Many things can cause you to miss out on your daily trail fix, writes Meurant Botha. Trails could be closed, shortening winter days cut out post work rides that require driving to the trailhead, or you could simply stay in an area that does not offer much in terms of the narrow stuff.
AmaRider has long realised the link between identifying non-core riding opportunities as a conduit for unlocking more trails and routes within communities. When using the term ‘non-core’ I am referring to trails and routes outside of the trail park/built-for-MTB routes that have been popping up all over. In other words, community trails, which have and should always be non-commercial and free-to-ride facilities.
The prevalence of these opportunities varies between our major centres as each has developed differently. Johannesburg with its vast network of spruits and more spacious development design offers countless opportunities for connectable paths and trails. Rider safety is however, sadly, a very real concern.
Cape Town is a different kettle of fish, as the city is much smaller and has developed in a more tightly clustered manner. But even with this development style there are a surprising number of links and paths right under our noses.
In recent times lot of progress have been made with the addition of bicycle lanes in our major centres, although most of these have been made with paint on roads. My personal opinion is that these lanes, although a great gesture, is going to require a generational mind shift towards pro-pedestrian thinking while our drivers are more focused on a defence/offence game of survival of the fastest.
In Canada a car will slow down 200m from you if you just look as if you are thinking of crossing a road. Unfortunately I believe we’ll eradicate the legacy of apartheid before we get our drivers to develop this sort of mind-set.
We are however equipped with mountain bikes, meaning we can attempt to stay clear of unnecessary traffic interaction and have fun while doing it. In fact, mountain bikers have been sniffing out off-road links to everywhere since forever. We now need to document these links and promote the use of them to generate a groundswell of users if we want to formalise more routes and links. More usage will identify the larger scale interventions like under/over passes that would complete this trail of connectivity.
A key partner in the development of urban trail and links are the local ward councils who represent the residents. It is normally in the interest of the local community to see safe routes inside communities and you’ll be surprised at the level of support for projects of this nature. In many cases they might even have some budget.
A few words of advice though: do not try to develop breaches in gated community perimeters to enable swift links between urban trails, or you’ll find support massing against you.
Share your Urban Trails
If you’d like help promoting and formalizing your urban trails and off-road link routes send a GPX route (or the relevant format your Smartphone sports tracker or cycling computer generates routes in) or a written description of the route to firstname.lastname@example.org.