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Thursday / 20 June 2024
HomeNewsCape Town is closing 337 pedestrian and cycling lanes – Here’s why

Cape Town is closing 337 pedestrian and cycling lanes – Here’s why

The City of Cape Town this week closed 15 pedestrian and cycle lanes across Mitchells Plain in areas where these are used for nefarious activities, following calls from the local community for the city to intervene in rising instances of gangsterism and crime.

To date, up to 72 of these “problematic lanes” have been shuttered including this week’s 15, with another 265 in the pipeline.

Deputy Mayor Eddie Andrews revealed that it costs approximately R33,000 to close one of these lanes, with Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis committing a total of R600,000 from the Mayoral fund, which will be available from 1 July 2024, to finance the initiative.

A long time coming

Years ago when Mitchells Plain was developed, the town planners designed the neighbourhood with hundreds of alleys allowing pedestrians and cyclists to easily get from one area to the next.

Unfortunately, these dimly-lit and secluded passages have since become safe havens for criminals and gangsters, as well as easy escape routes should they be pursued by law enforcement.

Over time, the city received more and more requests for lane closures from neighbourhoods such as Mitchells Plain, and as a result, Alderman Andrews initiated the barring process in 2013.

It’s not as straightforward as the authorities simply pitching up and closing an alleyway, however. It is a time-consuming statutory process that must be abided by.

Requests for lane closures must be submitted to the local subcouncil for consideration before any work can be done.

If supported, a public participation process will commence to allow residents to submit comments on the proposed closure, including comments from city departments that must indicate whether the affected lane has any underground services infrastructure such as water and sewer mains.

Input is also required from the Urban Mobility Directorate in terms of the importance of the alley for pedestrian movement; and from the Safety and Security Directorate in terms of access in times of emergencies such as a fire.

When this is completed, the subcouncil considers the public’s input and the feedback from city departments, and makes a recommendation to council for the closure, which must be supported by the affected property owners and the majority of residents in the area.

“Those residents whose properties are abutting the affected lanes must be willing to lease these from the city and incorporate it into their properties for gardening purposes, but are not allowed to build any structures on the land that formed part of the alley as this remains city-owned land,” said Andrews.

Going forward, Cape Town is streamlining and expediting the process by tackling multiple lane closures at a time as it fights lawlessness within its jurisdiction.

However, funding remains a challenge, meaning the metro can only implement a closure if there is money to do so.

As such, Deputy Mayor Andrews has called upon local subcouncils to consider financing the projects from their financial allocations and including them in their financial planning.

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