Walking, biking, and human-scale cities
Building a walkable, bike-able, and "human-scale" city is an important, but challenging part of creating just and inclusive cities. Sidewalks, bike lanes, pedestrian crossings, parks, and green areas are all pieces of the puzzle, helping citizens use their city safely and sustainably.
These reports from our community managers in Curitiba, Cali, Jakarta, Mumbai, Lagos, and Johannesburg showcase a number of initiatives working to design cities for human scale. Read on to learn more, and then add your thoughts to the discussion in the comments below.
Considerações sobre a cultura verde e de acessibilidade de Curitiba
Catalina Gomez, Coordenadora da Rede em Curitiba
O fato que Curitiba seja reconhecida como uma cidade verde, acessível e organizada não é um resultado improvisado, mais é resultado de uma cultura sólida de planejamento urbano e da liderança de suas administrações. Apresentamos alguns dos motivos que ajudam a explicar aquela boa reputação de Curitiba especialmente sobre por que é verde, acessível e "humana"; também apresentamos alguns dos desafios que enfrenta na matéria.
Iniciemos com o tamanho da cidade. Embora Curitiba seja a nona cidade brasileira em termos de população, ela ainda é considerada pequena e compacta com uma densidade populacional de 4300 pessoas por quilometro quadrado. A expansão da cidade tem sido planejada com regulações do uso da terra e por meio de processos graduais de urbanização. Além de seu tamanho pequeno, também ajuda que a cidade tenha uma topografia relativamente plana e um clima moderado.
Um dos temas que Curitiba sobressele acima das cidades Latino-americanas e até muitas de países desenvolvidos são suas áreas verdes. A cidade tem 64 quilômetros quadrados de áreas verdes por pessoa; claramente muito mais além dos 18 quilômetros quadrados por pessoas que as Nações Unidas recomendam como meta para cada cidade. Aquele ótimo indicador é resultado do planejamento dos anos 80 quando Curitiba iniciou a criar e proteger suas áreas verdes. Em 2007, a cidade lançou também um projeto para incentivar proprietários de terras a colocar parques em elas. Aqueles que adotaram o esquema conseguiam a redução de impostos. Os resultados são evidentes: Em 1988 a cidade tenha cinco parques e cinco florestas. Hoje tem 21 parques e 15 florestas, todas elas protegidas pela Secretaria Municipal de Meio Ambiente.
Outra ação importante para Curitiba tem sido a alta prioridade e o investimento nos espaços urbanos. Hoje a cidade mais de 450 praças públicas e mais de 400 pequenos jardins públicos para as pessoas caminhar, praticar esportes e socializar. Somado com um ótimo sistema de transporte público e a criação de ruas exclusivas para pedestres, a cidade é considerada amigável para os pedestres de todas as idades.
Atualmente Curitiba enfrenta problemas com a segurança dos pedestres especialmente devido ao aumento dos acidentes causados por motoristas irresponsáveis. Em resposta a aquela situação, a cidade deu inicio ao projeto Vida no Trânsito que está liderada pela Secretaria Municipal de Trânsito, a Organização Pan-Americana da Saúde e Bloomberg Philanthropies. O projeto esta presente em todas as capitais estaduais brasileiras e tem como objetivo reduzir na metade os acidentes mortais de transito até 2025. A iniciativa promove atividades de prevenção do consumo irresponsável do álcool e do respeito da sinalização viária.
Foto: Secretaria Municipal de Meio Ambiente
Why Curitiba is so green and accessible
Catalina Gomez, Curitiba Community Manager
Curitiba's reputation of being a green, accessible, and organized city is not just a random one, but a planned result of decades of strong urban planning practices and leadership by local administrations. Let's take a look at what the city has done well to achieve its reputation — specifically, why is it so green, accessible, and even "humane" — while also examining some of the challenges it faces in these respects.
