The Sandton Times will be sharing information on the EcoMobility Festival, from October 1 to October 31, to help those who live, work and visit Sandton to navigate Africa’s richest square mile during this time.

Driven by the City of Johannesburg, the upcoming EcoMobility Festival is part of the city’s plan to decongest traffic and give preference to public transport, bicycles and pedestrians on Sandton streets. With the high and growing levels of traffic congestion in Sandton, the country’s leading business hub, combined with the expansion of the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System in Sandton, a long-term solution needed to be developed and implemented before Sandton turned into a parking lot.

Sandton Central Management District has facilitated communication between the City of Johannesburg and businesses in the Sandton CBD over the past nine months in preparation for the EcoMobility Festival.

Sandton Central advises that Sandton residents, workers and visitors will still have full access to the Sandton CBD during the EcoMobility Festival, but the emphasis will be on using public transport to move in and out of the CBD. There will also be new ways to move around the area. Sandton’s CBD was originally not built for any mode of traveling other than private vehicles. Now, as part of the city’s festival initiative, it is putting in place infrastructure to enable safe walking and cycling as well as public transport.

“The EcoMobility Festival has put the Sandton CBD at the forefront of the city’s attention with vital investment in public transport that is not fully available in the area. Public transport is one of the sustainable solutions to ensuring Sandton remains competitive and the preferred location of choice for business and tourism in the city. By choosing Sandton as the location for its World EcoMobility Festival, the City of Johannesburg is giving us all a chance to choose new alternative ways of getting around Sandton, during and after the event.”

– City Improvement District Manager for Sandton Central Management District, Elaine Jack

While a small portion of the Sandton CBD roadway is being restricted to private vehicles during the EcoMobility Festival, much more space is being given to the city’s people. The initiative goes beyond simple traffic decongestion and reducing vehicle emissions, by giving people the opportunity to live more balanced healthy lives associated with leading city’s globally.

West Street will become a dedicated pedestrian zone during the EcoMobility Festival. This area will span about 100 metres of the West Street roadway, from around Maude Street to Fredman Drive. There will be more space for pedestrians and cyclists on three of the streets that intersect West Street.

Maude and Stella will have limited access for local vehicle users and construction vehicles, while Alice Lane will function in the same way, but also offer access for public transport, including metred taxis and Tuk Tuks. On certain weekends, Gwen Lane will be activated as an EcoMobility zone, but on weekdays it will remain open to vehicles from Fredman Drive.

All this will be surrounded by a public transport loop running around the Sandton CBD on Fredman Drive, Fifth Street and Rivonia Road, which will remain open to all vehicles, but will feature a dedicated bus lane and wider pavements. Preparation work is already beginning on this loop. Those using the public transport offering can enjoy reading or networking, instead of getting hot under the collar in Sandton‘s notorious bad traffic, while catching a bus from one of more than a dozen park and ride venues across the region, or taking the Gautrain into the Sandton CBD.

“We’ll have more, safer spaces to walk and cycle.”

– City Improvement District Manager for Sandton Central Management District, Elaine Jack

For the 10,000 people who walk from Alexandra to Sandton every day, the city will be upgrading the walkways and offering a dedicated pedestrian and cycling bridge across the M1 carriageway into Sandton that is safe and dignified. Johannesburg isn’t alone in wanting to improve its public spaces. New York, Paris and Singapore are among others that have recently created city centre pedestrian zones and traffic restrictions. The EcoMobility Festival stands to have big benefits for decongesting Sandton and improving its access.

“We know Sandton already experiences frustrating levels of traffic congestion. This festival is the one of the first steps to improving this. It forces us to deal with our congestion issue. The changes during October will take some getting used to, but we believe everyone should become familiar with the set up in no time at all.”

– City Improvement District Manager for Sandton Central Management District, Elaine Jack

For the month of October, Sandton CBD will benefit from a whole host of resources that it wouldn’t otherwise enjoy. It will also have the support of the entire world, to help find new, better, more environmentally respectful ways of getting around Sandton, as part of this global event.

“We encourage people to challenge themselves and step out of their comfort zones, and their cars, even if it is a little frustrating at first. Try the new mobility options. Rethink how you get around the node. Making that behavioural change is always going to be difficult, but we hope this event will open up dialogues within corporates and among workers to see what alternatives work and what can be done better in future. We are all invested in the future of Sandton. It is exciting that we can all play a role in ensuring that this vibrant city remains at the forefront of places to live, work and visit in South Africa.”

– City Improvement District Manager for Sandton Central Management District, Elaine Jack

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