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Wednesday Oct 23, 2013

Pavement culture under threat in Joburg

Joburgers should be sitting outdoors, enjoying the city's pavement cafes and restaurants.

The city has good weather all year around and residents should be encouraged to take advantage of it.

They should not be paying for parking spots, and pavement tables and chairs should not be removed by the metro police.

Nico Hinis, co-owner of the popular Espresso Caffe & Bistro on 4th Avenue in Parkhurst.

Joburg mayor Parks Tau said the paid parking project being rolled out in suburban central business nodes was being rethought, in a surprise announcement at the launch of the Johannesburg Roads Agency's R2 billion project to rehabilitate about 435km of city roads.

It was a positive note following huge anger and frustration by both businesses and residents of Parkhurst - the first Joburg suburb to be hit with forced paid parking.

The initiative was planned to hit another 18 suburbs.

'We need to rethink this matter through properly. At the end of this month, we will go to seven areas to discuss a report we have drawn up with residents. We want Joburg residents to enjoy our pavements on main streets. We have the second best climate in the world, with lovely nights almost all year around, and we don't want the public to be restricted by parking and JMPD raids,' he said.

Paid parking was started in the Joburg CBD and Braamfontein, where some businesses claimed they were forced to move out because customers were refusing to pay for parking at R8 an hour. When it was introduced to Parkhurst, there was widespread anger from residents and businesses alike. It was then proposed in another 18 areas and opponents said it would destroy suburban CBDs.

The system involves wardens collecting cash upfront, before allowing motorists to park.

Tau said this new thinking was part of the city's initiative to create 'complete streets' in the suburbs which are 'safe, comfortable and accessible to all modes of transport including buses, cyclists, taxis and pedestrians, with a strong emphasis on safety and liveable communities. Our roads are community assets... Amongst our new programmes are better, pedestrianised pavements and proper cycling links to Rea Vaya stations, business, entertainment and shopping nodes'.

The 'complete streets' idea will be included in all future street designs and will be integrated into infrastructure planning, he said.

Councillor Tim Truluck, who has been co-ordinating and assisting all affected areas with their opposition to paid parking, welcomed the announcement.

'It's about time he realised that no one - not even the JMPD - wants this paid parking. We are looking forward to meeting the mayor and his officials to discuss a way forward on how to maximise our unique high streets such as 4th Avenue, Parkhurst, where we have an organic mix of restaurants, shops and businesses.

'We need a holistic approach,' he said.

The Star


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