Position Papers
Sabelo Gwala
Department of Transport (South Africa)
Published in
Submitted by
Peter Midgley, gTKP
Related theme(s)
Urban Mobility
Africa (AFR)
South Africa

Urban non-motorised transport (NMT): A Critical look at the development of Urban NMT Policy and planning mechanisms in South Africa from 1996 – 2006

With problems of congestion and pollution in urban areas perhaps greater work is needed in terms of both infrastructure and policy alignment when it comes to urban non-motorised transport (NMT). The objective of reviewing transport planning and policy mechanisms that prevailed during 1996 and 2006 is to assess whether existing planning and policy mechanisms; (1) allow for the integration of NMT into the transport system and into infrastructure and land use planning; (2) the mechanisms facilitate the evaluation of policy to improve NMT; (3) allow for the development of road design and maintenance standards that recognise NMT as a traffic component and thereby allowing for the reduction of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities.

Literature and international experience suggests that for NMT it is non-government organisations that influence government and lobby for changes in policy, It is also found that once a policy is in place it is the local “street-level bureaucrats” who shape the policy and the in South Africa such a national policy and/or master plan has been lacking.

This analysis finds that the planning mechanisms have not always been in place during the period under review. Once they were in place, however, these mechanisms have allowed for revision and non-government influence in order to adequately recognise NMT. The challenge then became one of advocacy as has not been sufficient national and street level policy advocacy for NMT. Prevailing planning mechanisms are therefore not yet making NMT an imperative. With the challenge of policy advocacy for NMT, it is important to briefly compare policy advocacy theory with the prevailing urban NMT arena.

The production of planning documents (the Provincial Land Strategic Frameworks and the municipal Integrated Transport Plans ITPs) has failed to produce enough provincial strategies. Only two provincial NMT Plans exist to date; in the Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal. During the review period there was no National NMT policy or provincial master plan, only a national NMT project. Between 1996 and 2006 there was no provincially driven urban NMT project.