First, let's start with size. Curitiba is Brazil's ninth-largest city in terms of population and is one of the country's most influential cities. It is, however, considered relatively compact and manageable, with a population density of 4,300 people per square kilometer. The expansion of the city has been planned with strong land regulations and through guided processes of urbanization, contributing to the prevention of urban sprawl. The facts that the city is fairly manageable in size and has an easy topography and moderate weather contribute to its "enabling environment."
In terms of green spaces, Curitiba is way ahead of most Latin American cities and even of many cities in the developed world. The city has 64 square meters of green space per person, one of the highest ratios in Latin America. It is clearly ahead of the UN-recommended benchmark of 18 square meters per person. Since the 1980s, Curitiba has been creating new green areas and protecting them from damage. In addition, the city launched a project in 2007 to incentivize landowners to establish public parks on their private land: landowners who adopted the initiative were exempt from various state and federal land taxes. Results speak for themselves: in 1988, the city had five parks and five forests; today, it has 21 parks and 15 forests, all protected by the Municipal Secretariat of Environment.
Curitiba's high accessibility ranking stems from the fact that it has invested heavily in public spaces. Today, it has more than 450 public squares and more than 400 small public gardens where residents can walk, exercise, and interact. This, along with a good working public transportation system and the adaptation of pedestrian-only streets, means that almost the entire city is pedestrian-friendly.
But Curitiba is currently facing several challenges with respect to pedestrian safety. Lately, the city has been experiencing a rise in pedestrian accidents due to irresponsible car drivers. The city therefore started the Vida no Trânsito project (Life in Transit) to reduce accidents caused by irresponsible driving, including alcohol abuse and disrespect for transit regulations. This initiative is led by the Municipal Secretariat of Transportation, along with the Pan-American Health Organization and Bloomberg Philanthropies. The project is present in all Brazilian state capitals, and aims at reducing by half the number of lethal accidents by 2025. The initiative also develops awareness campaigns and joint partnerships between government and civil society.
Photo credit: Curitiba's Secretariat of Environment
Bulevar del Rio: devolviendo al peatón un lugar en la ciudad
Jorge Bela, Gestor Comunitario de Cali
Desde mediados del siglo XX Cali ha experimentado un crecimiento muy significativo. La población que en 1951 era de 284.000 personas, pasó a 1.400.000 en 1991, y a 2.3200.000 en el 2013. El antiguo dentro histórico se ha visto rodeado por una sucesión de hasta 22 comunas en una extensión de 120.000 km2. La creciente necesidad de traslados dentro de la ciudad, y la ausencia de un sistema de transporte masivo, resultaron en un crecimiento explosivo en el número de vehículos circulando por la ciudad, y que en el último censo publicado, con datos del 2011, superaban ya el medio millón. Para acomodar todo este tráfico rodado, los sucesivos gobiernos municipales buscaron ampliar las calzadas y crearon vías rápidas, desplazando al peatón a un segundo lugar. Como consecuencia de todas estas dinámicas, Cali se convirtió en una ciudad sumamente congestionada, difícil y peligrosa para los peatones y ciclistas, y con un considerable déficit de espacios públicos.
La creación de un sistema masivo de transporte basado en buses expresos, MIO (Masivo Integrado de Occidente), y que fue puesto en operación en 2009, fue un paso significativo en la mejora del transporte público. Tan grande fue su aceptación, que más allá de su utilidad práctica se convirtió en un símbolo unificador para la ciudad. Sin embargo, no contribuyó a mejorar la situación de los peatones o ciclistas, pues utiliza carriles exprés exclusivos, y circula a gran velocidad, dejando el resto de las vías congestionadas e inaccesibles.
