City of Cape Town and building on the success of Open Streets Bree on 17 January 2016, as well as Langa and Bellville in 2015, Open Streets will be tested in Mitchells Plain for the first time, in April.
 
This free community day invites everyone to rediscover Cape Town by using public transport on the day and encourages human connection through the maximisation of public space.
 
The concept, as usual, is simple: a temporary road closure is put into effect for a number of hours so that residents can experience streets as public space. ‘It is an invitation to reassess the function of our streets by using the space they occupy in a completely different way. The experience starts from the moment people leave their homes and travel to Mitchells Plain – ideally using public transport or joining the official bike bus from Claremont to Merrydale Avenue – and it continues when they arrive at a car-free street that allows for genuine interaction and connection,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.
 
The planning process began last year with a series of presentations to local subcouncils and has ramped up in the past two months with door-to-door campaigning and well-attended public meetings with members of the community. More planning meetings will take place during the last week of March.
 
Open Streets Mitchells Plain is possible thanks to the financial and strategic support of Transport for Cape Town, the City’s transport authority, and the City’s committment to developing a model that can enable a city-wide long-term Open Streets programme that builds on its own efforts to create a caring city that is inclusive and safe and offers opportunity for all.
 
‘Cape Town is geographically spread out and unfortunately those of us who live more centrally seldom have a reason to travel to the city outskirts – to areas that were created to entrench the apartheid plan. This is the legacy we need to address urgently and Open Streets presents a unique opportunity for all of us to understand the spatial challenge and at the same time experience what a shift in transport mode – from motorised to non-motorised – can do to create a liveable and sustainable city. We encourage everyone to make use of public transport to travel to Mitchells Plain on 3 April: Metrorail and the MyCiTi service have direct routes from the various parts of Cape Town.
 
This is a chance to move through Cape Town in a way that supports sustainable and inclusive transportation,’ said Councillor Herron.
 
It is also a chance for the local community to showcase the immense level of talent and entrepreneurship that often gets lost in the negative stories that reach mainstream media. From South Africa’s first chess grandmaster to a long list of innovators in media, the arts, music and business, Mitchells Plain is home to many South African celebrities like one-time member of the legendary hip-hop outfit Prophets of Da City DJ, Ready D, who was born in the area.
 
With bicycles for children, live music, street cricket and loads of games, the day promises to be another celebration of Cape Town’s spirit and diversity.
 
‘Open Streets can help connect our communities and its success will depend solely on public support and participation. Be part of the city you want to see,’ said the Managing Director of Open Streets Cape Town, Marcela Guerrero Casas. To watch a short clip about Open Streets in Cape Town, residents should please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6WNrWRhJ-g.
 

For more details, residents can visit www.openstreets.org.za, go to Open Streets Cape Town on Facebook, or follow @openstreetsCT on Twitter. To arrange to set up an activity on 3 April, 2016, interested residents should please e-mail info@openstreets.co.za.