Pilot plan to curb traffic gridlock

Cape Town is the 55th most congested city in the world, according to recent research. File picture: David Ritchie / Independent Media.
Motorists venturing into or town 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. 
The traffic officers, who will be deployed from 11am to 6pm from Mondays to Fridays, will keep the identified intersections clear of vehicles to ensure an easier flow of traffic when traffic lights change.
In an attempt to address heavy traffic congestion in the city centre, the City of Cape Town has partnered with the Central City Improvement District (CCID) to pilot a plan involving six traffic officers, funded by the CCID, at intersections during peak hours.
And in a first for Cape Town, the traffic officers will be provided with body-worn video units, which were introduced by the CCID last year, worn by company’stheir patrollers to record any incidents or traffic infringements.
JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, JP Smith, said the intersections include: Buitengracht Street  and Walter Sisulu Avenue; Buitengracht Street and Hans Strydom Avenue; Buitengracht Street 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.
TheCCID 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.
traffic congestion in the central city had become an issue.
“Blockages at many intersections at home time are commonplace. Driver behaviour has also become such that gridlock persists, blocking traffic 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 city centre’s traffic pilot  project comes at the same time as the city council adopted a draft travel demand management strategy for the whole of Cape Town, including the CBD. 
In a statement, Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said the strategy proposed practical solutions to ease traffic congestion on Cape Town’s road network. 
The management plan was out for public participation inwent out for public comment in October last year, during which the City asked interested parties to comment on the City’s proposals on how to change motorists’ travel behaviour.
“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.
 as some of the possible solutions to 
Some of the solutions the plan proposes 
“The strategy proposes practical solutions. For example, by implementing flexible working hours or remote working arrangements for employees, we will have fewer private vehicles on the arterial routes during the traditional peak-hour periods. 
“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: “Traffic patterns are extremely dynamic. This goes for cities around the globe and Cape Town is certainly not unique. Given the increase in vehicular traffic in the central business district, in particular, the City of Cape Town is continually reassessing what more can be done to ease congestion. 
“Blocking of intersections during peak hours is one such challenge and this initiative will look to address that challenge.”
One of the key issues identified by the City and the CCID and the City were blockages at intersections. Therefore, the traffic officers, who will be deployed from 11am to 6pm from Mondays to Fridays, will keep the identified intersections clear of vehicles to ensure an easier flow of traffic when traffic lights change. Mr Smith said they will also conduct general enforcement around the city, which includes policing any other infringements observed which may add to congestion.
The CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos said traffic congestion in the Central City has become an issue.
“Blockages at many intersections at home time are commonplace. Driver behaviour has also become such that gridlock persists, blocking traffic in both directions. Causing gridlock – by, for example, driving into an already jammed intersection, thereby preventing a cross flow – is actually a bylaw offence. It’s the job of the wardens to monitor and deter this. We believe the initiative, which complements the work of OUTsurance c 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.”
According to CCID safety and security manager Muneeb Hendricks, the pointsmen are needed as traffic – particularly outgoing at the end of the day – in the city centre has become a problem.
Mr Smith said that after the pilot has been completed at – 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”.
* 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 Email the Capetowner reporter tamlynne.thompson@inl.co.za