arbitrary stuff that comes to mind: whenever I feel like thinking aloud

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Day in the Life ~ My one wish for Rosebank


It's a short walk from my apartment building to the Rosebank mall.

It's a particularly rewarding walk on a late Sunday afternoon.
Especially in spring and summer, when the jacarandas are either in full bloom or bursting into a canopy of spring purple. Stretching from either side of the street and touching at the centre they drop just enough dappled shade to soften the Highveld sun.

I couldn't help but compare it to the other malls that I spent most of yesterday fruitlessly travelling backwards and forwards to while I hunted down a decent Bluetooth mouse. The biggest of them all, the Sandton mall, well you'd expect it to have everything, wouldn't you? Not a chance. Lots of the same stuff in a hundred and one different shops, just different markups, different salespeople, different storefronts. But that's another conversation for a different time!

Aside from Rosebank, there's not a mall that you can get into without going in by car. Even the short walk from the high-speed Gautrain terminus to the Sandton mall is fraught. There, even the pavements disrespect feet! They are small and cramped, often dirty and populated by the people who keep the place working, not those who shop in the mall. No, you wouldn't see a consumer (with or without kids or partner!) walking along those pavements. Its a place of work, not a thoroughfare for shoppers. Shoppers enter by way of the car parks ~ pavements are for workers or people who can't afford cars.

These malls are built like fortified cities: Everything from tasteless Tuscany  to faux Tudor, and not forgetting the gleaming blandness of glass and steel.

In Rosebank, however, feet are respected. Its pleasant walking there, and no great shakes going home either:


All the major entrances have wide avenues and open doors expecting people to come in from the surrounding suburbs, hotels, and B&Bs. Residents of the area can walk from one tree-lined avenue into the mall and then right across into another. The open-air restaurants, cafes, and sidewalk coffee bars are open both to the sky and to the avenues and walkways that lead to them.

So, if I have one wish for Rosebank, it would be this: that developers will always remember that people are more important than transport, and make sure that all of the people who come in by car or rail do so in a way and using routes that leave the rest of us using pavements that respect ordinary people's feet :-)

There is nothing more satisfying than being able to stroll up into the mall, have a quiet a cup of coffee, drop in to the grocers, or supermarket, bookshop or store and then stroll on home in quiet of the evening.

Please don't change it until after I die, no, definitely not a moment before!


all images copyright (c) the author

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