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Bureaucrat's Errors Mean closure for Manly Dam

Rob's picture

By Rob - Posted on 12 February 2010

Manly Dam Access Changes Feb 2010

Update: Want to show support for riding at Manly Dam? Sign up to Manly Dam - Save the date and come along!

Update 17/2: Press coverage of this:

Update 22/2: Warringah Council issue a FAQ " response to many letters and emails received..."

Update 24/2: Track will be re-opened to riders but at the expense of walkers. Press coverage here:

I just don't know how to put this, so am going to just get straight to the point:

Manly Warringah Council have decided that due to a bureaucratic error that happened many years ago the single track sections of the Manly Dam circuit have never actually been technically legal riding. As such, instead of turning a blind eye, or deciding to make an extra effort to work around what is their mistake, they are to penalise riders by closing sections of the track.

If you look at the linked map, it's obvious that the circuit is basically unridable given this decision.

They are sighting safety concerns for this, but that is a complete joke as, as far as I'm aware there have been no documented incidents involving riders and another party there. I spoke to the Mayor on Wednesday night who admits this isn't an issue as he is aware of "only one incident in 5 (or is that 10?) years" (he wasn't sure of the timeframe).

Please take a look at the closed sections on the map (and you note the map says that 'Penalties Apply') and steer clear of these tracks.

Reading the release it seems this will be discussed at an extraordinary meeting of the council Mar 23 to discuss this. I'd advise anyone with interest in riding Manly Dam to attend. You might also like to email or call councillors (their contact details are available on Warringah's Elected Council page) with your views on this.

Please see the attached map, and full press release below:

Manly Dam Reserve media release

For those wishing to write to council, here's a handy list of addresses to copy/paste:,,,,,,,,,

Or click here to email them all.

philberesford's picture

I can't believe that this happened. This has come from out of nowhere, no warning, no nothing. It's unfathomable to comprehend. I'm speechless!

Dazza's picture

This is a joke! First Oxford Falls and now the Dam. I have been obeying the closed trails for years now, waiting patiently for Council to come to their senses, but now I really don't see any other choice as there is no way I am going to stop riding.

Don't they see that by closing down the only decent trail in the area, MTB riders will just head back to the other previously closed areas or start building their own tracks?

If they expect us to obey closed areas then they must give a little in return. Now there is nothing I for one will be heading back to my old favorites at Oxford falls.

herzog's picture

I just don't think this ban will work - they are trying to "put the genie back in the bottle".

The "genie" in this case is an MTB circuit of international significance. The father of mountain biking, Gary Fisher even visited the Dam on a press tour in Australia.

What about the hundreds of riders from all over sydney who turn up at the dam every weekend to test their skills?

This is like banning surfing at Fairy Bower because there are rocks there. Crazy crazy stuff.

Little-Ditty's picture

It sounds like the Mayor, whether happy or not, made the final decision to close these shared single-track sections of the trail. My email will be going to him...

manlydamnodabs's picture

I am the Mayor of Manly dam. As Mayor of Manly Dam I should have been consulted about this and find it completely unacceptable, Warringah Council, that you've neglected your duty to do so. The Dam is my manor and before any closure of any section is deemed acceptable, the community of people that actually use the tracks should be consulted. This behaviour is pussy behaviour. Sneaky, back room decision making. Stand up and face the crowd, we're here, waiting for you. I suggest we cage fight for it with the sandal and sock wearers!

beroccaboy's picture

was there a clue in the email ... do they want something ... something from the state ... money ... or volunteers to build the track maybe ...

norco_vic's picture

Virginia Laugesen and Vincent De Luca have taken the time to reply to my email... they are in opposition to the ban and have stated that they are fighting to overturn the decision.

It looks like there is someone within the council that took a power trip.

Quotes from Virginia and Vincent's emails i received are as follows:

"It is one of the Mayor and Council Staff. Several Councillors have expressed concern as to how this decision can be made and a Media Release issued stating it's a Council decision when the Council has not voted on it!"

"The decision to close the circuit track from 12 February, was emailed to councillors late that day at the same time it went to the media and online. Councillors did NOT vote on the track’s closure, nor were we given the chance to do so. This seems to be a turnaround on the briefing’s advice. It was my understanding no changes to the tracks would be made until we were presented with a report of four options...

