A snapshot of Joburg Ecomobility Dialogues
Who would have guessed that it could actually be quite pleasant to walk around the car-infested streets of Sandton? I was attending a few days of the Ecomobility Dialogues, and had to sneak out to get to a client just down the road. Since it’s Ecomobility month, I thought it might be fun to take Shanks’s pony. It was exactly 1km away on foot and I was pretty sure that I was going to arrive with a little bit of a glow.
Instead of sweating in the sun, I found the path mostly shaded and made comfortable by sidewalks and planting which I had never noticed before. Buildings and details which I would usually speed past while focusing on the next robot light became interesting and actually worth looking at. I found myself thinking, “Actually, these big ugly buildings with their garish details aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are mostly all behind high security fences, and architecturally do nothing to address the street… but still. There’s space, greenery, it’s clean, and there’s a cool breeze.
I arrived at my meeting with a shine. It took me all of 13 minutes and I was inspired.
— Georgie Chennells (@georgiechennels) October 6, 2015
I know all the walks in Sandton aren’t this pleasant. I had walked South from the Industrial Development Corporation. One of the speakers at the Dialogues commented that his walk from the Gautrain to the venue had been a particularly hot and sweaty 16 minutes with very little shade.
The Ecomobility Dialogues talks that I attended I found in general constructive, solutions-filled and accessible to my plebian knowledge base.
The discussions around the situation in Joburg can be summarised in my mind as:
- The wealthy folk of Sandton need to drive less and open up to other modes of transport. We do need infrastructure for this but other cities show this is possible (and rather exciting!)
- On the other side of the tracks, the people of Alex need to be encouraged to use bicycles, and generally be catered to more in transport planning (which it seems Jozi has taken heed of, with a massive new transport route geared to bikes linking Alex & Sandton underway).
- There’s space for all forms of transport (including cars) but they all need to work in a system that is efficient and convenient for the users (as well as carbon efficient).
Amanda Ngabirano Aziidah talking about the need for an Africa-centric approach, as opposed to European. She also spoke about public doubt and lack of trust in the authorities as a hindrance to making awesome projects happen. Another issue: the cultural paradigm that cars are a status symbol. She had a fantastic way of putting things; constructive and pragmatic. She rocked.
“It’s not alternative transport. It’s a choice. Just like orange juice is not an alternative drink to coke.” – Tim Papendrou, San Francisco’s Municipal Transport Agency
Buildings need to cater for more modes of transport, especially bikes. Bike storage, bike-welcoming lifts and showers at work, for example. – Something along these lines was spoken by Thulani Kuzawayo, GBCSA
The contrast of Peter Mabe, representing the South Africa’s Taxi stakeholders, with Uber’s Alon Lits. Much of Mabe’s presentation was a motivational speech about changing our attitudes and perceptions. (“He’s such a charmer” said the MMC). Lits took a holistic business angle and addressed the media’s sore points about Uber and economic empowerment. Great little video (which I am trying to find a link to). Rather humorous to see the contrast.
Locomute. Who knew that car sharing had come to SA?
— Georgie Chennells (@georgiechennels) October 7, 2015
Here’s to Joburg becoming more ecomobile. Hopefully as soon as possible.
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- On October 26, 2015
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