“The most important thing about this Festival is about mindsets. It is about its message − so that even people who are not part of the festival hear about it. The festival is making an impact, the message is there, you see the slogans. I think that is important, it is a start of something. In Johannesburg we have a very low percentage of cyclists but a fairly high percentage of pedestrians, not necessarily because of choice. Making pedestrian activity easier is an important start as well as beginning to get the message across that we can use bicycles.
What is really important is the leadership and to see that the leaders are not just preaching messages but actually doing it in their daily life. For example, it is very important that we see Mayor Tau on a bicycle. He does not just do it on the cycling day in the year, he is often there on a bicycle and says we can change the way in which we move. That is real leadership. I would like to see more of that.
Johannesburg faces the same challenges as many other cities in the world. But our challenge might be somewhat deeper because of our history and the deliberate attempt to separate people from each other and people from jobs. In South African cities we have the special situation that close to the jobs we have the lowest housing densities. There is a particular challenge in terms of bringing people daily from their place of residence to their jobs or services. For many households this is very costly.”
Prof. Philip Harrison, South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
“I come from Uganda, which is very different from Europe. Definitely we can learn from the good examples in Europe, but we need our own regional examples. We need a story for Africa, it does not make sense to sell the Dutch image of a cycle-friendly city to someone in Kampala because people there don’t relate to that. Africa needs a benchmark, people are tired of Europe, this is Africa!
EcoMobility must look at the gender aspect. This is especially important for cycling. Many women do not know how to ride a cycle. If we don’t have a close look at the gender aspect, women are pushed out of EcoMobility. So in Kampala we decided to train women how to ride a cycle.
We should keep in mind that this is not about the cities, it is about the people. If we forget about the people, we risk losing what makes our cities. Unless people thrive in the cities, our cities will not survive.
EcoMobility is a global cause. Let’s break the boundaries, let’s get out of Johannesburg, join this global cause and get united for EcoMobility!”
Amanda Ngabirano Aziidah, Urban and Regional Planner, Lecturer at Makere University Kampala, Uganda
We need to create places where you feel safe and comfortable, where people are around you and many things are going on! But at the same time it needs to be clean, beautiful and well designed. It is not about having star architecture and fancy buildings; far more important is the space in between the buildings and how you design it. People will begin to use the space and realize that this is actually what the value of living in the city is. Instead of escaping the city to live in suburbs further and further away, they can actually escape from the suburbs into the city.
You can only get there when you integrate spatial planning with transport. It is about selling a new kind of dream and to overcome the car as the only status symbol, a new dream that is about a clean future, a carbon friendly future that’s good for their kids, that’s good for them.
I think initiatives like the EcoMobility Festival are very important because they make people see the difference. This isn’t comprehensive, but there are streets being closed down and you can perceive how pleasant it can be and how quiet. Bringing this whole sharing experience of crossing borders is very important.”
Camilla Ween, Architect and Urban Planner, Director of Goldstein Ween Architects, United Kingdom
Featured photo: Tobias Kuttler, courtesy The Urban Idea
All other: Simphiwe Nkwali, courtesy City of Johannesburg