Improve traffic in Camps Bay

Christopher Grinton, Hout Bay

For many years now, I have thought that Camps Bay beachfront area is in a steady state of slow decline, notwithstanding some of the initiatives of continuous improvement a paradox, indeed.

I commute twice daily through Camps Bay, stopping for coffees in the morning, and eating at a Camps Bay restaurant two or three times a week on the way home.

The sidewalk vendors, selling curios and ice creams are a definite plus for the vibe, especially as far as tourists are concerned. However, the vendors cars – six on average measured on four consecutive days – are parked alongside the vendors’ display area, blocking off a potential parking bay for 12 plus hours every day.

The cars are no doubt used to transport the wares to/from the sidewalk area, but why not then enforce the parking of cars behind the sports fields, and they can then return to load the stock later?

On another tack, I have a suggestion for traffic flow improvement, and for a minor change to MyCiTi bus stop locations.

In the past 10 years or so, I have noticed an exponential hindrance in traffic flow; originally in the “high peak” summer months, but now it seems way more year-around.

The MyCiTi buses do an excellent job, yet there are incremental improvements they could make to minimise traffic hindrance.

I am an unabashed fan of the MyCiTi bus service; I have blogged “live” from a bus for a group of cyclists and motorbikes, following the launch of MyCiTi, have commuted to/from work with it on 30 or 40 occasions, have transported a bicycle – by necessity – on the bus outside of peak hours (brilliant), and think very highly of the service indeed. Well done Cape Town – a real asset to the City of Cape Town.

There are, however, some minor improvements which could, in my opinion, make a major difference to the smooth running of the service. MyCiTi opted for the “in-traffic” stop method, whereby the bus does not pull off the road, but stops in the traffic flow, loads/unloads passengers, and then continues on its way. This method prevents the buses having to re-enter traffic flow, and thus be held hostage by impatient car drivers not letting the bus back in.

The problem it causes is that another MyCiTi bus is being forced over the double white line in order to pass another bus.

The sheer number of buses waiting to collect passengers (enforced waiting for scheduling purposes) puts a lot of load of the traffic infrastructure, and significantly adds to congestion. Buses with a 5 to 10 minute wait at a stop – say Camps Bay – will idle for those 5 to 10 minutes, doors open; even in cooler, winter conditions. Could the bus engine not be switched off to mitigate unnecessary pollution? This is my experience while onboard the bus, not as an observer.

Again, in Camps Bay, they have situated a bus stop (Glen Beach) on a narrow, curving part of Victoria Road, when just 10 metres earlier, sufficient space exists for the bus stop – this would enable cars to still pass the bus when it “pulls in”, but is way safer than the existing situation of a bus stop on curved road after a 1km straight.

The bus stop at Bakoven outbound from Cape Town, is again, situated on a fairly dangerous bend and, paradoxically, there is a bus stop/turning area immediately behind this bus stop; I would seriously recommend MyCiTi to re-examine using the same bus top, but facing east instead of west, in other words, using an existing, safe, out-of-the- traffic bus stop, to enable the free flow of traffic. Motorists will allow the MyCiTi bus back into the flow of traffic – that is how much goodwill exists for this service.

I’m keen to hear MyCiTi’s management views on this; hopefully a thorough analysis, rather than “we thought of that, but it won’t work ”

Like Venice Beach and others, Camps Bay is becoming such a must-see destination, but it’s like the road along the beach – Victoria Drive – cannot cope.

I do think it would be worth doing a feasibility study of having an underpass (tunnel), allowing the following:

Emergency vehicles, pedestrians, would all have unfettered access across a paved-over surface where the existing road is situated.

One-way traffic would pass underneath this road – a massive undertaking, for sure, but nothing like on the scale of say Boston, Massachusetts.

It could be beneficial to have the opposing traffic routed behind Main Road, on existing infrastructure.

Just envision the entire existing road along the beach-front being pedestrianised, with people strolling about, and the restaurants/ hotels no longer separated from the beachfront by a never-ending stream of traffic.

Delivery vehicles would still have access. All other non-emergency vehicles would go underground. And Camps Bay would lose its worsening traffic congestion.