From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 27th October 2011
The iconic Long Street may be permanently pedestrianised. In September, residents and businesses started to tweet about the possibility and the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) subsequently sent out a survey to find out what residents thought. According to the survey, which 17 people completed, just over 50% believe it’s a good idea.
Long Street resident, Piers Allen, who has lived in the area for more than 15 years wasn’t sure if he supported the idea. “I hope it would quieten the street and, from vehicular noise, this is likely. “However, I worry that the party aspect of the street, the night economy, the way the clubs and people spill onto the road treating it as an open-air night club, might simply get worse if traffic no longer drives along it. “This noise and ‘busyness’ disturbs me more than the car noise. However, the ridiculous disco club buses that drive around town – making the glass in our windows shake – and which are obscenely intrusive, would no longer bother us. That would be a great plus. “The flood of slow-cruising taxis and visiting cars, which block all lanes from late at night till the early hours, would also go,” he said. Mr Allen said he would recommend that it be tried for a year. He also said Long Street should be pedestrianised from Wale Street to Buitensingel.
While there is no formal proposal to pedestrianise, a majority seemed to favour pedestrianising the street between Wale and Buitensingel and hardly ever mentioned the lower end towards the Foreshore. Russell Wightman who lives in Bree Street, said he believed it would be a big mistake. “Long Street along with Adderley, Loop, Bree, Buitengracht streets are the main arteries of the city. “They lead people from one end to the other. Already all these streets are clogged; to remove one of them might actually cause a bigger problem. “What might work is to close the street to vehicles from 10am to 3pm. “A project of this size would need a lot of planning and would cost a lot of money. “Long Street is almost always closed to vehicles when big events are held but that works because it’s temporary,” he said.
Thomas Atkinson, manager of Long Street Backpackers said he was split on the issue. One the one hand it would encourage more people to walk through the city and on the other hand it could become a problem for businesses, he said “It would be nice to have fewer cars and less traffic through the street but what about businesses and deliveries?” he asked. Councillor Dave Bryant, said he was aware of the blogs and tweets on the topic and said while he didn’t have an opinion he would be willing to have public meetings to discuss it. “I don’t have a particular stance, but should residents and businesses feel very strongly about the issue, I can certainly host public meetings where people could explore the idea. “There are many concerns and aspects that would have to be taken into consideration,” Mr Bryant said.
Jody Aufrichtig, one of the partners and owners of Indigo Properties which owns several buildings in Long Street said he believed it was a great idea. He said he and his partners, Nick Ferguson and Barry Harlen made a proposal to the City six years ago to have Long Street closed from 7pm on a Friday to Sunday. “The idea was that there would be booms that would drop and no cars would be allowed in the area. “Our aim was to create an entertainment hub, where party goers could enjoy a pedestrianised street while spending a night out on the town. “We spent R250 000 on our proposal and got the support of other property owners. The City wouldn’t co-operate and it fell through. I am glad that there are talks about this again and I am more than willing to head this project but this will need co-operation from all roleplayers including the City,” he said Mr Aufrichtig told the CapeTowner that he believed the pedestrianisation of Long Street could have a positive impact on nightlife as well as tourism. “The benefit for businesses is tremendous and we could see significant growth in the area,” he said.
Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Roads and Stormwater said no proposal for the pedestrianisation of Long Street is currently being considered. “Should such a proposal be put forward, a technical and feasibility investigation would be required that covers aspects such as land use, pedestrian volumes, access and mobility function, public transport function, route function within the broader road network, parking capacity, loading demand, available alternative routing. “As the feasibility of the pedestrianisation of Long Street would require significant technical input, it is not possible to indicate at this stage whether the City supports such an initiative or not. “Long and Waterkant Streets play different functions within the CBD road network. “Waterkant Street provides more localised access and Long Street provides both direct access, but also play a more important role in terms of providing connectivity (a mobility function) in the city. “This is evident through the presence of buses, minibus and sedan taxis and delivery vehicles throughout the day,” he said. Mr Herron said the following points were important to note:
– Long Street has pavements with adequate width on both sides.
– The frequent signalised intersections reduce traffic speed.
– The St George’s Mall area already provides for a pedestrian friendly environment in the CBD.
– Long Street provides an important linkage function both to and through the CBD.
– Long Street has a combined one directional couplet function with Loop Street.
– Altering the function of Long Street will impact on the role and function of other roads.
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