The Garden Route may never be the same again. In the next few months, work will begin on an innovative cycle trail from Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay.
Western Cape economic opportunities MEC Alan Winde said it would go a long way towards “positioning the province as the trail capital of Africa”.
Winde’s spokesman Bronwynne Jooste said the trail would sometimes use existing roads and in other parts would be blazed off-road. It was intended to be used for recreation by tourists and by locals to get from A to B.
The trail is part of Project Khulisa, the Western Cape’s economic growth strategy.
Tammy Evans, head of the project, said: “There are more than 200000 people formally employed in the region’s tourism sector. Under a high-growth scenario, working with the private sector and other spheres of government, we could add up to 120000 more [jobs] within the next five years. This is our target.”
Andrew Wheeldon, director of Bicycle Cities, said the trail was a “great idea”, but cautioned that “consultation with local populations [is] absolutely vital” to ensure the project’s success.
The aim of combining recreational needs with the needs of local communities was positive, Wheeldon said, but parts of the route might pose a challenge.
It was also important to get local cycling groups involved in the planning because they were most aware of which routes represented “the least fatigue”.
Wheeldon said pedestrians were also likely to use the cycle routes, which would be “well-paved, well-looked after, segregated from cars, well-lit and direct”.
The first section, 160km between Plett and Mossel Bay, should be completed by mid-2017.