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What is the EcoMobility World Festival?

Can you imagine what and how a car-free neighborhood and a car-free life would look and feel like?

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What is the EcoMobility World Festival?

Can you imagine what and how a car-free neighborhood and a car-free life would look and feel like?

Most mayors, city councilors and urban planners can’t. Many can only visualize what they already know. How can we open their minds to the future? By creating a tangible scenario of it.

So, imagine the residents of a neighborhood in a large city acting out the future: real citizens, real city, real time.

Now you have some idea of what the EcoMobility World Festival 2015 offers: a real-life example of an ecomobile neighborhood, which provides a model approach to be locally adapted and replicated in cities worldwide!

Why Johannesburg?

With a population of over 4 million, the City of Johannesburg is the largest city in South and southern Africa.

The metropolis has begun improving its public transport services and infrastructure with by introducing improvements like the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system. Furthermore, the city is determined to increase access to public transport and develop an integrated transport system, by providing safe walking and cycling facilities.

However, introducing more public transport or cycling lanes doesn’t necessarily mean that people will stop using their cars and walk or cycle instead.

The challenge therefore lies in initiating behavioral change in citizens so that they will voluntarily leave their personal vehicles at home and embrace EcoMobility. To encourage such behavior change, citizens first need to experience how such a car-free environment could feel and work.

By changing road spaces for a month to facilitate walking, cycling and public modes of transport, the Festival will enable Johannesburg residents and visitors from around the world to experience and debate different travel options. Citizens, businesses and city officials will all be part of the unique transformation of Joburg into a people- and eco-friendly city.

Objectives of the EcoMobility World Festival

The main objectives of the Festival are as follows:

• Enable behavioral change to show that walking, cycling and using public transport is feasible, attractive and has positive benefits for users and the environment.

• Demonstrate the future of mobility, in particular the public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure that will be introduced to the Sandton CBD, Alexandra and surrounding areas between now and 2017.

• Make Joburg a cycling-friendly city – through profiling dedicated cycling lanes and hosting events such as the Freedom Ride to encourage cycling.

• Highlight the imperative for climate change and the role that EcoMobility and citizens play in securing a livable city for future generations.

• Showcase Johannesburg’s initiatives to promote EcoMobility and reduce emissions, including clean public transport.

What will happen at the EcoMobility World Festival?

From 1 to 31 October 2015, certain streets in Sandton – the City of Johannesburg’s second CBD – will be completely closed off to private vehicles.

The main purpose of this closure is to encourage citizens and visitors to be ecomobile – in other words, to use public transport, walk or cycle wherever they need to go.

The following activities will also be taking place during the Festival:

• Ways to be car-free and ecomobile: An exhibition where South African and international visitors experience innovative mobility options from around the globe.

• Dialogues: A week of discussions among experts, city officials, policy makers and other stakeholders on the future of mobility in our cities. The inputs from these discussions will paint a larger picture of global discussion on EcoMobility.

• Turning Sandton inside-out: Cycle rides, fun runs, pop-up parks and restaurants, music and food festivals along the closed-off streets.

• Leaving a legacy: In addition to the Rea Vaya infrastructure for walking, cycling and public transport, we are hoping – through partnerships – to donate a significant number of bikes to learners in surrounding communities.

Johannesburg looks forward to welcoming to Johannesburg this October and introducing you to beautiful Sandton in an ecomobile and eco-friendly environment!

And remember, in South Africa, October marks the transition from spring to summer, which you can look forward to blue skies and sunshiny days, perfect for walking, cycling and public transport

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