Sin embargo, la inauguración del pasado mes de mayo del Bulevar del Río, un corredor peatonal de cerca de 800 metros de longitud en pleno centro histórico, supuso un punto de inflexión en la relación entre el peatón y los vehículos motorizados en Cali. El Bulevar ocupa el espacio sobre el que transcurría la Avenida Colombia, tradicionalmente una de las principales de la ciudad, pero que debido al incesante tráfico y congestión se había degradado de forma considerable. El proyecto, que había sido discutido durante décadas, finalmente se inauguró el pasado mes de mayo, y el proyecto fue liderado por la arquitecta caleña Elly Burkhardt. El tráfico se ha desviado a un túnel del 980 metros de longitud, aunque por el bulevar circula una línea del MIO, aunque lo hace con la velocidad limitada a 20km por hora, lo que permite compartir el espacio con los peatones.
Los beneficios del proyecto son evidentes: se ha creado un gran espacio público en pleno centro de la ciudad, que permite además el disfrute del Río Cali, que es singularmente bonito. También facilita el transporte a pié y en bicicleta por una zona de alta densidad y donde se concentran grandes centros de trabajo, como la propia alcaldía y las sedes de varias empresas. Queda pendiente la ordenación de los predios adyacentes al bulevar, que no se han intervenido y que aún reflejan el deterioro de la antigua Avenida Colombia, y la integración con el resto del centro histórico. Entre tanto, este proyecto constituye un firme primer paso en la devolución a los peatones del espacio perdido a favor de los vehículos motorizados.
Bulevar del Río: opening up spaces for pedestrians
Jorge Bela, Cali Community Manager
Cali's growth since the mid-20th century has been exponential. Population went from 284,000 in 1951 to 1,400,000 in 1991, and then to 2,320,000 in 2013. The traditional city center became surrounded by 22 neighborhoods and a total urban extension of 120,000 km2. Increase in size meant an increase in transportation needs, and in the absence of a mass transportation system, the number of motorized vehicles grew to over 500,000 by 2011, the last year for which official records are available. In order to accommodate these vehicles, roads where expanded at the expense of sidewalks, and highways were built within the city. As a consequence, Cali became a difficult and dangerous city for pedestrians and cyclists, at the same time that traffic congestion has worsened.
The creation of a bus rapid transit system (BRT), put into service in 2009, brought a considerable improvement in Cali's public transportation options. In fact, the system, known as MIO ("mine" in Spanish, which stands for Masivo Integrado de Occidente), became a unifying symbol for the city. The system, nevertheless, does not benefit pedestrians and cyclists, as the buses run through dedicated express high-speed lines, from which all other traffic is excluded. Thus, the rest of the lanes remain congested with cars and motorcycles, and dangerous for everyone else.
The opening last May of the Bulevar del Río represented a turning point in the relationship between motor vehicles and pedestrians and cyclists in Cali. It is a pedestrian corridor along the river, about 800m in length, located in the heart of the city's traditional center. It replaces the Avenida Colombia, once a premier location where fancy hotels and stores stood, but that had deteriorated substantially under the pressure of massive vehicular congestion. The project, which had been under discussion for years, included building a 980m tunnel under the Avenida to divert traffic. The design was led by local architect Elly Burkhardt. Pedestrians and cyclists share the space with one MIO line, although its speed is limited to 20km/h.
The Bulevar del Rio Project has become a large, safe, public space, in a city that sorely lacks them. It also allows for the enjoyment of the Cali River, which is particularly beautiful. Its location in the city center facilitates pedestrian transportation in one of the most densely used areas in the city, as the local government and many industries are headquartered there.
A number of challenges remain: the project did not include improvements to the buildings that border the Bulevar, and as most of these buildings are deteriorated after years of neglect, action is required to adapt them to their new premium surroundings. Also, no efforts were made to integrate the new spaces with the rest of the old city center. Further work and investment will be necessary to tackle these issues. In the meantime, the Bulevar del Rio is a strong first step in giving public spaces lost to motorized vehicles back to pedestrians.
