Roads need a rethink to ease congestion

Agi Orfanos, West Beach

Traffic on the R27 is unacceptable. We spend over 35 days a year in standstill traffic – it’s ludicrous! It’s not constructive and causes pollution as fuel is burnt aimlessly.

Bus services should complement not compromise private transport. MyCiTi has compromised the R27.

All major intersections should have slip-turning lanes such as Racecourse. They should exist at Dolphin Beach, Blaauwberg Road, Loxton, Lagoon Beach, etc. And as the R27 is much wider than Sandown Road, there is room to paint (reconfigure) three straight lanes at certain bottleneck traffic lights.

The greater area continues to grow, and the City is aware of this unprecedented growth.

Finally, the R27/N1 bridge needs to be expanded or rebuilt. It’s hopelessly inadequate and antiquated. Designed well over half a century ago, it cannot possibly cope with today’s conditions.

The City needs to contact all relevant authorities urgently to reconfigure their major link from the west coast to the City.

• Mayoral committee member for urban mobility Rob Quintas, responds:

The City of Cape Town plans ahead to manage population growth. This is important in terms of traffic congestion but, more importantly, the provision of public-transport services is key in alleviating traffic congestion because the fewer people rely on private vehicles to get to their destinations, the better.

Congestion along the major freeways in Cape Town is driven by several factors:

• The spatial form of Cape Town is characterised by a small CBD bounded by Table Mountain National Park and the Atlantic Ocean, thus, there is limited land for development.

• Continued business development in the CBD characterised by significant increases in office space, job opportunities, economic activity and parking provision,

• Continued expansion of affluent, low-density residential areas on the outskirts of Cape Town where people predominantly opt to travel from by car.

• The deterioration of the rail system.

The growth in travel demand between the greater Table View area and the Cape Town CBD, coupled with the preference for private-car usage, has significantly increased the traffic loading on the R27, which has extended the peak traffic period and travel times.

The R27 transport corridor is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean, the Diep River Reserve, the Rietvlei Wetland Reserve and development concentrated mostly along the eastern edge, hence the opportunity to widen roads to accommodate more traffic is limited.

Blindly responding to traffic congestion by repeatedly widening roads that ultimately only attract more vehicles is not sustainable. The best long-term solution is for commuters to make use of public transport, and for authorities to provide or ensure there is a wide range of reliable public transport options available to commuters to choose from. The MyCiTi service is one of these offerings provided by the City of Cape Town.

The implementation of the MyCiTi IRT Phase 1A public transport system responded to the growth in travel demand by retrofitting busways along the R27. Depending on operational characteristics, the theoretical capacity of a dedicated bus lane ranges from about 4000 to 8000 passengers per hour, whereas the capacity of a private motor vehicle lane ranges from about 600 to 1600 passengers per hour. Clearly, the bus service is much more optimal.

Although it may appear as if the MyCiTi service has compromised private transport, the City’s decision to allocate median road space in favour of dedicated bus lanes was informed by the fact that they outperform mixed traffic lanes by a factor of five (in terms of passenger-carrying capacity).

Although the City acknowledges the need to upgrade key bottlenecks in the road network, it also recognises growing travel demands can only be addressed by an integrated approach to transport land-use planning, by encouraging business nodes outside of the CBD, the use of public transport, remote working, walking and cycling where possible, and implementing parking-demand management strategies and flexible working programmes.