Streets as conduits for social justice: analysis of the current mobility culture of cape town streets and their ability to catalyse authentic community participation in enhancing mobility for all

02 Nov 2021

The Mobility Culture in South African cities describes how people move, are forced to move and one in which tiers of government create movement conduits to allow for multiple mobility modes. This culture of movement is more complex than the provision of physical infrastructure or even the contested prioritization of physical spaces, but is representative of broader social justice concerns underpinning the creation of post apartheid South African urban systems. This paper looks to reveal linkages between social justice theory and the current South African mobility paradigm with particular reference to utility cycling and pedestrian options that look to offer the lowest cost access to opportunities that equitable movement can provide for the urban poor. Interrogation of this mobility landscape includes an understanding of notions of spatial and social justice resulting from geographies of investment and disposition including the relocation or dislocation of communities through political or economic pressures. Critical thinking, comparative theory and peer review is offered in part by the Untokening Conference series, where the author has been invited to participate with the top leaders in mobility advocacy particularly from marginalized communities in the United States. This collective is looking to create a new vision for mobility advocacy focused on the intersectionality between Just Streets and ‘untokenised’ authentic community engagement. Outcomes of this paper include suggested participatory processes to engage communities regarding mobility from local research and international precedent as well as suggested representative structures to give voice to the often marginalized commuting community within the context of the South African mobility culture, desperately needed despite being embedded in one of the world’s most constitutionally progressive countries.