Day one of the Ecomobility Festival: testing the Sandton City Roof Park & Ride

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After a two-day delay and a chorus of naysayers swearing Sandton would grind to an almighty halt under the onslaught of eco-friendliness, the Ecomobility Festival is finally here.

To check it out, I headed into the belly of the beast this morning only to find out that as long as you have your wits about you, and do a bit of journey pre-planning, you should be fine.

That said, there are of course a few niggles that some may find annoying; allow me to walk you through my experience.

Sandton City Park and Walk

There are a total of 14 park and ride locations which we told you about earlier this morning.

Much to my disappointment, I discovered that Sandton City Roof is not a park and ride but actually a park and walk. While this may have caused some confusion, I did not see many cars in the parking lot on the Sandton City roof parking, but in fairness there was no signage to let me know I was in the correct place, either. When I approached Sandton City staff for confirmation that this was indeed the roof parking, I was told “I think so” with a shrug.

I would later find out that this was in fact not the rooftop parking but one level below it; my sense of direction failed me there.

Once in Sandton City I headed to an information kiosk that, ironically, had no information about the EcoMobility Festival. While I understand that Sandton City is not responsible for the festival, given that they are a park and ride venue a bit more information from them would have been welcome.

I was eventually able to ascertain that I would only pay a flat parking fee of R10 for the day, which was helpful.

I then went in search of an official EcoMobility kiosk from which to gather more information, but unfortunately no luck was to be had there either – the person behind the kiosk found my questions to be a bit much, and called the manager who was able to assist me further.

I mentioned the lack of pertinent festival information at Sandton City, and an Ecomobility Festival representative told me that this topic would be addressed.

Make sure you know Sandton inside and out

If you’re planing to arrive in Sandton and get through by the seat of your pants, you should seriously reconsider. While for the most part things appear quite normal, once you get into the fenced off areas there are only certain areas through which traffic may flow, and the rest is reserved for pedestrians or cyclists.

A quiet Alice Lane sees only tenants and pedestrians gracing its tarmac today.
A quiet Alice Lane sees only tenants and pedestrians gracing its tarmac today.

If you plan on leaving your car at Sandton City, then I advise you to arrange your “last mile” transport before the time so you aren’t running around trying to find out what you should be doing five minutes before the bus leaves.

It is also vital that you acquaint yourself with the Ecomobility website, Windows, iOS or Android app and the various park and ride systems, as walking blindly through the streets of Sandton can be exhausting.

The Shoelace Express

I highly recommend that you pack a bottle of water this week, because you’re going to be walking a lot and there is apparently a heatwave heading straight for Jozi. I walked around the edge of Sandton City before submitting to the heat and finding a tuk tuk to take me back to my parking.

The new dedicated bicycle lanes the city hopes more citizens will make use of.
The new dedicated bicycle lanes the city hopes more citizens will make use of.

For the most part, you’re going to be walking through the streets of Sandton; that is, unless you take your bike with you to make the journey a bit easier.

Can you still use a car?

Unfortunately I have to answer no to this. While getting around on the outskirts of the Festival is easy enough, you’re not going to have much luck going through the designated driving lanes. From what I saw the traffic on these roads is quite intense, and because the roads are down to one lane in either direction, this is more of an aggravation than a solution.

Besides, the whole point of this festival is to get you out of your car and into alternative transport.

Cars are restricted to one lane in either direction on one road.
Cars are restricted to one lane in either direction on one road.

While things appear surprisingly quiet, don’t be fooled into thinking that’s how they will stay. The reason I say this is because most of the public schools are currently on the September/October break, which means the traffic I saw today is not indicative of the traffic we’ll see next week, or the rest of the month for that matter.

I sincerely hope that City of Jo’burg is able to iron out the kinks before the Festival’s full effects are felt next week, when the schools are back and the usual number of cars hit the roads.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.