Looking to beat traffic nightmare

While some southern suburbs residents praised the City of Cape Town for trying to ease gridlock in the city, following last week’s story in the Tatler, many said the problem wasn’t just in the CBD.

Through a partnership between the City of Cape Town and the Central City Improvement District (CCID), six traffic officers were deployed to key intersections around the city centre, from 11am to 6pm, from Monday to Friday, to keep traffic flowing. Each of them will wear body-mounted video cameras to record any traffic violations (“Pilot plan to curb traffic gridlock,” Tatler April 6).

However, people seem to be having similar problems in the suburbs.

Shahieda McDavids has been travelling along Jan Smuts Road, coming from Lansdowne, for the past nine years.

“We experience the same at the Klipfontein and Jan Smuts intersection. I sometimes wish that a traffic official or two who lives in and around the area would just take the initiative and make themselves visible for in the morning between 6.30am and 8.30am at the intersection.

“People heading toward Pinelands have to put up with motorists who turn right even though the green flashing arrow has stopped – this happens while going towards the M5, and other motorists are coming off the N2.

“This is frustraing for us who have a green light to cross. I sometimes sit in my vehicle watching the traffic light turn red about five times before I get to cross over- and this is on a clear day. On a rainy day it’s 10 times worse.”

John Davidson said the biggest problem was at the complex junction of Park Road, Campground Road and Liesbeek Parkway.

“Between 7am and 8am, on any school day, there is a good chance of gridlock. There is sometimes a similar situation in the north-east corner of the common when traffic on Klipfontein Road backs up due to a problem closer to the city centre across Milner Road and blocks it.”

Robert Thompson said travelling along Belvedere Road and Milner Road in Rondebosch the road becomes one lane from two just after the Sandown Road intersection, and splits again just before Park Road by Rondebosch Common.

“There is a wide verge on each side of the road where a double lane could be in both directions and still allow a pavement on either side. This is especially busy during school terms with so many schools in the area. I have to turn off at Norton Way to get to work and sometimes walk to work from 1st Avenue in Kenilworth or take a short cut on the rat run in almost a straight line, but I feel motorists would benefit from a natural upgrade.”

Frank Smit said Klipfontein Road was “a nightmare” to cross in the mornings.

“Motorists travelling towards Ron-debosch continually block the crossroads like Jan Smuts. The buses from Golden Arrow are also guilty of blocking the whole of the intersection on the corner of Imam Haron and Palmyra roads.”

Mr Smit believes a lack of policing allows the public to ignore traffic laws with impunity.

“It has become the norm that almost every light change sees vehicles going through on red. When they do this in rush hour, it causes gridlock.”

Faulty traffic light timing added to motorists woes. He said it would be unrealistic for the City to try to post traffic wardens at each intersection. Instead driver behaviour needed to change, and that could happen if the traffic authorities used a small number of roving units to police “all types of traffic intersection infringement” and issue fines immediately. “The public need to learn that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated and they will soon stop.”

Gabiba Taliep said MyCiTi buses had contributed to the growing congestion.

“There is simply no space for another bus service. Even in areas like Milnerton with dedicated bus lanes, the service is ineffective. In single lane suburbs when a MyCiTi bus stops, traffic behind the bus creates a tailback. Drivers get frustrated, which contributes to road rage. Moreover, the buses themselves get caught in gridlock which defeats the purpose of using the service.

“In Roodebloem Road, Woodstock, two bus stops are built opposite each other (in single carriageways) at a T-junction. This obstructs both lanes of traffic and makes it impossible for a vehicle exiting Lawley Road, to see oncoming traffic in either direction. It’s a death trap.”

She said bicycle lanes had also caused gridlock. “We do not need bicycle lanes. They are nice accessories but what they are actually doing is making us the most congested city in South Africa. And why do those green lanes have to be repainted every few months? Instead of wasting ratepayers’ money on bicycle lanes used by two cyclists every day, why are they not using it to calm traffic?”

Bronwen Dyke-Beyer, Golden Arrow spokeswoman, said bus drivers were trained not to purposefully block intersections, to obey traffic regulations and to show courtesy to other road users.

“Everyday challenges that our drivers contend with include taxis and other vehicles stopping in or just after intersections to load or offload passengers and cars parking in demarcated bus stop areas. These unfortunately result in buses coming to a stop in inconvenient places and causing frustration for other road users.”

Ms Dyke-Beyer admitted that sometimes their drivers were also at fault. “Our approach is to use our mobile inspectorate to monitor various problem areas on a regular basis and to work closely with traffic services to ensure that issues are dealt with speedily and that our drivers are driving as they should.”

She said the public could email complaints@gabs.co.za with the details of any transgressions, with the bus number, time and location.

The City of Cape Town did not respond to our readers’ comments by the time this edition went to print.