SPEECH BY THE CITY’S MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER: TRANSPORT FOR CAPE TOWN, COUNCILLOR BRETT HERRON
Note to editors: the following is an extract from a speech delivered by Councillor Herron at the Mobility Indaba, today 7 October 2016 in Kenilworth.
On behalf of Transport for Cape Town and the City of Cape Town I would like to thank all of you for participating in the Mobility Indaba.
A special thanks to the Dutch Consul-General and her team for spearheading this initiative and to Wesgro and Accelerate Cape Town for your support.
We have just emerged from an extraordinary local government election which became as much about the state of our country as it was about local service delivery issues.We are honoured and humbled by the vote of confidence that this government received and we accept the responsibility to fundamentally improve the lives of those who rely on us the most and to govern in a way that will entrench Cape Town’s social and economic sustainability.
Not surprisingly, as we campaigned across the city two pleas were resounding: a call for housing and a call for jobs.
It always surprised me that I didn’t hear more about ‘transport’ as we engaged with voters. Where we did, it was inevitably about the state of Metrorail or traffic congestion that people complained about.
I know that this is not because our city’s transport is the best it can be. My guess is that for most, the high cost, inconvenience and challenge of moving around our city has become part of life in South Africa – a pattern that has existed for decades.
I know, and you know, that the current state of mobility in Cape Town is unsustainable and that the barriers of cost and inefficiency entrench economic exclusion.
Also, the growth in private car ownership and road consumption is a threat to our city’s economy and our ability to attract job-creating investment.
The scale of urbanisation and population growth we are facing is staggering.
Our Integrated Human Settlements Framework – the strategy which we have adopted to address the housing crisis – identified that over the next 20 years we will need to provide an additional 650 000 housing opportunities.
This is a mammoth task and executing a plan to address such a scale of need cannot be ‘business-as-usual’.
We will make a disastrous mistake if we pursued a plan to deliver housing opportunities at that scale without also addressing mobility and access in an integrated way.
It goes without saying, to those of you here, that pursuing low density public housing on the outskirts of our city is not a solution.
Our Transit Orientated Development Strategic Framework – adopted by Council earlier this year (and which has just been nominated for a C40 Award) – is the new order of business.
It is a bold commitment to correcting our spatial reality over the next few decades.
It is a plan that prioritises more efficient land use with increased densities and mixed uses.
It prioritises the right development in the right locations to reduce travel times and costs. It also prioritises public transport and non-motorised transport.
Some people may not agree with these priorities.
Densification, integration and anything that de-values the private car are all lightning rods for a barrage of complaints and criticism.
In the run up to the Mobility Indaba, I issued a statement announcing that we intend to release a draft cycling strategy for public comment in the coming months.
The purpose of the strategy is to grow our modal share of utility cycling.
It must be made clear: when I asked TCT to prepare for a cycling strategy my priority was not recreational or sport cycling.
My concern was, and is, the shortcomings of our roll-out of about 450 km of cycle lanes to bring about a fundamental shift in modal share despite substantial investment in infrastructure.
I am also concerned about the cost barrier to access a bike for those who cannot afford motorised transport. The question is how can we assist the 33% of low-income households whose only mode of transport is walking? What would be the impact on their lives if we could make cycling accessible?
What about the cycling economy and value chain? What if we could improve bike access through local manufacturing? And what about the enterprise development opportunities like bike repair or bike storage?
Also, what is the impact or value of the fairly substantial recreational or sport cycling culture and events in our city?
Up to 35 000 people participate in the annual Cape Town Cycle Tour. They spend hours on a bike training for the event and then cycle 110 km on the event day – but how many also cycle to work?
In short, we cannot pursue a cycling agenda that relies entirely on infrastructure.
Also, where infrastructure is necessary to increase cycling access we most certainly need a new approach to the decisions on location and the design of the infrastructure.
In this regard I have requested the Commissioner for Transport for Cape Town, who is also the Chairperson of our Intermodal Planning Committee (IPC), to establish an IPC sub-committee for non-motorised transport.
I am inviting committed stakeholders to assist us with implementing the strategy, once it is adopted, and to share your knowledge and experience as we implement components such as infrastructure.
Our residents and voters identified jobs and housing as top priorities for them. No-one would dispute that this is a reality.
I am adding mobility and access, in other words, transport, because decent housing cannot be provided without also providing access and mobility or without locating new housing to enable mobility.
Likewise, having a job but being unable to access it or unable to access it affordably is an obvious failure of transportation and spatial planning.
As we adopt this Sustainable Mobility Action Plan my final comment is one on urgency.
Our task is not only massive, it is also urgent.
We have a plan, we have a vision and we are committed to radically transforming mobility in Cape Town. For these to succeed, we must speed up our actions so that our plans are not overtaken by development and economic and social events that will not wait for us.
I cannot stress this enough. Our pace of implementation cannot be bogged down by red-tape and bureaucracy. In this term of office, our task is to get it done.