Because it was my NoM, raised with good intentions to preserve and improve the volunteer work structure, and because it has so alarmingly backfired, I will prepare a statement for the media to set the record straight..."

There are councillors that are on our side guys...

unicycle6869's picture

Here is the letter my fiance just wrote to all the above emails:

Dear Council,

I am writing to you today to express my concern regarding the closing of the Manly dam bike track. I am a regular rider there and it breaks my heart to hear that such a great trail is threatened. One of the reasons Manly is so fantastic is because of the wonderful nature that you have preserved. It is a world class trail just minutes from the city. Your actions are making mountain bikers ride on a main road that is constantly busy with traffic. This could very well in turn create major traumas and accidents for bike riders and motorists. I hate to see the day when I read in the paper that a mountain biker was injured or even killed because of the decision you have made. Since there are already numerous hiking trails around the dam isn't fair to leave at least one bike trail?

I hope the decision to close the trail will be examined and reversed as soon as possible.

Thank you kindly

Gigi Edgley

unicycle6869's picture

And the email I sent them:

To whom it may concern,
I was just informed on the decision to close parts of the world class Manly Dam mountain bike track. I was speechless when I first found out and do not enjoy any type of negative energy like this. I'm having a hard time trying to understand the reasoning, but from what I have heard it's due to safety issues?! As far as I know (correct me if I'm wrong) there has only been one accident on the Manly Dam mountain bike track in like 5 or 10 years. If that is the case it's really hard for me to understand why you would close it for safety reasons. Furthermore, by closing the sections you are forcing riders mountain bikers to ride on the busy roads and making the track more dangerous therefore not putting safety first. Can someone please help me understand what is going on?

I actually use the trail for mountain unicycling. Yes it's a legit sport and I'm currently 10th in the world at it as the international championships were just held in Wellington, NZ a few weeks ago. I've only been living in Sydney for a year now but every week I try to ride the Manly Dam loop at least once or twice. It's a great way to stay in shape and be outside with nature not to mention safe and fun. Every time I have friends visit, I take them to the dam and they all absolutely love it. This is the only decent trail around the Sydney area and I would have to drive more than an hour or two away to ride anything if this trail was closed. I do not want to pollute the world any more than I have to and hope that the decision to close certain tracks can be reversed.

Could new trails be built so we have one for walkers and one for bikers? Could signs be posted warning walkers that bikes often use the trail so keep an eye out for them? Since there is already a walking trail around the dam, could this be a dedicated trail only to bikers? Then you wouldn't have to worry about any biker/walker accidents. I think this is the best solution as I said before there are already many walking track around the dam, but now no biking tracks. There has to be a solution to this problem and the sooner the better. If someone could please get back to me regarding this I would appreciate it. Please let me know what I can do to help reverse the closing of the Manly Dam bike track. Thanks for your time.

Jamey Mossengren

Now, I'm going to try and get some of my muni friends to help out...on the unicyclists forums....

herzog's picture

If anyone has the right connections, Cadel Evans could be a great advocate on this.

He's a mountain biker from way back, and is very vocal on cycling issues and other matters (like Tibet).

pieboy98's picture

This is a joke

Makes my move back home to NZ even more valid!!
Not only is there tracks everywhere, they atleast promote the sport!!!
And with Rotorua only 2 hrs from AKL, a day trip to the best single track in the world is well worth it!!

Wasn't there more bikes sold than cars in 2009 in OZ???
Should be a good enough reason to open more trails not close them down!!
Looks like Appin, Awaba, Ourimbah and Yellowmundee will be getting more of a work out,
have fun sitting in traffic getting there

Hope the Council and the govt pull their heads out of the sand and sort this out

Little-Ditty's picture

I just noticed that the 'pro-cycling' and fast talking Honourable Mr Tony Abbott MP is the federal member for Warringah. We can also see what his office has to say about this decision.

rangie's picture

My email to all the above; rob thanks for collecting all addresses in one line with copy too:-)

I write with reference to recent media release (late friday) in what appears to be a decision made by the mayor.

It also appears the decision wasn't actually a council decision as it has not been voted on by council.

Can you please note
1. our strong protest at said decision,
2. manner in which information was released (date/time etc)
3. advise on process said decision was made
4. rationale of said decision*

*Appears to be claiming safety as an issue, which in itself is patently laughable. Can you for example please provide me with the number of incidents which have occured in the last 5 years ?

