Constantia Valley Greenbelts Cycling Trail.
The Constantia Valley greenbelts cycling trail was officially approved by City Parks in December 2015.
The proposal 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 on 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, 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 by their owners, but some may be naturally more skittish and prefer quieter surroundings.
The Alphen Trail is another busy Greenbelt, and it was deemed advisable not to 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 difficult 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 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 value of more “eyes & ears” on the trails that will hopefully add to an ever safer space to enjoy by everyone.
The route starts at the bottom of Lismore Avenue in Tokai and enters the original cycle track on the Soetvlei Avenue Greenbelt. The route is clearly marked with directional arrows all the way in both directions. From here the route follows the Keyser River along a narrow trail. Please respect other trail users and proceed with caution. The route crosses Firgrove Way and enters the Strawberry Lane section of Greenbelt still along a narrow trail. This section exits at Spaanschemat River Road (by Peddlars on the Bend) and crosses the road (at the pedestrian crossing) and enters Brounger Road. The route turns right off Brounger Road and onto the Pagasvlei Greenbelt section until it meets up with Constantia Main Road. Cross at the pedestrian crossing and enter the Silverhurst Greenbelt section. Here the trail keeps to the left-hand side of the Greenbelt. No cycling is permitted on the trail that runs up past the small dam on the right-hand side of the Greenbelt. Exit this section across the wooden bridge and enter Silverhurst Drive, at the top of the short hill turn left into Duckitt Avenue and continue to Southern Cross Drive. Continue up Cross Southern Cross and turn right at the thoroughfare by the substation that meets up with Picardie Avenue. Cross over Rathfelder and enter the Bel Ombre Greenbelt Section of the trail. Follow the route markers through Bel Ombre Meadow, and cross Rathfelder Avenue again and proceed up Avenue Beauvais. Turn left off Avenue Beauvais and enter the Diep River Section of the Greenbelts and head up towards the mountain. The trail winds its way up four sections of the Diep River Trail and crosses Bel Ombre Road, Monterey Drive and Bellevue Road. On the last, steep, section of the trail, enter the trail to the left up the purpose built cycle trail and exit onto Southern Cross Drive.
The trail can be ridden in either direction. Please ride at a sensible speed and respect all users.
Robert Vogel CEO – Pedal Power Association
featured image courtesy www.bikelife.co.za