The simple act of riding a bicycle is a pleasure that many people have come to fully appreciate during 2020. With the unexpected shock to our personal lives that the Coronavirus COVID-19 has brought, one of the most jarring experiences has been the limitations placed on our ability to exercise freely…and for many this meant staring mournfully at their trusty two-wheeled steeds gathering dust in the garage.
As National Lock-Down Level 3 offers improved exercise freedom, what better time to celebrate the incredible invention of the bicycle than on the 3rd of June which is World Bicycle Day!
Bicycles were invented in order for people to get from A to B quickly and revolutionised the way people could commute, work and exercise. From the penny-farthing to road bikes, fixies and mountain bikes, it is an undisputed fact that bicycles are one of the most simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally sustainable means of transportation.
In KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, Sappi have been able to play cupid with the love affairs of many people and their bicycles. The synergy that is created between the rider and the bicycle develops creativity – “Hmm, I wonder if I can roll over that rock?”; social engagement – “Guys, whose up for a coffee ride at 7am?”; and allows the rider to have an immediate awareness of their local environment – “Oh my word! Did you see that black-backed Jackal? This view is amazing!”
Sappi is delighted to bring this positivity into people’s lives through carefully managed land access, but there are other major benefits that are less visible – these are the socio-economic impacts of land access. Nature-based tourism (people being attracted to the trails) allows job stimulation through trail building and maintenance, as well as all the services that riders and trail runners want – like steaming hot coffee, burgers, bike washes, hot showers, B&Bs and shopping experiences. The trails are an integral pin in the tourism cog. Moreover, local schools and environmental projects see the benefits of funding from sponsorships through events on Sappi land, and through recreational visitor income.
It’s amazing to think that something as basic as ‘fun on two wheels’ can put food on the table, improve children’s educational opportunities and create an invaluable sense of pride and purpose for people whose lives exist around, on and because of the trails. Long live the bicycle, and long live the trails!
Sappi would like to thank the public for respecting the land access closure during the National Lock-Down. Ultimately, this will lead to long-term access and sustainability – a small sacrifice now for lasting joy.
Paid partnership with Sappi.