Walk about town
City planners are fast-tracking initiatives to make Cape Town’s CBD pedestrian-friendly.
The city already has areas for pedestrians to enjoy the street vibe, eat and drink at cafés and pop into shops. St George’s Mall, Company’s Garden and Greenmarket Square, for example, are great places to relax in the city’s open spaces and keep moving at the same time. However, the goal now is to link these thoroughfares and create new routes just outside the centre of town to form a wider network.
Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana heads up the Cape Town Partnership, a development collaboration between the city and the private sector. She says during the World Cup, Cape Town’s potential as a pedestrian city became clear. “Thousands of foreigners explored the CBD on foot and there has been much feedback on how they enjoyed this.”
More and more Capetonians are taking ownership of the streets. To this end, signage has been improved and pavements have been landscaped and widened to accommodate cyclists and walking routes. The extra space encourages restaurants and cafés to move tables out onto the pavements, adding to a festive public atmosphere, particularly along the Waterkant Street 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Fan Walk route.
For Makalima-Ngewana, the design of a walkable city must create “essential connectivity between areas such as public spaces, education institutes, and both existing and developing economic nodes”. Cape Town’s East City Design Initiative, focused on the spaces east of Buitenkant Street, is a great example.
The Cape Technikon and the Cape Craft & Design Institute’s FabLab form a hub around Harrison Street for creative design, crafts and high-tech industries. It’s young Cape Town – vibrant, innovative and surprisingly sophisticated.
“I want to start by inviting all those that come into the city centre on a daily basis to get out of the office, take a lunchtime walk and take a really good look around,” says Makalima-Ngewana.