Those of us driving around Makana in the past few days will have noticed that although there are quite a few cars around, the traffic is still light and quite easily negotiated.
However, people who were around between Christmas and New Year might have felt that they were driving around in a ghost town – it was creepy. There were no cars on the road and the air was wonderfully clean.
This was, of course, because a lot of businesses closed for the festive week, and many local drivers had decided to spend the week driving around the Albany coastline. We all know that in the next few weeks there will be a substantial surge in traffic density, as thousands of students arrive in town – many of them in their own cars.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with students driving around in cars, but sometimes it appears that they over-use their vehicles – because they can.
We have heard about students who will drive 300 metres from their residence to the lecture theatre, rather than walk. This often results in congestion on campus roads and overflowing parking lots. The situation on city thoroughfares such as Somerset, New and High streets is usually not much better, as the students visit restaurants and pubs in that area.
As both Rhodes University and the Makana Municipality have on more than one occasion publicly stated their commitment to promoting a cleaner environment, we believe it is high time they work together to put their words into action.
They could for example declare large sections of the town to be motor vehicle-free. High and Prince Alfred Streets would be good candidates for pedestrian and cyclist areas only.
If it seems impossible to block the areas off completely, perhaps they should only be open to specially designated vehicles, or perhaps electrically powered buses? What if the university only allowed vehicles to use their roads on certain days of the week? For example, cars with even number plates on one day and those with odd plates on the other day.
Maybe none of these ideas is very useful – but surely the Rhodes University brains trust and the municipal officials could work together to come up with some serious lateral thinking to promote a greener environment.
Imagine if Makana was not only known as the Festival City, but also as the greenest city in our country?