Johannesburg Shows The Way To Eco-friendly Transport

The EcoMobility World Festival 2015 commenced in Sandton, Johannesburg – the vibrant heart of South Africa – in October. The Festival offers a view of the City in the future, with active street life and social inclusivity, served by a sustainable transport system.

Johannesburg’s Executive Mayor, Mpho Parks Tau, says the Festival demonstrates to the world that an ecomobile future is possible and that public transport, walking and cycling can be accessible, safe and attractive.

Decongesting our cities in general and the Sandton CBD is not only possible, it is essential if we want to continue to move freely in urban environments.

The Festival enables residents and visitors from across the globe to experience what a future, car-free precinct would look and feel like.
A core part of the Sandton CBD is closed for regular traffic for the duration of the Festival. Residents, workers, the business community and visitors, however, have full access to the entire precinct through expanded public transport and arrangements to encourage cycling and pedestrian activities.

A comprehensive traffic management plan is in place to minimise the temporary impact of disruptions and to keep the public informed about alternative arrangements. The decision to host the Festival was taken following technical studies and a comprehensive process of consultation with stakeholders and it enjoys the support of organised business.

The attention of the global community will be focused on Sandton in the weeks during the festival. What is happening in Sandton in October 2015 provides direction to global efforts to promote EcoMobility and sustainable transport systems.

Within South Africa the Festival promotes the concepts of inclusivity and social cohesion. The urban hub of Sandton is linked to the adjacent township of Alexandra and many of the events are designed to integrate these diverse neighbourhoods.

The infrastructure provided by the City to support the Festival –and the visionary plans to expand sustainable public transport systems within Johannesburg – combine to leave a lasting legacy for generations to come. You can also be a part of this.
Johannesburg’s most famous former resident, and Freeman of the City, the late Nelson Mandela, one referred to it as “… this town of vibrancy and activity.” In October 2015 Joburg lives up to this promise.

Car-free street (c) Dave O

Global movement towards EcoMobility

The availability of safe and accessible public transport will not necessarily mean that people will get out of their cars to travel on a bus or a bicycle. It will require fundamental changes in behaviour and attitudes supported by sufficient information and positive personal experiences about the benefits of public transport, walking and cycling.

The EcoMobility World Festival 2015 hosted in Sandton will give Joburgers a feel for the future. By closing certain streets in the City’s most important financial and commercial centre for one month Johannesburg will demonstrate that it is possible to enjoy a car-free future and utilise other modes of transport for most daily activities.

The EcoMobility World Festival was initiated by ICLEI to show that an eco-mobile lifestyle can be promoted in cities all over the world by transforming a neighbourhood and demonstrating the possibilities of an innovative and forward-thinking urban transportation culture.

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability – is the leading global network to promote sustainable development and build a sustainable future at local and regional levels. It brings together more than 1 000 cities, towns and metropolises, connects leaders, promotes knowledge and innovation and acts as a united voice on issues of global concern.

The first EcoMobility World Festival was organised in 2013 by the city of Suwon, South Korea and ICLEI. Over one million visits to the various exhibitions, tours and cultural events by local citizens and international participants were counted during the month-long Festival. The event also gave local innovators and businesses a chance to demonstrate their mobility alternatives to conventional fossil fuel vehicles at the EcoMobility Exhibition.

Parade (c) ICLEI e.V 2013

Johannesburg takes the lead

The City of Johannesburg has taken a firm decision to move towards a greener future. At the core of this shift is the provision of public infrastructure to make public transport, walking and cycling easier, safer and more accessible.

The initial steps to provide citizens of the ‘world-class African city’ with efficient and accessible public transport have already been taken.

Why Sandton?

The City of Johannesburg and ICLEI have selected Sandton to be an EcoMobile neighbourhood for the month of October 2015, for a number of reasons:

The EcoMobility World Festival 2015 offers hope for Sandton because it will open the window on an alternative future where public transport takes priority over private vehicles; where people swap their car keys for bicycle helmets and where streets become true public spaces again, to be enjoyed by all.

Sandton has become synonymous with entrepreneurship and risk-taking in the commercial and business environment. The EcoMobility World Festival 2015 will be another opportunity for this important economic node to provide leadership and show the way to a sustainable future.

What happens in Sandton in October 2015 will point the way towards the future of transport in South Africa in the years to come.