//Rendering the Rat Run Unrunable

Rendering the Rat Run Unrunable

UPDATE: NOTE that input must be submitted via UWRA or directly by end of November!

The main arterial roads out of the City are jam-packed at rush hour. The billions spent on the N1 and N2/M3 upgrades have seen little or no change in the daily bumper-to-bumper rivers of cars trying to flee the City after work. Upper and Lower Main Roads (oh, ok, Albert and Victoria) are two lanes wide, but barely passable with double-parked cars and stopped taxis and people driving like brainless cows.

So what’s new? Well, the increasing hordes rat-running through Woodstock, Walmer Estate and University Estate to get around the sclerotic arterials. City of Cape Town’s Roads Department is looking to do something about it after years of increasingly strident complaints from residents and civic bodies. Ward Councillor Brett Herron organised a public meeting at the Civic Centre to allow the Roads Dept to explain the results of their study, and what they proposed to do about it on Tues 8th Nov.

There are four main routes for rat-running: all start at the Chester Road entrance at the edge of District Six, and variously run along Upper Cambridge Rd, along Chester and into Coronation, exiting either to the M3 via Upper Roodebloem or onto the N2 at the Holiday Inn, or via Roodebloem onto the N2; or the extremely twisty Searle-Warwick-Hay-Mountain Road run. There are other routes, but these are the biggies in terms of clear rat-runners (rather than local residents returning home).

Turning Nerina into a one-way has helped a lot to reduce speeding and rat-running past the school and clinic, but there are still many vehicles that ignore the one-way and take a chance.

The stunningly lacklustre performance of Traffic Services (aka “the traffic police”) is not helping – under-resourced, under-managed and under-whelming, Cape Town’s law enforcement on the roads is spotty at best, so any solution needs to assume visible policing will not be central.

Possible Solutions

Sean Glass of the Transport Department (don’t forget Cllr Herron is Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Roads & Stormwater, so this may explain some action happening here at last) gave a presentation, with two main options:

  • Option 1: A boom across Chester Road from Keizersgracht between 16h00 and 18h00 – this would require a boom be built, and manned every day. This would prohibit any vehicles except emergency vehicles and government ministers late for sunset drinkies entering Woodstock during peak hours. Not great if you’re a Woodstock/WE/UE resident, and requires substantial cap-ex and op-ex spend.
  • Option 2:Regulatory signage – essentially a no-entry sign at the Chester Road entrance for 16h-18h00 – this is cheaper, but requires regular law enforcement at a very busy intersection. Also a major inconvenience for locals coming home.
  • Option 3: Regulatory signage ‘inside’ the suburb to allow freer movement for locals, but makes rat-running difficult. No-entry signs 16h-1800 would be placed on Upper Melbourne Road prohibiting entry into Coronation, Chester and Eden Roads, and on Upper Mountain stopping passing through Rhodes Ave. A further no-entry 16h-18h00 would be placed where Queens Road enters Hat Street. A ‘no right turn 16h-18h00 would be placed at the bottom of Upper Mountain to stop access to Roodebloem Rd onramps to the N2.

What do you think? Council wants to get feedback by latest end-November, so Email word@woodstock.org.za or visit the WoodstockZa Facebook page (please don’t paste into the Group, it needs to be shut down and everything moved to the Page).

With regard to other hot-spots for residents, especially those with speedster probelms, Upper Cambridge Road has had traffic calming measures (essentially speed bumps) approved and is now waiting funding (which may take six months or more). Other roads (Mountain, Roberts, etc) are being considered for more traffic calming.

In terms of enforcement, Cllr Herron acknowledged the terrible state of Traffic Services generally in Cape Town, and said it is being addressed (although no specifics forthcoming). What will help is that two neighbourhood Safety Officers per Ward are being put in place. This sounds good, although Ward 57 is most of the City Bowl suburbs, so a massive, densely populated area. These two should start work in the next few months once training is done. Metro Police have also motivated that reservists be authorised to issue tickets in their areas for illegal parking, etc. This could make a big difference to easing congestion and tempers.

So – look at the proposals, give it a think, give your feedback. To see the proposed rat-traps in Option 3, check here (click for full-size version).