The Constantia Valley Greenbelts cycling trail was officially approved by City Parks in December 2015. The proposal has followed the official channels,with interested & affected parties offered the opportunity to get involved from the start and provide input during the public participation phase.
There has always been a clear understanding which trails will be opened on a 1 year trial basis and which trails will remain closed to cyclists. While a blanket opening of the entire Greenbelts network would have taken away the current confusion about where one is allowed to cycle and where not, the feeling was that a phased approach would allow the current legal user groups to become accustomed to the cyclists sharing this much-loved public open space.
As of the 5th of February, the Greenbelts Cycle Trail has been clearly marked with directional arrows and a Code of Conduct at the main access points.
At the entrance to the Diep River Trail on Southern Cross Drive, the cyclists have been redirected, past the steps to a separate access point. Cyclists rejoin the existing trail further down the slope.
Along the Silverhurst trail, cyclists have been directed to the wider side of the trail and are not allowed to ride the narrow single track that passes the historic irrigation dam. “No Cycling” signs have been positioned accordingly.
Where there are narrow, dual use sections along the trail, we urge both cyclists and other users to take care and be aware of a possible “bumping into each other” on a blind corner. Cyclists are required to slow down and may need to get off their bikes to let other users pass safely. Cyclists yield to all other users groups.We believe that once the initial teething period has passed and normal routines have adapted to the new users on the Greenbelts, the actions will become ingrained and “normal”.
Cyclists want to enjoy the Greenbelts as much as everyone else, albeit on a bicycle. All users can coexist peacefully by treating each other courteously and with respect.
It is important to point out which of the Greenbelts are not part of the legal trail.
While there are smaller offshoots from the main trail that are not accessible to cyclists, the Klaasenbosch trail and the Alphen trail are the notable exclusions as per the agreement with City Parks.
We urge cyclists to please respect the spirit in which the trail sharing agreement was created and not ride their bikes in the Klaasenbosch and Alphen trails. While there is older”No Cycling” signage in place and partially degraded by the sun and vandalism, we have placed additional signage in strategic locations, requesting cyclists to stay out of these trails.
The Klaasenbosch trails are narrow and winding trails, heavily frequented by horse riders and families with children. A surprise encounter between cyclists and any one or more of the current users, could result in a nasty accident. Horses are trained and under control control by their owners, but some may be naturally more skittish and prefer quieter surroundings.
The Alphen trails is another busy Greenbelt and it was deemed advisable to not open it for cyclists during the trial phase.
Cyclists have been using the Greenbelts for many years, generally tolerated by the other users. In recent years, the numbers of mountain bikers have increased dramatically and they are looking for safe and enjoyable terrain to ride their bikes.A mountain biker has few options in the city and the devastating fires of 2015 have further reduced the legal trail network.
Most of the legal trails are too diffcult for entry level cyclists to ride and the Constantia Greenbelt trail is an ideal space for novice mountain bikers to learn the ropes. Apart from the intervention at the top of the Diep River trail, the route has not been adapted in any way to favour the better cyclists. The Greenbelt trail was proposed as a space for riders to commute from one part of town to the other, for all levels of riders to enjoy the outdoors in a safe environment, to create a link between trail networks and to legalise cycling in one part of the Greenbelts.
There is of course the added vlaue of more “eyes & ears” on the trails that will hopefully add to an ever safer space to enjoy by everyone.