Streetiquette performers take over Cape Town CBD to promote pedestrian safety

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.

This is according to figures provided by the Western Cape Government Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW), which has partnered with Open Streets Cape Town (OSCT) to test Streetiquette, a campaign to raise awareness about pedestrian safety.

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.

“Our Safely Home campaign has been bold and innovative in addressing road deaths effectively, devising initiatives, campaigns, and innovations targeted specifically at the various classes of fatalities and on errant road user behaviour. The campaign saw a 30% decrease between 2008 and 2013. Since then, however, our growing efforts have seen little change beyond our fatality levels remaining stable in the face of continued rapid expansion in human and vehicle populations. The need is now more pronounced than ever for continued innovation , in changing poor road user behaviour, through initiatives such as the Streetiquette campaign. Raising awareness amongst motorists and pedestrians (the leading class of fatalities in the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape, and South Africa), on how to use our roads properly and safely, will undoubtedly go a long way to addressing this very pressing issue. We are pleased to be partnering with Open Streets Cape Town, the City of Cape Town, and other road users in this innovative, artistic, and potentially life-saving campaign. We hope that increased awareness will spur a positive behaviour change in all road users, thereby saving thousands of lives that would otherwise have been lost senselessly on our roads,” said Minister of Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant.

November is Pedestrian Month on the Safely Home calendar, and OSCT and the DTPW have decided to use this month to test Streetiquette in the Cape Town CBD. The “experiment” will use different approaches to find the type of language and format that can serve as the basis for a long-term campaign that can be taken to other parts of Cape Town and the province.

Says Marcela Guerrero Casas, co-founder and managing director of OSCT: “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. 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.”

“Transport for Cape Town, the City’s transport authority, is currently installing bump-outs at the intersections in the CBD to enable pedestrians to safely cross the road. These bump-outs are literally an extension or widening of the existing sidewalks, providing pedestrians with much improved sight of oncoming traffic, while at the same time providing motorists a better view of pedestrians waiting to cross the road. The dipped kerbs will be less steep once the upgrading is completed, making it easier for wheelchair users to get on and off the sidewalk,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.

Starting Monday 23 November and ending Friday 27 November, five different theatrical interventions will take place at five busy CBD intersections. The theatrics will be directed by Mandisi Sindo – the artistic director of Theatre4Change Therapeutic Theatre who has experience plying his trade on the streets during Infecting the City – and Jason Potgieter – performer, theatre-maker and educator running Instant Arts Collective. There will be a series of surprise characters will 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. Additionally, a “finale” will take place during First Thursdays on 3 December at the intersection of Bree and Wale streets.

Says Marcela: “We are anticipating an atmosphere of fun next week and hope Streetiquette will start an important conversation that everyone becomes a part of.”

To get involved in the action on social media, tune into the hashtags #WalkSafe, #SafeRoadsForAll and #Streetiquette and keep an eye on @OpenStreetsCT and @WCGSafelyHome

The full time table is as follows:

Day Date Time Location
Monday 23 Nov 07h00-09h00 Darling & Buitenkant streets
Monday 23 Nov 14h00-16h00 Darling & Buitenkant streets
Monday 23 Nov 16h00-18h00 Darling & Plein streets
Tuesday 24 Nov 07h00-09h00 Darling & Plein streets
Tuesday 24 Nov 12h00-14h00 Wale & Long streets
Tuesday 24 Nov 16h00-18h00 Wale & Long streets
Wednesday 25 Nov 07h00-09h00 Plein Street (Pedestrian crossing)
Wednesday 25 Nov 12h00-14h00 Plein St (Pedestrian crossing)
Thursday 26 Nov 07h00-09h00 Adderley & Bureau streets
Thursday 26 Nov 12h00-14h00 Adderley & Bureau streets
Thursday 26 Nov 16h00-18h00 Buitengracht St & Walter Sisulu Ave
Friday 27 Nov 07h00-09h00 The best two performances will be repeated at their original location
Friday 27 Nov 12h00-14h00 The best two performances will be repeated at their original location
Friday 27 Nov 16h00-18h00 The best two performances will be repeated at their original location
Thursday 03 Dec 16h00-18h00 Bree & Wale streets

About Open Streets Cape Town

Open Streets is a worldwide movement of citizens who are reclaiming their streets as public space. Open Streets Cape Town (OSCT) is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2012 by a group of volunteers committed to a more equitable, integrated, safer and vibrant city. OSCT seeks to build shared places that embody respect for all and help bridge the social and spatial divides of Cape Town. OSCT works in partnership with the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government.

Streetiquette Street Performers

Streetiquette is inspired by a Latin America concept. In Caracas, Venezuela, for example, mimes are the most common street performers seen interacting with the public to tackle unsafe and irresponsible behaviour on urban streets.