Tantangan Jakarta menuju kota ramah sepeda
Widya Anggraini, Jakarta Community Manager
Apa yang terjadi ketika seseorang memutuskan naik sepeda di Jakarta? Rata-rata mereka pasti akan mengeluh soal betapa parah polusi dan kemacetan di jalan, belum ditambah sepeda motor atau bis kota yang tidak mau mengalah dan memotong jalan dan mobil yang kian hari jumlahnya terus bertambah. Ditengah kekacauan kota Jakarta, ada angin segar dari pemerintah yang mulai menunjukkan keberpihakan terhadap para pemakai sepeda di Jakarta dengan membuat jalur sepeda pertama kalinya tahun 2011. Meski demikian masih banyak tantangan bagi Jakarta untuk menjadi kota yang ramah bagi pemakai sepeda.
Berdasarkan data dari Direktorat Lalu Lintas (Ditlantas) Polda Metro Jaya di bulan April 2012 terdapat 13.346.802 kendaraan yang membebani Jakarta. Perinciannya adalah motor 9.861.451 unit, mobil 2.541.351 unit, mobil beban 581.290 unit, dan bus 363.710 unit. Selama ini kebijakan pemerintah untuk mengurangi kemacetan Jakarta adalah melalui penambahan jalan, tol, fly over, underpass, dan kebijakan 3-in-1 yang hanya mampu memberi efek jangka pendek sebab tidak diikuti oleh pengurangan jumlah kendaraan bermotor. Sementara itu, rata-rata pertumbuhan kendaraan bermotor mencapai 11% pertahun yang jika tidak segera diatasi akan menyebabkan Jakarta menjadi lebih macet dan kacau.
Pada tahun-tahun terakhir ini, Jakarta sudah mulai familiar dengan para pengguna sepeda. Meski jumlah mereka tidak banyak, namun hadirnya ide untuk memakai sepeda di wilayah ibukota sudah mulai terasa geliatnya. Para penggiat sepeda seperti Komite Sepeda Indonesia bahkan menyumbangkan 500 juta rupiah kepada pemerintah untuk membuat jalur sepeda. Begitu pula dengan gerakan Bike to Work Indonesia yang mulai gencar melakukan kampanye agar masyarakat beralih moda transportasi dengan sepeda menuju tempat kerja. Kampanye ini mereka lakukan mulai tahun 2004. Hingga kini sudah banyak bermunculan kelompok sepeda di Jakarta dan sekitarnya yang kerap juga melakukan acara fun bike dan touring terutama di hari minggu dan hari-hari libur lainnya untuk alasan kesehatan maupun hobi.
Kemunculan penggiat sepeda ini mulai direspon oleh pemerintah Jakarta. Misalnya pada tahun 2011 telah diresmikan untuk pertama kalinya jalur sepeda di Jakarta dengan rute Taman Ayodya menuju Blok M sepanjang 1,5 km. Kemudian di akhir tahun 2012, Gubernur DKI Jakarta meresmikan jalur sepeda terpanjang di Jakarta yaitu 6,7 km di Kanal Banjir Timur. Kanan kiri jalur sepeda juga dibuatkan ruang hijau taman yang bisa dinikmati masyarakat umum.
Meski Jakarta sudah memiliki jalur sepeda, tantangan lain yang dihadapi para pemakai sepeda adalah lemahnya penegakan hukum bagi pengguna motor yang sering menyerobot jalur sepeda seperti yang banyak terlihat di jalur sepeda Banjir Kanal Timur, Jakarta Timur. Sepeda motor selalu mengambil hak pengguna sepeda padahal Dinas Perhubungan sudah melakukan sosialisasi dan sebenarnya hak pengguna sepeda juga sudah dilindungi dalam UU No 22 Tahun 2009 tentang Jalan dan Lalu Lintas. Para penggiat sepeda akhirnya melakukan kampanye 'Rebut Jalur Sepeda' dengan mengumpulkan ratusan pengguna sepeda dan memenuhi jalur sepeda sehingga pengendara motor lain segan. Gerakan seperti ini biasa dilakukan sebagai bagian dari advokasi untuk mengingatkan penggunan kendaraan lain untuk menghormati hak orang lain.
