Windhoek to host maiden Open Streets Day
The City of Windhoek (CoW) will host its first-ever Open Streets Day in support of the CoW’s Sustainable Urban Transport Master Plan (SUTMP), on 26 October in Windhoek.
To accommodate the event, a portion of Independence Avenue – between Kasino Street and Sam Nujoma Drive will be temporarily closed off to all motorised traffic from 8h00 to 13h00.
Windhoek residents and visitors are invited to come play, cycle, walk and move around freely in the open street space, without the nuisance of cars and the associated safety risks.
According to CoW communications department there will be games, arts and crafts, Zumba, yoga, dance classes, a fun-filled kiddies corner and much more for the public to enjoy.
Meanwhile the Open Streets Day idea is envisioned to rotate to different parts of the City over time.
The CoW’s SUTMP was developed together with the Ministry of Works and Transport and the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development. CoW mayor, Muesee Kazapua explained in the City’s non-motorised transport strategy, as part of the SUTMP, that, “The need for a new planning approach is acknowledged, which provides sustainable transport options for all citizens, especially the destitute, children, elderly and disabled. A key component of this is the City of Windhoek’s aspiration to become a cycle and pedestrian friendly city.”
Open Streets Day is aimed at imparting a mind-set change, encouraging vehicle owners to start seeing city streets as public spaces and consider alternative modes of transport – leading to a greater focus on non-motorised transport (NMT) opportunities.
According to research done as part of the SUTMP, only about 20% of Windhoek’s households can afford to own a car. A significant number of Windhoek residents make use of NMT daily as they commute to and from bus stations, places of work, educational institutions and/or walk to water collection points in informal settlements.
Mayor Kazapua said the CoW is ready to take on the challenge to become a smart city by 2022, and that includes smart mobility solutions.
“A working public transport system, supported by an inter-connected NMT network is essential to provide the community with the necessary flexibility to travel around the City. Walking, cycling or using public transport should not be seen as secondary to driving your own vehicle. People who make use of these modes of transport should be able to do so in the most dignified manner,” he explained in the SUTMP.
The Open Streets initiative is celebrated globally and has of late become popular on the African continent with countries such as Rwanda and South Africa hosting them on a regular basis.
The event is sponsored by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the First National Bank of Namibia and organised by the Private Sector Road Safety Forum, SunCycles Namibia, the Automobile Association, MVA Fund, Namibia Cycling Federation and the Namibia Public Passenger Transport Association.