A concerned rate payer who is incensed by the manner in which riders are being treated and the lack of facilities afforded to cyclists in general. Additionaly, please note riders (certainly in these parts) own cars too, and obviously vote !

I am liking the idea of a slow ride around at peak hour but not a good way to get the general public onside. Hmmmm....perhaps i will take my gas gussling 4wd for a slow drive around.....better wait until steam clears Sad

CB's picture

Sent to all the Warringah councillors .....


It is with great unease that I read the recent media release from Warringah Council regarding the closure of significant parts of the Manly Dam multi use track to cyclists.

As a local resident, ratepayer and voter ( ... mountain biker, bushwalker, environmentalist etc. etc.) I have a number of concerns regarding this development and would like to register my objection in the stongest terms. I am sure that a number of you will be equally opposed to this move and I urge you to voice your opposition also.

To attempt to promote this move to your constituents as ‘ putting safety first’ is at best negligently uninformed and at worst, wilfully misleading.

My understanding is that the singletrack areas in question are being closed to mountain bikers because of safety concerns, presumably the danger of ‘conflict’ between riders and walkers. The trails in question have been used extensively by mountain bikers and walkers for years without any significant problems ( have there have been a spate of serious accidents sometime in the last couple of days which I missed ? ). The fact that an age old, arcane bureaucratic bungle has come to light plays no part in the safety or otherwise of the trails in question. To suggest that it does is frankly laughable however the media release from Warringah Council states in it’s headline :

Warringah Council puts safety first!

Warringah Council has put the brakes on bike riding for safety reasons ......

It certainly makes our council appear to be acting very responsibly ( although the pun in the second line is cringeworthy). However, if we look at the actual proposal, we can see that it is in fact quite the opposite.

By forcing riders off of the track ( in three places) and onto roads, the risk of accident is in fact significantly increased. To look only at one of these situations, mountain bikers would be required to either ride on the wrong side of Wakehurst Parkway or cross the flow of traffic twice then ride alongside vehicles travelling in excess of 70km/h. Both of these options present clear opportunities for ‘conflict’. How this can be putting safety first is simply beyond me. Perhaps council are proposing to build a cyclepath or install some safe crossing system for cyclists however I suspect that this is not the case. Please note that many people ride the dam with their kids and would not consider letting them cycle along this particular stretch of road. Just one more small victory for the Xbox and Wii.

A second concern is that by forcing mountain bikers onto the adjacent roads, they will cause a significant inconvenience to drivers. Manly Dam is one of the most popular mountain bike locations in Australia and on weekends it plays host to hundreds of riders each day. Even on weekdays it is riden by significant numbers. Having this many riders trying to cross and then re-cross Wakehurst Parkway is a recipie for traffic delays and frustration.

My third concern is that the closing of these trails is supposedly a ‘ risk mitigation’ action to prevent council being held liable for any injuries which happen on the singletrack. If this is the case, it strikes me as a truly callous action. As mentioned previously, the new proposed route is clearly less safe than the current route. So, more accidents will happen but that won’t bother council as it won’t be happening on their property ! I’m sure the person hit by a truck while trying to cross the Parkway could make a case that it was a failure in councils duty of care that led to them being on the road to begin with.

Issue four regards the apparent disregard for the sterling work done recently by many of the stakeholders ( both in council, crown and NPWS controlled areas) to come together and try to create a truly sustainable network of trails which provide recreational facilities for a broad range of users. While this planning is by definition long term, I hoped that in a few years my children would have a well designed, sustainable and legal place to ride their bikes. Unlike adults, they cannot put their bike in the car and trek to the central coast for the day. Given the immense popularity of mountain biking and its continuing growth, surely we should be finding ways to provide more facilities for off road riding rather than closing down the very few which already exist.

Lastly I would like to say that examples of authorities and communities embracing the benefits of mountain biking are plentiful and are growing substantially with each passing month. Just not anywhere near here ...We constantly hear of new trail networks being opened in places such as Melrose, Eagle Park, Forrest, Mudi Bindi etc. It is notable that contrary to the trend in the rest of Australia ( and the rest of the world...) our local representatives seem intent on trying to discourage mountain bike usage ( and the plethora of health and commerce benefits they can bring).

