When people complain that they are stuck in traffic, we tell them that they are, in fact, the traffic,” Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau said in Sandton on Sunday 4 October.
Mayor Tau was speaking at the start of “Streets Alive – Jozi W-R-1” fair that set the tone for the EcoMobility World Festival, which officially kicks off today (Monday October 5). For a few hours yesterday, Johannesburg residents reclaimed their streets from vehicular traffic and changed the way they navigated the nooks and crannies of the urban jungle.
The carnival-like festival featured jugglers on unicycles, choristers from Alexandra, police officers on horseback, marimba players, BMX tricksters, mime artists, face painters, breakdancers, electric bike riders and Geza Jozi waste reclaimers and attracted hundreds of residents.
Mayor Tau said the Ecomobility World Festival would serve as an introduction to the new future of mobility and transport in Johannesburg.
“For our economy to grow and flourish, we need to decongest our roads and have fewer people spending time in their cars stuck in traffic. That is why the city, supported by the national and provincial government, is investing in transport infrastructure such as bridges, cycling lanes and spaces for pedestrians,” said Tau.
He paid tribute to his predecessor, Amos Masondo, for laying the groundwork that allowed the City to become the second host of the international festival. He then stepped onto his Segway, a two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered vehicle that he will use during the festival.
Riding next to him at the front of the procession on their way to Alexandra was Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who retraced the steps he once took on foot in his teens.
Premier Makhura said he would, for the duration of the festival, use Gautrain and Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system to commute to and from work.
Yeom Tae-Young, the Mayor of Suwon, the Korean city that hosted the inaugural EcoMobility World Festival two years ago, said he hoped Johannesburg would achieve social integration the way the Koreans did.
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said ecomobillity was not only good on the pocket but also made for cleaner air and healthier lungs.
One of the participants in the street fair was Sandton resident Zintle Nkosi.
“As from Monday (today), I’ll park my car here in Sandton and cycle to work in Bryanston,” Nkosi, who has been cycling for a year, said.