Pilot plan to curb traffic gridlock

A plan is being put in place to address traffic congestion.

Motorists caught in frequent gridlock in the traffic-choked heart of Cape Town now have reason to hope for a smoother ride home to the suburbs.

One of the main causes of congestion is buses and cars that move into already jammed intersections, blocking them for motorists who have a green light.

The City of Cape Town and the Central City Improvement District (CCID) are now piloting a plan to tackle this problem.

Six traffic officers will be posted at key intersections from 11am to 6pm, from Mondays to Fridays, to keep traffic flowing. And they will be equipped with body-worn video cameras to record traffic infringements – that includes blocking intersections.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, said the intersections include: Buitengracht and Walter Sisulu Avenue; Buitengracht and Hans Strydom Avenue; Buitengracht and Somerset Road; Strand and Adderley streets; Strand and Bree streets; Fountain Circle and Hans Strydom Avenue; Long and Buitensingel streets; and Walter Sisulu Avenue and FW De Klerk Street.

CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos said blockages at intersections during the home-time rush had become “commonplace”; driver behaviour was causing persistent gridlock with traffic choked in both directions.

“Causing gridlock by, for example, driving into an already jammed intersection, thereby preventing a cross flow, is actually a by-law offence.

“It’s the job of the wardens to monitor and deter this. We believe the initiative, which complements the work of OUTsurance-sponsored pointsmen as well as V&A Waterfront-funded officers at the Buitengracht and Walter Sisulu Avenue intersection, will go a long way to alleviating congestion and modifying driver behaviour.”

The project comes at the same time as the city council adopted a draft travel demand management strategy for the whole of Cape Town.

In a statement, Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said the strategy proposed practical solutions to ease traffic congestion.

The plan went out for public comment in October last year.

“The only way out of constant gridlock is by changing our travel patterns and our over-reliance on private vehicles,” Mr Herron said.

Using flexible working hours and remote working arrangements to reduce the numbers of vehicles on arterial routes at peak times is one of the plan’s proposals.

“The City will lead by example,” Mr Herron said “ As a large employer, we expect our implementation of this strategy to lead the way and in the next few months, some officials will be allowed to work remotely from satellite offices for a number of days or hours a week, to begin and end working at non-standard times within limits set by management, or to work from home during the peak and then travel to work during the off-peak period.

“I will also share these proposals with our counterparts at the Western Cape government, which employs a large number of officials who travel to the Cape Town CBD every day.”

While the travel demand management strategy is a long-term plan, the CCID and City pilot project is set to begin this month.

Mr Smith said that after the pilot – which runs until the end of June – “we will review our efforts and assess the project in conjunction with the City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority”.

BLOB: If you’re a commuter who gets stuck in traffic leaving the city centre every day, we would like to hear how it affects you. Send your comments or suggestions to tamlynne.thompson@inl.co.za