Foto: John Watson
The challenge of making Jakarta bike-friendly
Widya Anggraini, Jakarta Community Manager
What happens when a resident decides to ride a bike in Jakarta? On average, they would complain about pollution and congestion, motorcycles and city buses cutting lanes and refusing to share the road, and the endlessly increasing number of vehicles. Amid the chaos of the city, the government has recently begun to show partiality towards bicyclists in Jakarta, building bike lanes for the first time in 2011. Nevertheless, there are still many challenges for Jakarta to overcome in order to become a bike-friendly city.
Based on data from the Directorate of Traffic City Police, there were 13,346,802 vehicles in Jakarta in the month of April 2012. This number includes 9,861,451 motorcycles, 2,541,351 cars, 581,290 trucks, and 363,710 buses. The government's efforts to reduce congestion in Jakarta through the addition of roads, tolls, flyovers, underpasses, and the 3-in-1 policy (where during peak hours, there must be a minimum of three people in one car on certain main roads) are only short-term solutions as their implementation was not followed by a reduction in the number of motor vehicles. In the meantime, the average growth in the number of motor vehicles has reached 11 percent a year, which if not immediately addressed will cause Jakarta to become even more jammed and chaotic.
In recent years, Jakarta has started to become more familiar with bicyclists. Although they are still few in number, the idea of riding a bicycle is beginning to take shape in the capital city. Bicycle activists like the Bicycle Committee of Indonesia have even donated 500 million dollars to the government to build more bike lanes. Similarly, the booming Bike to Work Indonesia movement is campaigning for citizens to switch modes of transportation and cycle to work. This campaign started in 2004. Today, many bicycling groups are emerging in Jakarta, hosting fun biking events and tours mostly during the weekends and holidays, for both hobbyists and health-conscious residents.
The government has also started to respond to the emergence of biking enthusiasts. For example, 2011 saw the first ever official bike lane in Jakarta, the 1.5km Ayodya Park to Blok M route. Then in late 2012, the governor of Jakarta unveiled a 6.7km bike path in the East Flood Canal, the longest bike path in the city. All over the city, bike lanes have been created in parks which can be enjoyed by the general public.
Although Jakarta already has bike lanes, another challenge faced by bicyclists is the lack of enforcement for motorcyclists who cut into lanes designated specifically for bicycles, like in the East Flood Canal area of East Jakarta. Motorcyclists erode on cyclists' rights, even though the Department of Transportation has protected these rights under Law No. 22 on the Road and Traffic since 2009. Biking activists have therefore launched a "Seize the Bike Lanes" campaign, which puts together hundreds of bicyclists to fill up the lanes so that motorcyclists are reluctant to use them. Movements like this are usually conducted as part of advocacy efforts to remind motorists to respect the rights of others on the road.
Photo: John Watson
Mumbai's children risk life and limb on their walk to school
Carlin Carr, Mumbai Community Manager
Mumbai's streets are a scary battleground. Rickshaws nudge ahead of beastly city buses; cows wander aimlessly through jams of oversized cars; and pedestrians push across busy intersections in droves, hoping the power in numbers will help them reach the other side safely. Everyone is vulnerable in this situation, but no one more than the thousands of school children who walk to school, often in the streets, in the absence of school buses and navigable sidewalks.
In a city starved of open spaces for play, walking to school is a potentially healthy activity. Moreover, studies have proven that this healthy bit of exercise en route to the classroom actually benefits students academically. Students have shown better concentration after walking or biking to school. In Mumbai, walking is risky, but many school children have no other choice.
An article in the Indian Express highlights the dangers faced by pedestrian children at home and abroad. "Accidents kill a million children annually. In India, this number is around 60,000. Several others suffer permanent injuries in road accidents," cites the article. Just ask the kids from a shelter for street children in a ritzy area of Mumbai. They have scars on their faces to prove the dangers on their walk to school. The busy road is nearly absent of sidewalks, and when there are strips, they are overtaken by knotted tree trunks, bus stops or small shops. In the monsoon, the situation is worse. Kids have been mowed down by speeding motorbikes and oncoming traffic.
