City invites bikes on green

2015-10-20 06:00
The City of  Cape Town is considering allowing recreational off-road cycling on certain of its greenbelts in Constantia. One of the three formal mountain bike trail networks around the City, all located in the Table Mountain National Park.  

PHOTO

The City of Cape Town is considering allowing recreational off-road cycling on certain of its greenbelts in Constantia. One of the three formal mountain bike trail networks around the City, all located in the Table Mountain National Park. PHOTO

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With more and more people cycling to school, work, shops or for exercise and leisure the City of Cape Town is considering allowing cycling for fun on some of its greenbelt areas in Constantia.

A proposal on this intention is available for public comment until the end of this month. The proposal even goes so far as to suggest a cycling route to link the City Bowl and the Southern Suburbs in a safe, off-road trail network in future.

Belinda Walker, mayoral committee member for community service and special projects, says the popularity of mountain biking has grown tremendously in Cape Town.

“People from across Cape Town are wanting to enjoy the social and health benefits of cycling and families are increasingly looking for safe recreational cycling routes away from the dangerous roads,” she says.

Families also don’t necessarily feel comfortable taking on the technically difficult trails on the mountain. People from all walks of life, including the young and old, enjoy the social and health benefits of cycling, she says.

It is for this reason that the City wants to partner with cycling organisations to improve the network of cycling routes in greenbelts and public open spaces across the city.

It is also a response to the request by the Pedal Power Association, Friends of the Constantia Valley Greenbelts Table Mountain Bikers, Tokai MTB, Bicycle Empowerment Network and the Tokai Foresters MTB Club (“Bikes race to trails”, People’s Post, 23 June).

In the proposal the City recognises the need for safer cycling routes and states it has started investing in safer commuter cycling infrastructure.

The City’s investment includes off-road trail networks in public spaces and through private property where necessary and with agreement.

There are also three formal mountain bike trail networks in Table Mountain National Park – Red Hill to Black Hill in the “Deep South”, Tokai and Silvermine above the Constantia Valley and Table Mountain and Signal Hill trails above the city centre.

Being located inside the Table Mountain National Park the use of these trails requires an activity permit at a cost.

The trails are disconnected from each other and there are no alternative off-road/ mountain bike trails around the mountain, forcing cyclists to use dangerous and busy roads to access the trail network.

Facilities, including parking, at the formal trailheads are limited and in many cases inadequate for the number of users.

ProposalIt is proposed that an initial demarcated route through the Constantia greenbelts be approved by the City’s parks department.

Cyclists have been using the greenbelts as a means of commuting and leisure cycling for many years already.

The City would like to see cyclists become a legitimate user group in the greenbelts and manage the impact of their usage responsibly.

The proposed demarcated trails have been assessed in detail and it has been determined that they are suitable to accommodate cyclists together with all other users.

The proposed route consists of several sections of walking and running trail that traverse through the Constantia greenbelts, including the Soetvlei Avenue, the Spaanschemat River and Strawberry Lane, Pagasvlei, Silverhurst, Belombre and the Diep River trail. There are sections of public road inbetween the sections of trail.

In some places, it may be necessary to build or upgrade a section of trail to allow for a separation between types of users and safe entry and exit points.

The overriding principle for all users of the greenbelts would be one of mutual respect and tolerance.

For instance, the proposal states that cyclists will not have right of way on any of the trails and must yield to all other users in a polite and respectful manner.

Over time the City would like to see the trail networks linking all areas of Cape Town, from the Cape Flats through to the mountains, along a safe, well-constructed network of trails, starting with a cycling route to link the City Bowl and the Southern Suburbs in a safe, off-road trail network.

Trail maintenance and construction could create jobs, the City says.


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