Mobility in Stellenbosch

9 November 2020

It is Transport Month and for one week, the Municipality has created space for pedestrians and cyclists. In October, during mobility week, the Municipality gave preference  to non-motorised transport in Church and Andringa streets, and restaurants are open onto the street.

Read two pieces here, one about plans for mobility and transport in Stellenbosch, the other an informal discussion that gives valuable insight into how people feel and what they think about the roads.

1. Mobility in Stellenbosch

Lynne Pretorius, a transport engineer and consultant for the Municipality presented her ideas at the most recent Mobility Forum. The Stellenbosch Municipality’s presentation is embedded in an integrated approach that includes the Spatial Development Framework and Integrated Transport plan.

Proposed Cycling Plan: Stellenbosch

The underlying vision is:

Stellenbosch Municipality will strive to develop walkable and cycle-able environments that are safe for all to use and contribute to the mobility needs, economic vibrancy and social health of communities.

The strategic objectives are to:

  • Connect the outlying communities with the CBD in a safe and attractive manner and improve safety, access to opportunities and the dignity of these communities.
  • Achieve a modal shift in the Stellenbosch CBD towards public transport, walkability and cycle ability.
  • Create dignified public spaces in previously disadvantaged areas.

Click here to view her full presentation.

2. Young Urbanists on parking in Stellenbosch

A group, Young Urbanists, recently had an interesting Whatsapp discussion on solutions for parking issues in Stellenbosch. With their consent, this conversation is published here:

Shentin Elson posted:
So, Stellenbosch has a parking issue. A big parking issue. A lot of people commute to Stellenbosch (for work or university) from either the far flung suburbs or from nearby towns and there isn’t enough parking and businesses etc complain because people park outside their businesses for the whole day and walk off to wherever they are going and then someone who wants to visit the business can’t park outside.

Why is Stellenbosch, which is such a perfect small walkable town, not building a large parking area that is centrally located and then turning the town centre into a walkable pedestrianised (or at least shared) zone? Would this not be good urbanism for the town?

The issue is the only parking in the town centre is either at Eikestad Mall (which is very expensive) or parking on the side of the street (which means hiring attendants to give pay-and-display tickets).
Is there a reason why Stellenbosch can’t/won’t pedestrianise the town centre and make a central parking area?

Janine Loubser wrote:
This is a good question, Shentin Elson! There are stacks of policies and proposals for pedestrianising the town centre, implementing a bike strategy, encouraging people to cycle and walk (its the ideal town for this – small and flat) etc. but very little realisation. Part of the SDF proposals that we worked on last year made a strong statement about decentralised parking areas and creating shuttle services etc. There seems to be a lack of political will based on the old school argument that businesses in the centre will suffer from lack of parking (which has been proven over and over again as quite the opposite). You can register to join the Stellenbosch
Mobility Forum – a big meeting happening every 2 months or so where these ideas are discussed. DM me if you want more info.

Shentin Elson wrote:
Very much interested as I live out this way and as you said Stellenbosch is the perfect case study as it is a small town with most of the shops in super close proximity and the town is flat (and shaded by trees). Traffic is horrendous in the town centre and I don’t see why the area from Dorp Str to Merriman Ave can’t be pedestrianised. If I had my way I would pedestrianise the whole zone and people could park on the town periphery.
I also feel like there should be a point to point bus from both CT City Centre AND Somerset West Centre, but that’s another story.

Sean Dayton wrote:

Electric scooters for rent in Stellenbosch, briefly

I’ve also always wondered why Stellies hasn’t introduced different simple transit alternatives which could fit so well with a park and ride – for example, bicycle or scooter rental (where the commuter drives), rikshas (where someone else drives you) or a very simple minibus network.

Shentin Elson wrote:

The university has the Maties fiets and a minibus that takes students from the car parks (such as Coetzenburg) to campus (and late at night to any residence within 6km of the university) but the town would be a perfect case study for a big car park on the periphery and then as you said bike or scooter hire with streets in the CBD and University area converted into a dutch-style Cycle-centric society. It would probably not be popular at first but would be perfect for the town in the long run.

Sean Dayton wrote:
Shentin Elson and Janine Loubser, I’ve taken these bike rikshas before and they work beautifully for flat places, they’re way cheaper than busses and easier to maintain than scooters with engines. Also good potential for employment creation?

Janine Loubser wrote:
Perhaps we can arrange a Young Urbanists talk with some of the stakeholders in Stellenbosch to talk this through…will be important to understand why it is not happening and what we can learn from it.

Shentin Elson wrote:
If this is possible I would definitely be interested in helping to present some ideas that I have seen implemented from my travels to cities with far better transport and urbanism (Hong Kong, Moscow and Amsterdam come to mind).
With a bit more refinement, you can pedestrianise a large amount of central Stellenbosch while still keeping major thoroughfairs open to traffic to prevent as much “issue” to residential housing as possible while maximising the area that can be used for the pedestrianised town centre to include the CBD and central university area. This also still allows the Mall and the University to receive deliveries / have small parking spaces available for staff etc while pedestrianising as much as realistic. It should be a way of life for central Stellenbosch too! They can close all these streets down during Woordfees for 1.5 months – why not just make it permanent tbh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roland Postma wrote:
You don’t need public transportation (in the old town). just cycling and walkable infrastructure. Stellies is small and flat. Maybe feeder private busses to other areas outside of the old town grid?
Well, look, we need to phase out car-parking and cars. You cannot have both a “walkable area” of “good urbanism” and a centric car culture. One or the other. I am not voting for the latter. maybe on the outskirts? You need to get the cars out of the grid. Is there political will from the DA controlled council?

Muhammed Lokhat wrote:
I did some reading on this idea of yours, here’s what I found. You could look at the neighbourhood of Vauban in Freiburg, Germany for a concrete example of a place where they decoupled parking from housing and also placed the parking garages in a strategic location on the edge near the major road where people were going to drive to anyway. So much of the residential areas themselves are car-free. Here’s a link: https://stadtteil-vauban.de/en/traffic/
In some Dutch city centres they are trying to move street parking permits to city-owned underused garages. This does get accepted because in the city centre they don’t use their cars that often and the garage is more secure.
Does Stellies really need a parking garage? Or can existing parking be utilized more efficiently? The return of metered parking would be brilliant: Donald Shoup tackles this problem in his book “The High Cost of Free Parking!” which I’m sure everyone has read. He talks about how free street parking leads people to park for a long time and occupy spaces otherwise needed for customers. As he puts it, metered street parking would shorten the length of time that people stay parked and increase turnover, thereby increasing customers & sales. My concern is that this parking garage would be built in the middle of Stellies, would demolish many heritage buildings to get built, and after a few years we’d be back to square one: cars clogging the streets again. After all, car-infrastructure induces more driving.

Sean Dayton wrote:
Vauban is an awesome example! As with most park and ride facilities, the parking garage must be on the periphery otherwise people getting in and out of the parking will simply worsen the congestion in the town itself. From the garage on the periphery public transport takes people to where they need to go. Also, metered parking is completely necessary to stop day parkers clogging up the streets but it doesn’t solve the problem of where those day parkers park – this is why day parkers need the option of a park and ride garage or some other mass parking option, but yeah like we both agree – must be outside town and must be connected with some service that connects to final destination.

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