Bikers cause environtal damage in park

Josy Cohen, Constantia

We walk our dogs every day to the beautiful Rathfelder Park, which has lots of wildlife, porcupines and blue cranes.

During July to February, dogs are required to be kept on leads because of the ground-nesting birds including owls.

A sign at the beginning of the park says no cycling is allowed yet it is now – without public participation in this matter.

Mountain bikers are allowed in a place where children, babies in prams and the elderly walk and play.

It is a danger to all who use it and is detrimental to the environment.

Simply, bikes and pedestrians are incompatible in a park. Users of the park are very upset and a few have suffered injuries from bikes.

These mountain bikes go extremely fast, especially when going down the hill, and when they appear suddenly behind you, it is very dangerous.

In addition, the environmental damage they are causing is enormous. Photos show the crevices which have been gouged out by the bikes. Environmental damage will continue if biking is not stopped in the park.

The pedestrian pathway in Rathfelder Park is no place for an off-road cycling track and this must be stopped.

I have written to the mayor in despair as our ward councillor does not care about replying to my mails in this matter.

Should we start a petition and turn this into a political issue and motivate environmentalists as well? Besides being saddled with the water crisis, this is another example of how uncaring the DA has become.

Do we need to produce a community petition to stop this undesirable and unsafe practice? Must we vote out the DA before sanity prevails?

The DA councillors seem to have enough time to fight with the mayor but not enough time to reply to and assist the residents who misguidedly voted them in.

Eddie Andrews, area south Mayco member, responds:

During 2015/16, the City of Cape Town opened a section of greenbelts in the Constantia Valley for recreational off-road cycling.

The cycling route (through selected sections of the Constantia greenbelts) was motivated through a proposal by the Pedal Power Association of South Africa (PPSA), supported by the Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts, the Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (ex CPOA) and other interested parties.

The proposal was to provide a continuous cycling route from Tokai to Rhodes Drive, in order to link up with the trails on Table Mountain and finally into the city.

In June 2015, a motion was submitted to Sub-council 20 requesting City’s recreation and parks department to consider the proposal.

Prior to any approvals, an extensive public participation process was undertaken, the results of which showed overwhelming support in favour of the proposal. The trail was thus established in December 2015, and has since been in operation.

The signage displayed on the park is correct as, generally, no cycling is allowed anywhere in the park other than on the dedicated cycle track which is clearly demarcated. The trail has been clearly marked with directional signage in both directions and its condition is checked regularly (see picture).

The recreation and parks department is aware of the erosion on the Rathfelder (Bel Ombre Meadow) section of the trail and is currently in the process of implementing remedial action, in association with PPSA.

The vision for these trails is one of shared use, mutual respect and enjoyment for all. Several residents along the route have suggested improvements since the trail opened, and we have made a couple of route changes to facilitate the safe use of the trails by all users. Trail signage
has been changed and cyclists are urged to stick on the marked route at all times. Cyclists have also been requested to respect the conditions of entry and code of conduct, and not to spoil it for other cyclists and trail users.

The City’s recreation and parks department and PPSA are serious about making this venture work and will do their best to attend to problems arising without delay.

Any problems relating to the cycle track can be reported directly to Fay.Howa@capetown.gov.za

* The recreation and parks department will contact Josy Cohen to discuss options for reducing the impact of the concerns raised in her email.

Several residents along the route have suggested improvements since the trail opened, and we have been open to making changes to facilitate the needs of all users where possible.

* Ward 62 councillor Liz Brunette said due process had been followed to allow cyclists on particular routes and that had been approved by the public and motivated by the Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts and the Pedal Power Association.

* Robert Vogel, of the Pedal Power Association, said all due processes had been followed and he would leave it to the City recreation and parks department to respond.