Bikes race onto Constantia trails

2015-06-23 06:00

astrid februarie

PHOTO: astrid februarie

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A cycle route along the Constantia greenbelts will provide more areas for mountain bikers to cycle legally and in a safe environment.

This is according to ward councillor Elizabeth Brunette, who presented the proposal at a Protea subcouncil 20 meeting last week.

The motion received support from the ward councillors present at the meeting.

Brunette says Constantia has 113 hectares of public open space incorporating greenbelts and meadows along riverine corridors.

“Families, hikers, dog walkers and horse riders use the extensive network of pathways established in the 1980s by City parks and increasingly maintained by the Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts with assistance from City parks,” she says.

The City’s parks department does not currently permit cycling in the greenbelts, but as the popularity of mountain biking has grown, cyclists have started riding there.

“A group of enthusiasts approached me to request that the City allow cycling along a specific route that would connect to the Table Mountain National Park (TNMP) in Tokai and Rhodes Drive in Constantia,” she says.

In going forward with the request Brunette chaired two meetings with a group of cyclists from Constantia, representatives from Pedal Power Association, Table Mountain Bikers, Bicycle Empowerment Network and the Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts.

“The cyclists developed a proposal with maps of the proposed route, signage, a code of conduct for cyclists and community funding opportunities for maintenance and new paths,” she says.

This proposal was presented to the mayoral committee member and City parks management, who indicated their support for the proposal and requested a meeting with the cyclists group to discuss a memorandum of agreement between City parks and the cyclists group.

“At the subsequent meeting of cyclists and City parks management a draft memorandum of agreement and the process to follow to get approval to cycle through the greenbelts was discussed. The motion is the first step in initiating the process,” Brunette says.

She further says that most Constantia greenbelts have space for cyclists and other groups, with the exceptions being the popular and busy Alphen Trail, the environmentally sensitive Klassenbosch Trail and the inaccessible Upper Silverhurst Trail.

“The cyclists group has access to funding that can supplement the limited funding that City parks has for proactive and reactive maintenance while a code of conduct will clarify how all users can use the pathways in the public open spaces,” Brunette says.

She says the cyclists group will institute self-policing measures which will require cyclists to have a bell on their bike to warn other users of their presence on a trail, a bike board for identification, a speed limit and agreement to give way to other users of the paths.

“Mountain bikers who have traditionally used the cycle paths in the TMNP, Tokai and Constantiaberg, which is closed to the public for at least 18 months since the devastating fires in March, will have an alternative route connecting them with the TMNP in areas that are open to the public,” she says.

Brunette says additional people using the greenbelts will enhance the safety of other users and neighbouring properties. “A public participation process will allow other users to comment on the use of the Constantia greenbelts by cyclists and the memorandum of understanding and agreement between City parks and the cyclists group,” she says.

The members of subcouncil 20 have decided to support the proposal and requested that the City parks department initiate the public participation process. If the public supports the proposal then City parks will draw up the agreement with the cyclists group to define the roles and responsibilities related to the routes.

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