In conclusion, I believe the proposed measures will significantly reduce safety, increase inconvenience to traffic and have no effect whatsoever on the councils exposure to liability. In each case this runs contrary to councils stated intentions.
The cynical among us would suggest that this contradiction hints at an underlying intent to remove mountain bikers completely from the dam trails. Not being cynical, I would assume that if council wished this, they would be happy to present their case ( with statistics) as part of an open, wide ranging and honest debate.... the sort conspicuously absent from last Tuesday evenings council meeting.

I look forward to responses which might clarify individual councillors positions on this matter as it will be the deciding factor in determining where my vote goes at the next election.


Craig Burns
(Address supplied)

Now for one to the state reps and ministers....


GiantNut's picture

One of the main issues cited by council is that walkers and bikes share the path and the potential for conflict ( what about surfers) anyway - simple solution - Ban walkers. There are millions of kilometers of walking tracks in OZ. But very few designated MTB tracks, almost none in Sydney basin.
Ban walkers - problem solved.
Over the years, no matter what time of day i ride I will run into other riders I can count on one hand the number of walkers I have seen in the last 2 years in these two area's - most walkers seem to use the golf course or the millions of kays of roads/tracks/beaches/trails open to them.

philberesford's picture
Dear Mayor, Councilors and Honorable Members of Parliament
I write to you in response to the recent closure of access to Mountain Bikes to certain sections of Manly Warringah War Memorial Park, commonly known as Manly Dam.

I am a rate paying resident of Manly Vale and was shocked to learn of what appears to have been a knee-jerk decision by Warringah Council yesterday without any engagement of stakeholders concerned. I understand the position that Council have been faced with, the need to react to a previous bureaucratic error regarding safety, that has ultimately led to part of its closure. No doubt Council aren't happy with the decision they have been forced to take but had no other option but to close The Dam until a solution can be found. It's disheartening to read in the Press Release dated 12.02.10 (attached) that it could take 6 months before a solution can be found.

I've considered myself very lucky all these years for having such a great natural resource available on my very doorstep. So much so in fact that I take the opportunity to ride around Manly Dam every weekend and again during the week. Not once have I ever encountered walkers along the sections that have been identified as unsafe and not once have I encountered any natural part of the trail which could considered unsafe. The only sections I would consider to be 'unsafe' have always been at the hands of so-called Council improvements. These improvements that Council consider to be safe, we the Mountain Bike community do not. I refer to the recent works done on the section running from Allambie down to the Manly Hydro Works where large timber steps with sharp pointy corners have been put in place adjacent to a twisting downhill boardwalk section than can be tricky to negotiate in damp conditions. This has been identified amongst the MTB community as the scariest 'improvement' Council have made to date. Yet Council are apparently happy that this section is considered to be classified safe. That's just one example.

The MTB community is fully aware that our sport is met with certain safety aspects which to the average layman could be seen as either dangerous or unsafe. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our rider base is largely made up of individuals 30yrs+ we value our health and certainly have enough commonsense between us to identify what is safe and what is not. We certainly do not appreciate it when The State decides it for us. Indeed we all practice the philosophy of riding within our limits. Like any sport we occasional feel the need to test this limit and improve our level of skill and this is why we enjoy our sport so much. But this does not render our activities unsafe. This 'nannying' approach isn't appreciated and sadly it could introduce undesirable side effects between Mountain Bikers, Park Rangers, motorists and non-biking residents alike if it isn't resolved in a timely fashion. We want to be working together with you on this issue. Please engage with us.

Naturally I could go on about the health, environmental and economic benefits of bike riding, but you don't need me to tell you how much fun and environmentally responsible riding bikes can be and the positive effect it has on local business. It saddens me to know that I now have to get in my car and unnecessarily increase my carbon footprint and drive to other locations to ride a bike. Or, worse still, be forced to ride alongside The Wakehurst Parkway against the flow of traffic of cars traveling in excess of 80km's an hour. Now that really is unsafe.

Manly Dam is the most popular area in Sydney for recreational Mountain Biking and by default would be fair to argue it as the most popular spot in the whole of Australia. It has been recognised by Mountain Bike publications all over The World as THE premium destination for Mountain Biking in Sydney. A reputation that is not easily earned, but would appear could be easily lost. Warringah Council will need to employ and I dare say at cost to the rate payer a very good PR firm to spin away the bad publicity that this decision will unfortunately create.

I hope we can draw a quick solution to this.

Thank you to Simone Savic at Warringah Council for informing me of the latest developments.