Unlike their counterparts at Mumbai's private schools who are shuttled back and forth to school in personal vehicles, municipal school children have few options but to walk. The situation is not unique to Mumbai, nor to the developing world. In Ohio, in the United States, dangers en route to school can be drawn along socio-economic lines as well. "African-American children and those from lower-income families are far more likely to be hit by cars than white children in the suburbs ... and the reason is simple: The state has created inequality in transportation to school," says an article in The Atlantic Cities. "But to compound the problem, the state is counting on parents to subsidize their kids' safe travel by chauffeuring their children in a private vehicle. As for the urban children whose families are too poor to own cars or who can't drive them to school for other reasons? Well, they just have to take their chances on streets designed to move ever more vehicles ever faster, and where cities like Akron are removing traffic lights for the convenience of drivers." The situation in Akron is not too far off from Mumbai's increasingly car-focused transport initiatives.
Mumbai's Walking Project has been advocating for better sidewalks in the city; in addition, a new initiative, Safe Kids Foundation, works to prevent accidents to children in India. The Safe Kids Foundation teaches safe behaviors to pedestrian children and to motorists in the city through educational materials and hands-on activities. As part of the "Walk This Way" project that Safe Kids Foundation launched in Mumbai with support from FedEx, organizers and kids from local municipal schools painted an 80-foot-long school wall with creative messages illustrating proper road safety. Safe Kids Foundation is India's first organization dedicated to protecting youth from injury.
"Children in India are particularly vulnerable to injuries in traffic because almost all children walk as their primary means of transportation," said Mahendra Mehta, the Founder and Trustee of Safe Kids Foundation. "As the number of vehicles on the roads continues to increase, an increase in traffic-related fatalities is expected. But programs like Safe Kids Walk This Way can help protect our children, prevent injuries, and save lives."
The Safe Kids Foundation is a start, and certainly important for children to learn how to properly negotiate the streets. However, safe access to school should be a national priority. If proper sidewalks are not in place, then every school child should be safely shuttled to school on a bus. The walk to school should be a healthy activity, not a death-defying experience.
Putting pedestrians first
Olatawura Ladipo-Ajayi, Lagos Community Manager
In 2004, an estimated 5,000 lives were lost from road crashes on Nigerian motorways. This number more than tripled in 2006, with an estimated 16,000 people killed as a result of road crashes. Low awareness of road safety among road users (pedestrians and motorists), and poor road conditions are some critical factors responsible for these avoidable fatalities. The city of Lagos is crawling with millions of people, the majority of whom travel on foot. Recently, there has been more emphasis on keeping city pedestrians safe from harm's way by improving road safety rules and infrastructure.
Recently, the State Government has been building pedestrian bridges all over the city, replacing worn-out bridges and constructing bridges in new areas. For instance, the old ones at Ojota, Palmgrove, and Onipanu have all been rebuilt. Similarly, new ones have been built at Gbagada, Lekki Roundabout, Cement bus stop, Ijaiye bus stop, Iddo, Loco, Igbobi, Ile-Epo and Secretariat bus stops. The city of Lagos built footbridges for high-risk areas and expresses ways to safeguard pedestrians against accidents and to further encourage safe city walking.
In addition to refurbishing and providing more pedestrian bridges across highways in the city, focus is also being placed on sidewalks, to allow pedestrians to walk safely around the city, off of vehicle lanes. More and more sidewalks can be seen, especially near busy roadways, and sidewalks that were previously being used for other activities have been cleared out.
Great efforts have been put into road signs and zebra pedestrian crossings at heavy traffic areas of the city, such as the Ikeja metropolis. The Arrive Alive Road Safety Initiative is putting on awareness campaigns on road safety and pedestrian safety. The initiative is focused on sensitizing city residents about the importance of road safety, ranging from safety engineering and road improvement, to motorcycle safety and pedestrian safety campaigns. Campaigns targeted towards pedestrians advocate for the appropriate use of safety features such as the zebra crossing, the correction and installation of road signs, and effective navigation of roadways.
