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Cycling trails in Constantia Greenbelts: Update

Cycling trails in Constantia Greenbelts: Update

Update (May 2016): In consultation with City Parks and local residents, we have re-routed the “Belle Ombre Meadow” section of the Greenbelts trail.The two access points, Avenue Beauvais (high side) and Avenue Picardie (low side), have been clearly marked and you should have no problem following the new route from either side.

The short descent from Avenue Beauvais, as well as the blind corners around the reed bed were an issue, as cyclists were not slowing down as expected and local residents felt the trail through the forest was “an accident waiting to happen”, as one resident put it. The new route makes the trail a little bit longer, but more importantly, there are no blind corners.

The requests made by the residents were not unreasonable and in the interests of safety and good neighbourliness, we thought this was the best option. Speed is the primary concern of all the users. We ask you to please slow down through the Greenbelts when you see anyone ahead of you.

February: Following months of discussions, the Constantia Valley Greenbelts Cycling Trail was officially approved by City Parks in December 2015. As of 10 February 2016, the Greenbelts Cycle Trail has been clearly marked with directional arrows and a Code of Conduct at the main access points.

The proposal has followed the official channels, with interested and affected parties offered the opportunity to get involved from the start and to provide input during the public participation phase.

“It was a fitting time for the City to re-evaluate its position and the proposal has received support from the ward councillors in sub-council 20 and from City parks,” said Elizabeth Brunette, ward 62 councillor.

Cyclists have been using the southern suburbs Greenbelts for many years, with responsible riding generally being tolerated by other users of these public spaces. In recent years, the number of mountain bikers has 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 elsewhere in the City are too difficult for entry-level or young cyclists to ride. “The Constantia Greenbelt trail is, however, an ideal space for novice mountain bikers to learn the ropes, or for families to spend time together,” said PPA CEO Robert Vogel.

“The Constantia Greenbelt trail system 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,” he added.

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 cyclists sharing this much-loved public open space.

Construction work was managed by the Pedal Power Association under the supervision of City parks officials.

Trail pic 2

Cyclists yield to all other users groups. 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 on occasion even need to get off their bikes to let other users pass safely. “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’”, Vogel said.

“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.”

code of conduct

Apart from some restructuring at the top of the Diep River Trail, the route has not been adapted in any way to favour the more experienced or competent cyclist.

At the entrance to the Diep River Trail on Southern Cross Drive, 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. Please respect the signs and no-go areas.

It is important to point out which sections 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 which is partially degraded by the sun and vandalism, we have placed additional signage in strategic locations. We request that cyclists stay out of these trails,” Vogel said.

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 trail (see map below) is another busy Greenbelt and it was deemed advisable to not open it for cyclists during the trial phase.

The Alphen Trail is NOT open for cycling

The Alphen Trail is NOT open for cycling

The 8 km trail can be ridden in either direction. Please ride at a sensible speed and respect all users at all times.

Starting from the bottom of Lismore Avenue in Tokai, cyclists enter 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 proceed with caution and respect other trail users. The route then crosses Firgrove Way and enters the Strawberry Lane section of Greenbelt, still along a narrow trail. This section exits at Spaanschemat River Road (close to Peddlars on the Bend) and crosses the road (at the pedestrian crossing) to enter Brounger Road.

The route then 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. Cross the tar road and continue for about 200m (look out for the sub-station on the right) to turn right at the thoroughfare that meets up with Picardie Avenue.

Cross over Rathfelder Avenue and enter the lovely 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 at the end of Avenue Beauvais and enter the Diep River Section of the Greenbelts and head up towards the mountain. (Please note that the lower section of this trail is out of bounds as it would join up with the Alphen section). 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.

greenbelts map1greenbelts map2greenbelts map3
Main photograph: Shot by the guys at bicycle