FAQ: 2018 Cape Town Cycle Tour and the water crisis

We hear you! On 1 February, Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust Director David Bellairs answered FAQs in a live Facebook session. If you missed it, here is what he said.


  • Where do the profits from the Cycle Tour go?

The Cape Town Cycle Tour and associated events are not owned or organised by a commercial entity but a not-for-profit Trust. The event was established 41 years ago with the purpose of raising money for charities. Every single cent of the net surplus is distributed to the Rotary Club of Claremont and the Pedal Power Association, and used for community upliftment programmes. Please find more information here:



  • How did you get to 2 million litres as the amount of water the people coming to Cape Town for the Cycle Tour will use?
    • 20 109 entrants are from Cape Town and are already bound by Level 6b restrictions.
    • Those coming from elsewhere consist of 2 780 international entrants and 12 111 South Africans from outside the drought borders of Cape Town.
    • 43% of our current entrants are therefore from out of town and 57% are from Cape Town.
    • Results from a 5 year analysis of entry-to-participation rates indicate that there is a 24% dropout rate, due to a number of factors such as illness, urgent business trips, lack of training etc. As such, we expect the 14 891 riders currently entered from outside of Cape Town to drop off to around 11 426 non-Capetonian riders participating on the day.
    • Based on a further analysis of major sporting-event stays in 2017, the average stay of out of towners is 2.5 days in Cape Town, which equates to a total of 28 565 bed-nights.
    • We are informing all riders coming to Cape Town that they are expected to strictly comply with Level 6B restrictions like Capetonians, and to limit their consumption to 50 litres or less per person per day.
    • Using the figures above, we reached the projection that 1 428 250 million litres of water would be consumed by riders from out of town
    • Thus: 11 426 riders x 2,5 days x 50L = 1 428 250 million litres

We’ve seen a significant slow-down in the economy off the highs of 2007/2008 and one of the results has been that many riders now travel to Cape Town with other Cycle Tour entrants rather than in family groups. We are appealing to those who had planned to bring their families with them to not make it a family holiday this year. Of course, in some cases tickets have been bought and rooms booked, so we will therefore be putting an additional amount of 571 750 litres into the grid to allow for additional visitors. This equates to 4 574 non-cycling visitors accompanying participants here for 2.5 days.

To confirm then – a total of 2-million litres of water will be purchased by the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust and put back into the municipal water grid.


  • Have you thought about the water that people will use at their hotels/ air bnb’s etc. How will you manage that amount being used?

We are communicating directly with all participants to ensure that they are aware of Cape Town’s Level 6b restrictions. By the time they arrive in Cape Town, every participant will be aware that their daily consumption may not exceed 50 litres of water, and that this includes their drinking water, showering etc. We are also encouraging those coming by road to bring their own supplies of drinking water, and to for example take their dirty washing home with them rather than having it laundered here. Furthermore all Cape Town hospitality operators are also required to adhere to these restrictions and to have initiatives in place to ensure their guests do not exceed the 50 litres of water allowed per person per day.


  • Are you telling me that 35 000 cyclists won’t take long showers or wash their clothes while they’re here?

The majority of the riders are from Cape Town and are already subject to Level 6b water restrictions. By March, those arriving from out of town will have been made aware that they are subject to the same restrictions. The cycling fraternity is a caring and very conscientious community and they know it is a privilege to ride the Cape Town Cycle Tour especially while the inhabitants of the host city suffer through this water crisis. We have great faith that they will be meticulous in sticking to the 50 litres they are allowed per day in terms of the water we are purchasing to offset their consumption. We are also aware that a great number of these riders will be bringing water with them, not just for their own use – but additional water to share with others in need..


  • Where is the water that is supposed to offset non-Capetonian riders’ use coming from?

The water will be sourced from certified springs in areas that are not affected by drought. Three sources have been proposed (identified) and we are working urgently with the City to secure the necessary water quality clearances so that we can start the process of putting the 2 million litres of water onto the municipal water grid.


  • Won’t the extraction of 2 million litres cause drought in another area?

We plan to source this water only from areas not experiencing drought and where there is an abundance of water from certified natural springs.


  • How will you be putting the water back in the system?

The water will be added to the municipal water grid in the manner deemed most efficient by the City of Cape Town. We are working very closely with our hydration partner, Coca Cola Peninsula Beverages, who will assist us with a variety of transport solutions for this water.


  • When will the water be put back into the system?

It will be added to the municipal water grid over a period of time, starting in mid-February. There are a number of options but it depends on the final source of the water. The water won’t be fed into the taps, but will be put into the municipal supply of water. We will keep you up to date and post pictures of this process, which will be independently audited.


  • What about all the water needed to stage the event?

We have managed to take the entire event off the municipal water grid. Please see more info regarding this here: https://www.capetowncycletour.com/blog/2018-cape-town-cycle-tour-will-take-place/


  • Why aren’t you cancelling? You cancelled for wind, but not water. What about postponing?

We have spent an enormous amount of time considering our options. The decision has not been an easy one to make. Over R500-million flows into the Western Cape economy at the time of the Cycle Tour.

2018 will see in excess of R10-million (less the cost of 2-million litres of water) distributed to our two beneficiaries and the numerous charities that rely on this source of income. Furthermore, many participants use the event as a platform to raise money for other charities which compounds the charitable impact of the event.  Even if we manage to avoid Day Zero, the water shortage is going to have a significant impact on the economy of the entire Western Cape and South Africa as a whole. Cape Town is the second highest contributor to the national gross domestic product (GDP) after the City of Johannesburg.

100% of the net proceeds go to our two beneficiaries: the Pedal Power Association and the Rotary Club of Claremont. Schemes that are supported by the proceeds from the Cycle Tour include community hospital projects, feeding schemes, early childhood development centres, cycle donations and clinics for disadvantaged children, and safety campaigns such as “Stay Wider than the Rider”.

Members of communities along the route, such as Masiphumelele, Ocean View / Lakeside, are involved in helping to marshal, manage water points and assist with the environmental management plan. They are paid for their time, as are the 30 service organisations who work along the route.

Taking all of this into account, and the fact that we have managed to ensure that the event itself will draw no water from the municipal water grid, we committed ourselves to seeking a way forward that will help us continue to support our beneficiaries and support the economy of Cape Town, while acknowledging and offsetting the water used by our out-of-town riders. Furthermore, we remain committed to seeking ways of lessening our impact even further.


  • How much does the Cycle Tour bring into the city?

Over R500-million flows into the Western Cape economy at the time of the Cape Town Cycle Tour.


  • What about desalinated water?

Desalinated water will form part of the non-potable water used by some of our suppliers on the day of the event.


  • Can we talk to the airlines to allow us to bring water to Cape Town?

We haven’t yet had a chance to interact with civil aviation and the airlines. However, we are working with our sponsor Pick n Pay on a potential solution where riders flying into Cape Town who are unable to bring additional water with them, are able to purchase water on their arrival at the Cycle Tour Expo. Riders will receive direct communication regarding this once all the logistics involved have been thoroughly investigated. In addition we are encouraging out-of-town riders who are driving to Cape Town to bring water for their own consumption and to bring extra if they can.


  • Are we going to be safe on the route? (Riots / Protests)

While we hope nothing will disrupt the Cape Town Cycle Tour in 2018, as responsible event organisers, we work closely with the City of Cape Town Safety and Security and SAPS every year to assess and plan responses to all possible scenarios. We are confident that we have emergency plans in place for all eventualities and have six alternative routes that can be activated and rolled out quickly if required.


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