Opening up the streets in the ’Plain

KAYLYNN PALM

People from far and near, cycled, danced and curiously made their way along Merrydale Avenue in Portland, at the inaugural Open Streets event in Mitchell’s Plain on Sunday April 3.

The road was transformed into a hub of entertainment and recreational activitiy. The free event took place from 11am to 6pm, with the area between Westpoort Drive and Oxford Street closed to traffic (“Plain opens its streets,” Plainsman, February 24, “Playing in Open Streets,” Plainsman, March 16 and “Come and play,” Plainsman, March 30).

Children and adults participated in a range of activities including street soccer, cricket, snakes and ladders and chess, while others slipped on rollerskates, hopped on to their skateboards, scooters and bicycles.

The crowd was entertained by Mitchell’s Plain MCs, singers, B-Boy crews and people doing Capoeira.

Marcela Guerrero Casas, co-founder of Open Streets, said the Mitchell’s Plain Open Streets had been a success and that the community had been involved throughout the process.

“This event wouldn’t have been successful without residents, sponsors and the media. Mitchell’s Plain is a unique area with a fantastic vibe.

“We believe that Sunday was a testament to the potential of Open Streets in Mitchell’s Plain and other communities around Cape Town. We are currently working with the City of Cape Town to grow a programme that will ensure Open Streets days happen more regularly and with more ease. We invite everyone to join us in that process,” she said.

Christopher van der Vent from Portland said he liked the concept and felt it should be an annual event. “It is wonderful to see people from all over in one street, socialising and having fun. I looked forward to the event, and I am impressed. It is something different and the great part is that people enjoyed themselves,” he said.

Mark Louw from Westridge is a mime who has attended all the Open Streets events which have been held in the city.

“Mitchell’s Plain deserves to have an event like this. I was happy to hear that the event was coming to my own area. Even though it was for a few hours, we took back our streets,” he said.

Chairperson of Sub-council 12, Eddie Andrews, said the planning process began last year with a series of presentations to local sub-councils and, in the past two months, door-to-door campaigns and well-attended public meetings.

“So many people attended; it’s simply amazing. Children skating, playing games freely and residents interacting, this is how our area is supposed to be. We would like to thank Open Streets for their efforts and hope we can do this again,” he said.

Previous events include an Open Streets event Bree Street on January 17 this year and Open Streets in Langa and Bellville last year. Open Streets Mitchell’s Plain received financial and strategic support from Transport for Cape Town, the City’s transport authority.

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