Pandemic means no jams on Cape Town roads: 'Let's keep it that way'

30 July 2020 - 15:05 By Aron Hyman
Cape Town has been named among 30 of the world's most congested cities and has topped SA's list. Stock image.
Cape Town has been named among 30 of the world's most congested cities and has topped SA's list. Stock image.
Image: 123RF/Khongkit Wiriyachan

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Cape Town, the daily commute for thousands of people meant hours wasted.

But even after the easing of lockdown, gridlock has yet to return. In June, freeways carried just two-thirds of normal traffic.

Now Cape Town officials are plotting ways to sustain the new normal and confine Cape Town’s notorious traffic jams to the annals of history.

Felicity Purchase, the mayoral committee member for transport, believes the pandemic has confirmed that congestion can be significantly reduced by managing demand for travel.

“Working remotely, at home, instead of from an office; travelling to work outside the traditional peak hours; and using more sustainable ways to travel — for example, walking, cycling or joining lift clubs and using public transport — can have a lasting effect on traffic congestion, and will significantly lower our carbon footprint,” she said on Thursday.

“Residents are now living and working in the same space. Hopefully, they will continue to do so. However, we also have to ask ourselves what effect will this have on our traditional neighbourhoods, central business districts and land uses across the city in future.”

Ideas being discussed include:

  • Prioritising road-based public transport by providing an outbound bus, minibus taxi (BMT) lane on the N2 through Hospital Bend to Raapenberg Road and beyond; and identifying other roads where BMT lanes can be implemented;
  • Providing more and improved public-transport options;
  • Enabling remote working or flexible working hours for government officials beyond the pandemic, as officials comprise a large percentage of commuters; 
  • Promoting remote working and flexible working hours among big businesses;
  • Rolling out broadband in areas where the private sector is not yet providing fibre;
  • Encouraging pop-up remote working centres in neighbourhoods where residents will have access to wi-fi and meeting rooms;
  • Prioritising walking and cycling in business precincts and providing easy access to safe lock-up facilities for bicycles at shopping centres and workplaces; and
  • Encouraging and promoting carpooling and ride-sharing.

Purchase said the city council would work with the Western Cape government and big business in the coming months.

“All of us have travelled on quieter roads over the past few months, and have experienced what commuting is like when traffic flows. We can make this a lasting experience if we work together in changing our travel behaviour beyond Covid-19,” she said.

© TimesLIVE

PODCAST | Traffic jams are back! What now?

Subscribe for free: | | Pocket Casts