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Conflict over more mountain bike tracks in Wellington City Council'sPolhill Reserve (NZ)
It's a no-brainer: bikes aren't safe on trails. So they drive away all other trail users. Notice that they try the old "the new trail will reduce the traffic on the old trail" ploy....
Conflict over more mountain bike tracks in Wellington City Council's Polhill Reserve
Last updated 14:23, September 6 2016
Lisa Ng Photography
A rider on 'Serendipity' trail in Polhill.
Are mountain bikers elbowing out walkers in Wellington?
Mountain bikers have faced a set back in the quest for more trails with the proposal for a new downhill track at Polhill Reserve knocked back by councillors at the environment committee meeting last Thursday.
Wellington City councillors debated if mountain bikers were taking over the city's reserves and councillor Iona Pannett cast the deciding vote against a new track and said some residents felt "frightened" and "unsafe".
Anthony Edmonds with his son Sam.
The track creation was discussed as part of the committee's review of Wellington's open space access plan.
The Polhill track idea "still has a pulse", Craig Starnes from the Brooklyn Trail Builders said after the meeting.
Simon Kennett at Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park, Karori, Wellington.
"It's not knocked back, we just didn't get what we wanted, when we wanted it."
He said the current congestion of tracks was "a bit like having the traffic issues of the Basin Reserve in the middle of Polhill".
He is hopeful the track will go ahead after further consultation required by the councillors.
Brooklyn Turbine on Brooklyn Hill.
Wellington Trails Trust's Anthony Edmonds said, also after the meeting, that he hoped the delay wasn't long.
"As a trail runner and parent as well as a mountain biker, I hope that the delay that the councillors have created is resolved quickly."
He described the trail as a "no-brainer" that would ensure the safety of the 100,000 users of the reserve.
KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ
Mountain biker Sam Kain on Brooklyn Hill.
Edmonds told the committee he was surprised the track was not included in the open spaces plan.
The additional track would take bikers off the overcrowded Upper Transient track and would create "harmony" between walkers and bikers in the area.
"People underestimate how big sports like trail running and mountain biking has become in New Zealand," Edmonds told the councillors.
Opposition to the track was "misreading" the level of enthusiasm for a recreational activity that "more people do than rugby," Edmonds said.
But detractors said more consultation was needed and there was a risk of the elite sport taking over the reserve.
Pannett said she represented people who felt unsafe and were frightened by mountain bikers.
"I do feel the mountain biking community is being a little bit demanding," Pannett said in the meeting.
She wants to see further consultation with community members, mountain bikers and people doing restoration work before a final decision is made on the track.
The committee have voted to consult further on the track, but it still needs to be signed off by full council.
Community, sport and recreation committee chairman Paul Eagle said further community discussion was necessary to ensure all parties were happy.
A decision about the track should be made by Christmas, so the track could be ready for use next summer.
Councillor Helene Ritchie cautioned against the new track in the meeting and said she did not want to see the reserve become "a defacto dedicated Makara Peak".
She said that before further mountain biking tracks were added on the hill the council would need to consider providing more parking and facilities.
Councillor David Lee, who moved the amendment to add the track, said the outcome was "quite disappointing".
He said the uptake of mountain biking at Polhill and across the city was a great success story.
"Mountain biking is the new skiing," Lee said.
The revised open space access plan will need to be signed off at the next full council meeting.
Priorities of the plan include extending the skyline track by completing the main section between Old Coach Road and Spicer Forest.
Other projects include developing the harbour escarpment walk, the great harbour way, the rural coastal connection and the east-west connection.
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