While the city is becoming a safer place to walk in, pedestrians are clamouring for the construction of more foot bridges. The request in itself shows that the state's efforts are successfully assuring residents of its ability to provide a safe walking environment in Lagos. Constructions are underway, and hopefully sooner than later the state will address areas of the city where pedestrians are requesting for pedestrian bridges, such as the Berger area. It is also hoped that more pedestrians will take advantage of the infrastructure already put in place to assure their safety.
Lanes and livelihoods: new cycling and pedestrian (NMT) infrastructure in Johannesburg
Tariq Toffa, Cape Town Community Manager
Travel in South Africa, and Southern Africa in general, is highly skewed by economic means. It is dominated by walking (often great distances on poor quality footpaths) and by public transport, primarily among the poor. In Johannesburg, the situation is exacerbated by the marginalisation created by historic spatial planning and the sprawling, low-density nature of the city. According to the City of Johannesburg's Department of Transport, urbanisation and urban poverty require not only urban transport solutions but also low-cost modes of travel such as cycling. This strategy, known as "Non-Motorised Transport" or NMT, over recent years has gradually become a priority area at National, Provincial and Local Government levels, resulting in the City of Johannesburg's Framework for NMT in 2009.
NMT, specifically cycling, is envisioned to support and integrate with other transport nodes, and projects such as the Bus Rapid Transit System and Gautrain stations, allowing individuals in outlying areas to cycle to the nearest public transport node. In practical terms, NMT strategies deal with pedestrian walkways and cycling routes, and their related streetscapes of lighting, paving, street furniture, landscaping, camera surveillance, and traffic calming measures. Following international precedents, Public Bicycle Systems will also be introduced, where the public can hire bicycles from one fixed-point station and return them at another.
The benefits of NMT include increased road safety and security, reduced travelling time and distance, and safer environments for the majority of learners who walk to and from educational institutions. Initial sites were identified as the highest priority based on NMT primary target areas, namely transport stations and improved access to them, particularly for marginalised areas. These sites are Soweto in the south (where two NMT projects have already been completed) (fig. 1), the inner city, and an Alexandra - Sandton - Linbro Park network in the north.
One of the challenges for NMT is that of transforming perceptions, as commuter cycling is not part of the general transportation culture of Johannesburg, and is either associated only with recreation or especially with poverty, or viewed as unpleasant or dangerous.
There are also other challenges and critiques of the NMT approach which are methodological, in its extending of the transport engineering approaches of city-scale transport projects down to the pedestrian and architectural scales of neighbourhoods, which it cannot meaningfully engage. The role assigned to the design and spatial-focused disciplines in the process to implementation level only is also highly prescriptive of this expertise. This all has implications particularly for the poor. Though the NMT Framework acknowledges that "it is likely that informal businesses will benefit from an increase in passing trade on foot and bicycle," besides employment directly related to NMT (construction, security, and bicycle repairs), no provision whatsoever on a policy level has been made toward catalysing local economic opportunity (fig. 2). Similarly, waste reclaimers ("trolley pushers") who collect and sell reclaimed materials with their recycling trolleys from all over the city, are another marginalised group identified by the NMT Framework, but whose livelihoods will be little transformed by it (fig. 3).
Overall, Johannesburg's NMT is a positive and much needed multi-modal initiative and the city will be the better for it. It is not without many lost opportunities, however, which illustrate the need for more multidisciplinary approaches earlier in the conceptual and policy-shaping stages of the process. Ultimately, the resulting omissions will be felt mostly by those who could have benefited from it the most.
Fig. 1: Cycling / pedestrian infrastructure around Thokoza Park BRT Station, Soweto — an NMT site. Fig. 2: Home-based businesses in Soweto. Fig. 3: "Trolley pushers." All photos by author.