Kind regards
Phil Beresford
A concerned resident, Manly Vale

Little-Ditty's picture

Here is my email to Mayor Regan:

** Email **

Dear Mayor Regan,

I am an avid mountain bike rider and a weekly user of the Manly Dam bike trail. I have used this trail since I was introduced to mountain biking by a friend about 4 years ago, who incidentally also still rides there. My girlfriend Carolin Skipka also rides this trail less frequently but is still a trail user. I may also mention that I have participated more than once in the past during the various trail building/maintenance days organised by the Rangers, which proved extremely successful and popular amongst the mountain biking community. It ensured that we continue to enjoy a sustainable riding trail.

The purpose of my email is to communicate my dismay at Warringah Council's recent decision to close shared single-track sections of the trail due to safety concerns. Although I can agree with a Council's decision to cover their public liability for accidents, I have never even heard of a bike rider colliding with or injuring a pedestrian on this trail. In regards to liability, hurt riders themselves would not be interested in speaking to the Council as we all ride at our own risk. Surely any decision to close the trail would require some consultation from all the interested parties rather than unilateral action of this sort? Councillors have already intimated to other enquiring bike riders (some who are Warringah rate payers) that there was little consultation in this decision and that they already knew this decision would infuriate the mountain biking community.

Is the Council aware of exactly how many riders use this trail in a week? Literally a hundred per weekday and several hundred per day on a weekend. By keeping the full length of the trail open you are promoting a healthy lifestyle and also generating patronage to local businesses. I travel from Cremorne to ride Manly Dam so I also sometimes use local eateries like Goody's. Bike users frequent bike stores like Bike Addiction, Manly Cycles and the Brookvale Bike Factory. I have personally spent thousands of dollars in these stores - all in your electorate - and many people I know have spend ten's of thousands. This money sustains a local economy which you are tasked with overseeing, generating local jobs which you, in part, are responsible for creating. All these factors are linked, so by removing access to this trail you are jeapordising this fine balance. Should riders continue to be excluded from the entirety of the Manly Dam trail, they will simply take their participation someplace else.

Rather than simply closing the trail to riders, perhaps a better solution may be to post signs, forwards and backwards, that clearly communicate to trail users that they should look out for eachother and that they use the trail at their own risk? The current signs are unobtrusive, green coppers logs that could be improved to get trail user's attention. Or a second idea may be getting riders to provide the Council with a written waiver before continuing to ride the trail at their own risk which your Rangers would be welcome to police? Then the Council covers themselves against these riders' liability and the riders get to use the entire trail.

Please be advised that this complaint will also be sent to the Honourable Mr Tony Abbott MP.

I hope the Council can come to some kind of sensible compromise that will achieve the satisfaction of all trail users.

Thank you for your time.

Liam Linstid and Carolin Skipka
Personal address removed


Glen's picture

Just got a response from my email to the organisers of Mont24hr. Allan has been kind enough to put links up to Nobmob and advertise the ride on the 6th March. They are also going to spread the news in their next newletter.

hawkeye's picture

around 19th Hole, but no evidence of rangers at the time i walked my bike through.

What A PITA that was. Slippery boards, wearing out my cleats, needed to use the brakes on the bike to steady myself to avoid slipping over on the wooden boards and tree roots. Riding would have been safer.

Imagine doing this for 1.2km though the Golf Course section. Yeah, right. Sad

I've just posted a bunch of photos (in duplicate Sad ) so you can see what to expect.

edmond's picture

Here is a great article that may help some of you with your letters..

kitttheknightrider's picture

may I suggest that anyone that has voting rites within this electorate, be it on a local, state or federal level, end all correspondence with the above

"I ride, I vote"

No harm in letting them know this is an issue that will sway your vote come election time

Andy Bloot's picture

I've had 4 responses from my email
They would mostly be a cut and paste, but they did take the time at least to draft a good response
Of course, all these people are against the decision
Those few who made the decision (there was no vote on it) will be too gutless to respond

Anyway, it's the old safety/ litigation issue again
I can't see how diverting onto W'hust p'way would be considered safer
But I guess that's not their problem, is it

I'm not being patronising, but I do feel sorry for you guys who do so much to keep these people on side
Only to get kicked in the nuts
It's insulting and demorilizing. It's just bloody offensive.

