Singletrack for all with Trails SA

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Making mountain bike trail building, work for everyone (Photo: Jacques Marais Media)
Making mountain bike trail building, work for everyone (Photo: Jacques Marais Media)
  • Nobody likes riding a bike, or walking, on the side of a road.
  • Dedicated cycling and walking paths are commonplace in Europe. And that change is now happening, in South Africa.
  • Trails Africa is a build project to create a flood of new singletrack trails, parallel to existing road infrastructure. For the benefit of visiting riders and bordering communities.

After a successful first phase, the Trails SA project is scaling for much bigger things.

It all started in a meeting between trail builder, Kim Lord, and retired ad executive, Regard Goussard.

The reality is that South African has a terrifying pedestrian safety problem. Everywhere. Even in rural areas, with lower traffic density.

Trails SA co-finder Goussard, recalls his ground zero moment.

"It all started when I was driving and saw foreign tourists, a couple and their kids, riding in the yellow line. And the one kid, was really struggling. I knew we could make it safer."

Trails for everyone

The desire was to create a balanced public/private initiative. Mountain biking is expensive and trail access is beyond the reach and benefit of most communities.

But with Trails SA, schoolchildren and lower-income commuters can finally walk on dedicated singletrack routes. Instead of having to constantly dodge traffic, walking on the shoulder of tar roads.

Built by the community. And ridden by riders, from the community. (Photo: Jacques Marais Media)

Linking some great rides

The first phase of the Trails SA project is complete and encompasses linking trails in the Banhoek Conservancy to those in Idas Valley, Paarl and Franschhoek. It also joins trails in Stellenbosch to those in Idas Valley.

With the support of Imperial logistics, the project is building impressive momentum. A total of 3800km of walking and commuter cycling trails have been built.

Build it - and they will come

Beyond the community utility of having safer linking routes, there has also been notable labour absorption.

More than a hundred contact and permanent jobs have been created, with the Trails SA build project.

It’s not only about the build crews digging and shaping soil, to make the trails.

Keeping the build momentum going

Sustainability and trail management, through all seasons, are key. And getting more tourists to understand the experience on offer, with these trails, for visiting various wineries and other venues, linked by them.

To achieve this, Trails SA has also appointed 22 trail rangers.

The rangers ensure that people purchase permits to ride the trails, help repair broken bicycles, and offer assistance to anyone who needs medical attention.

Concentrated in the Banhoek, Simondium, Franshoek and Paarl areas, the Trails SA project has strong ambitions into the greater Cape Town area.

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