Streetiquette teaches people about road safety

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red-riding-hood---textOne of the performances for Streetiquette is “Little Red Riding Hood crossing the street”. (Image: Open Streets Cape Town)

A campaign to raise awareness of pedestrian safety is under way in Cape Town to minimise the risks pedestrians face in the streets.

The campaign, aptly named Streetiquette, is inspired by a popular form of engagement in Latin America in which colourful performances and interactive theatre are used to tackle unsafe and irresponsible behaviour on urban streets by motorists and pedestrians. The campaign aims to trigger self-observation, self-reflection and, ultimately, self-education, and has been adapted for local audiences.

It is a collaborative effort between the Western Cape government, its Department of Transport and Public Works, and Open Streets Cape Town (OSCT), a citizen-driven initiative working to change how streets are used, perceived and experienced.

STREET PERFORMANCES

The performances started on 23 November and end on 3 December at five busy CBD intersections. They are directed by Mandisi Sindo, the artistic director of Theatre4Change Therapeutic Theatre.

A soccer referee, a gogo and Red Riding Hood will be among the characters who bring the campaign to life. They will interact with pedestrians at the intersections of Darling and Buitenkant streets, Darling and Plein streets, Wale and Long streets, Adderley and Bureau streets, and at the pedestrian crossing near Parliament on Plein Street. A “finale” will take place on 3 December at the intersection of Bree and Wale streets.

“We are anticipating an atmosphere of fun and hope Streetiquette will start an important conversation that everyone becomes a part of,” said Marcela Guerrero Casas, co-founder and managing director of OSCT.

To get involved in the action on social media, tune into the hashtags #WalkSafe, #SafeRoadsForAll and #Streetiquette and keep an eye on www.twitter.com/OpenStreetsCT.

CAPE TOWN PEDESTRIANS

According to the Western Cape government, over 2 800 pedestrians were hit by vehicles in central Cape Town from 2005 to 2014, which means a pedestrian has been struck in the area approximately every 28 hours for the past 10 years. More than 450 of these cases resulted in serious injuries.

“The Open Streets Cape Town manifesto states our strong belief that streets can be more than they are. The way we interact on those streets is the result of a combination of infrastructure regulation and human behaviour,” said Guerrero Casas.

“We believe that embedding respect in our streets can lead us to truly change them as public spaces that are inclusive and conducive to a prosperous society.”

Above all, it was a safer system we must develop, said Donald Grant, the provincial minister of transport and public works. “Right now, in the contexts of the National Development Plan, national, provincial and departmental strategic plans, we are developing the right models for the province to link legislation, institutional frameworks, infrastructure, district safety planning, public transport, population level communications and above all, data-driven intelligence and evidence, in such a way as to build a safe system that keeps people as its central focus.

“Such a system must be based on evidence and best practice, yet allow for innovation, for trial and error, as we make our way forward,” he said.