February 01, 2003

Enrique Peñalosa Inspires Change in South Africa

The three-hour conference was well attended by high-level officials from many relevant decision-making authorities. Former Mayor of Cape Town and long-time cycling advocate Frank van der Velde said that for the first time in 20 years he had witnessed a gathering of all of the relevant individuals and authorities from the City, Transport and Planning.  

“I have battled for 20 years to see this happen,” he said.

Cape Town Provincial Minister for Transport Tasneem Essop opened the event, stating that she was overwhelmed by Mr. Peñalosa’s message. Minister Essop made a commitment to review the way the City and the Province tackle future transport decisions, with a renewed focus on creating a city with dignity and pride. The Minister said this would be realized through the provision of public space and low-cost modes of transportation to the poorest communities.

The Minister also announced during the meeting a provincial decision not to go forward with the completion of the Forosboro Freeway ? freeing up more space and resources for safe pedestrian corridors.

“I can safely say that the talk by Enrique Peñalosa was the most inspiring and thought provoking experience I’ve had in my career in transportation planning in the last three years,” said Transport Engineer Bertie Phillips. “You have certainly exceeded my expectations of the ITDP’s commitment and involvement in Africa.”

While the tour was just the beginning of the hard work, it was an important one that reached all the relevant authorities. ITDP’s new South Africa staff will ensure that these authorities have the correct institutional support to move forward – through advocacy, bicycle promotion events, bicycle supply and educational training programs and general program support.

The Pretoria event was slightly smaller than the other stops, with about 40 decision-makers and officials in attendance. Attendees were particularly interested in Bogotá‘s Bus Rapid Transit line, and talked of replicating the system in Pretoria.

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