Johannesburg to ban cars for one month in CBD

EcoMobility World Festival 2015 officially launched

Johannesburg, 17 March 2015: In October this year, the City of Johannesburg will close a key part of the Sandton Central Business District (CBD) to cars and encourage walking, cycling and use of public transport for the entire month.

This unique event is taking place as part of the EcoMobility World Festival. Johannesburg is the first city in Africa and the second city in the world to host the Festival. Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau officially launched the EcoMobility World Festival project on 17 March 2015 at an event attended by key stakeholders in Johannesburg.

“We want people to celebrate, enjoy the car-free Sandton. We want the future now,” announced Johannesburg Mayor Cllr Parks Tau. He continued: "We have never imagined Sandton, the economic powerhouse of Joburg, to be a parking lot. Through the Festival, we will redefine mobility in Sandton. The new mobility needs to be an integrated one that serves people.”

ICLEI’s Secretary General Gino Van Begin said: “An EcoMobility World Festival is the chance for a city to demonstrate to the entire world that citizens and city leaders can make a difference in addressing climate change, urban emissions and urban liveability through mobility. The way we move defines the future of our cities. ICLEI is proud of the citizens and the leadership of Johannesburg for having taken such a landmark decision.”

“The EcoMobility World Festival is a once-in-a-life time opportunity for the local community to try out a scenario of future sustainable living,” commented initiator and Creative Director of the EcoMobility Festivals, Konrad Otto-Zimmermann. Otto-Zimmermann works at The Urban Idea and is a former head of ICLEI. “It means experiencing and showcasing an ecomobile lifestyle in a real city, by real people, in real time.”

Over the next few months, the City of Johannesburg will engage in participatory approaches with residents, property owners, businesses and transport stakeholders to finalize the roads to be closed, the alternative arrangements and the festival activities.

“The city is committed to involving all relevant stakeholders to ensure participative decision-making in the event, and to communicate, celebrate and visualize a low carbon future through the lens of EcoMobility”, concluded Mayor Parks Tau. 

During the event, Mayor Parks Tau also inaugurated the book “Neighborhood in Motion”. The book documents the unique experience of the South Korean city of Suwon in hosting the first EcoMobility World Festival. The book also narrates the experience of the citizens of the neighborhood from their initial opposition to the idea of removing cars to their acceptance of a car-free lifestyle. It also mentions the experiences of various visitors who came to Suwon in curiosity and left filled with awe at the city leadership and the stakeholder involvement. 

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