Nothing pedestrian about Simon’s Town’s penguin crossing

The penguin pedestrian crossing in Simon’s Town. Picture: Grant Williams/City of Cape Town

Zebras are taking a back seat to penguins in Simon’s Town, which has unveiled a “penguin crossing” for pedestrians.

The penguins in standing, diving, and swimming positions were painted next to a pedestrian crossing in St George’s Street, on Wednesday and Thursday, December 6 and 7. It’s not far from the famous penguin colony at Boulders Beach.

In 2018, the members of the Simon’s Town Business Association (STBA) also painted penguins on a pedestrian crossing near Jubilee Square, but they hardly had time to cross the road before they were removed by the City of Cape Town for waddling foul of national road regulations (“City blocks bird paintings on crossing,” Echo, November 8, 2018).

At the time, the association got the idea from a talk by then Economic Development and Tourism MEC Alan Winde, at a networking meeting.

Mr Winde, who is now the provincial premier, had shared ideas on how to promote Simon’s Town and make it attractive as a tourism destination.

However, after the team had painted the penguins, the City said that they were in contravention of the National Road Traffic Act and the road was repainted by the City.

Fast forward five years, and the new STBA chairperson, Jenny Rogesr, said she had decided to try again, but this time with all the procedures and permits in place.

“I worked closely with the City to get all the required permissions and documents in place, which took about six months,” she said.

She said the project was backed by ward councillor Simon Liell-Cock and mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

“I would like to thank everyone from the STBA that put so much hard work and dedication into this project to beautify our town,” Ms Rogers said.

Mayoral committee member for urban mobility Rob Quintas said Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town was globally famous for the colony of African penguins.

“We have over the past two years, invested in, or approved partner-installed place-making pedestrian crossings and other pavement public art to create an urban streetscape energy or indicate heritage, tourism, and cultural precincts,” he said.

Mr Liell-Cock said the penguin crossing was made possible with the support of the mayor.

“Simon’s Town has so much more to offer than penguins, but the penguins have put it on the global tourist map, and this is a fun way to acknowledge that,” he said.