October is Transport Month. It is part of a campaign by the National Department of Transport and Public Works to raise awareness about the importance of transport in our economy and to encourage awareness about safe, affordable, accessible and reliable transport system for everyone.
Our roads and transport system is always an important topic due to the heavy congestion and limited parking available across our municipal area on a daily basis. Various factors contribute to the transportation challenges we face including the university and the large numbers of tourists we welcome daily.
As Mayor, I have tackled the transport issue since I came into office in 2016. For the past year, we have been in constant contact with the Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works to discuss solutions. This has resulted in a public meeting as well continued discussions between myself and Minister Donald Grant. The challenges we face with transport in our area is unique due to our heritage and environmental assets. Therefore it requires out of the box thinking not only from the side of government but also from our residents.
As a Municipality we are also making changes wherever possible to ease congestion.
We are in the process of upgrading three intersections at the moment. The intersections involved include R44/Merriman Lane, R44/ Bird Street/ Koelenhof Road and Helshoogte Road/Lily Street. The upgrades will result in additional turn lanes as well as new traffic lights in strategic areas. We have also made a start on addressing the parking problem in the greater Stellenbosch. The Council has launched an investigative process, known as a Section 78 process, where various solutions will be investigated. This will include a public participation component. Be on the lookout for this. Your inputs are important because various models are considered including parking garages, park and ride and motor free zones.
The purpose of Transport Month is to showcase some alternative solutions to residents on problems such as traffic and parking congestion. Alternative modes of transport are at the very top of the list, especially for local residents. Cycling remains one of the most popular alternative modes of transport and during this Transport Month Stellenbosch Municipality has partnered with Stellenbosch Cycle to highlight cycling as a solution on the campus. This program will be implemented in the week of 16 to 20 October 2017. With all residential areas in the Stellenbosch town within a 5km radius from the centre of town, it is geographically ideal for cycling. Some residents living within the immediate vicinity of the CBD are requested to walk should they not feel comfortable cycling.
We are also encouraging people to car pool. Thousands people commute to Stellenbosch by private vehicle on a daily basis. The average vehicle occupancy of these vehicles travelling to Stellenbosch is 1,15. Doubling this average vehicle occupancy rate to 2,3 will result in reducing the vehicle travelling into Stellenbosch by an estimated 50% and bringing the traffic volumes figures to below the capacity of the road network. That is why I want to encourage commuters to participate in this Rideshare Project during Transport Week (16 to 20 October 2017 ) and experience the benefit of the reduced traffic congestion. A number of companies provide rideshare applications and websites where commuters can register to share rides. Have a look and share these websites: www.jumpinrides.co.za, www.findalift.co.za,www.ugomyway.com, www.cartrip.co.za and www.gometro.co.za. We request that you choose one or more of these websites to locate people to share rides.
I want to encourage all residents to partake in Transport Week and Transport Month. Not only will it help congestion on our roads, it will also save you money and will have a long term positive impact on our environment. We need to adjust the way we view transport and how we use it. European countries have made these changes very successfully and I believe we can too. It is possible to become one of the first regions in South Africa to reduce traffic by adjusting our own behaviour. I want to encourage all residents to dust of your bicycles where possible to cycle to work. To our residents driving to work; please be mindful of cyclists as well as pedestrians at all times. We will continue to work with all partners to create an inclusive transport system that will benefit everyone.
STATEMENT BY EXECUTIVE MAYOR OF STELLENBOSCH MUNICIPALITY – GESIE VAN DEVENTER