You've gotta fight the power, you've gotta fight the powers that be

Andy Bloot's picture

Clog their inboxes
Use as many computers as you can find to send an email
Ask questions in your email
Send more than one email (they won't remember you)
I have 3 email addresses at my home
Reply to the response you get
Tie up their resources and waste their time
Attach large files to your email (try and make it relevant) to further clog their inboxes
Attach a hi-res photo or three of a happy day at the dam
Frustrate them and waste their time

edmond's picture


That sounds like a great way to piss of the very people who will help us with this issue. They didnt vote on this, it was done by some unknown person in Council.

Stay civil. Write a clear and intelligent letter. Work with these people not against them.

Besides.. half of these people seem to be using hotmail / yahoo / gmail so the idea of "clogging" their email server seems unlikely.

Scott's picture

Yup, clogging the inbox of anyone on Council will fast track you to the serial campaigner category and get you no where. Write in ONCE and leave it to the process. You will likely get a generic reply, but that is to be expected. What counts is that you have logged your interest in having the Dam reopened.

And 'tie up the resources' as Andy suggests just keeps another public servant employed (not that I am against that). These people have no requirement to reply to you in a fast time frame. Please be civil.

hawkeye's picture

They now have a power legislated under the Local Government Act that gives them the ability to "manage" their interactions with you if satisfy certain criteria.

This is definitely one way to get yourself classified as a nuisance. All your interactions will be instantly devalued and gives them a legitimate excuse to ignore you.

I don't think this helps.

You'd be better off researching what each councillor's interests and hot buttons are and framing your responses in terms of how helping us helps them. Don't assume! Do your homework.

bear1lit's picture

I logged onto nobmob to see what the status of the track was like after the recent weather only to discover this terrible news. I discovered Manly Dam when I first moved to Sydney and lived on the Northern Beaches 10 years ago. Work has since seen me move around the State a bit but Manly Dam is still the track that I ride most often in Sydney. I ride responsibly, I slow down on the rare occasions that I see bushwalkers, I don't ride the track when it is boggy, and I keep off illegal tracks, and despite all that we're still faced with what is effectively a closure of the track. I'm not interested in taking my chances on the Wakehurst Parkway and by taking out the most enjoyable stretch of single track it takes away the reason why we ride it in the first place. I'll be doing my part to write letters to the local councillors and members of parliament expressing my displeasure and explaining the benefits that visiting MTB riders bring to small business owners in the area.

cambowambo's picture

...on King Street near the car park at Manly Hydraulics Lab.

We were covered in mud and he observed that we had just finished riding, then asked "did you notice that sections of the track are closed?" and we replied "yes".

He didn't ask if we had ridden those closed sections and didn't offer any other information - just drove off.

Sinkes's picture

I'm sure this will sort it selves out. This is a knee jerk reaction to an incident that rarely or never occurs. We as MTB's are mature adults and this requires a careful response submitted to the councilers.

Nobody in there right mind listens when they are abused or threatened.


We need to focus on the issues they have been raised and submit a summary which is fair that will allow the council to view our point of view.
Our rules as riders are as follows.......thank Rob,
Most Importantly - Safety!
Remember this is just for fun, so don't take it too seriously!
Slow down for walkers.
Stop and dismount for horses.
Respect all other trail users.
We all know that on this portion of the track, there are little or no walkers, hence there safety aspect has little relevance.
Good luck and be polite when emailing.
With all this said, I'm sure the council will reverse the decision.....sooner rather than later.


harry 668's picture

Just wondering if anyone else notied that this whole thing came up soon after a typically sensationalist article in the SMH before xmas concerning the potential for injury to walkers in the Manly Dam network? Comment was sought from NPWS and MTB Australia in the article, neither of whom saw an issue, but the attitude of the article remained the same, that MTB was a dangerous and irresponsible sport, that shouldnt take place in a dual use area like Manly Dam. The author's chief anti MTB respondent was, as usual, a representative from the National Parks Association, the mob who believe the only use a NP should be put to is walking, preferably in long socks and tevas. In addition to bombarding local councilors, MTB riders should also bombard the SMH about the rampantly anti-bike stance, from this type of article to the extremely anti-bike cartoon they published in the summer addition, the SMH have taken a very unbalanced stance on riding and MTB in particular. Write to them. Put our points!
In addition, I agree with a comment above- ban walkers from the single track, there's plenty of alternatives for them in the dam, kilometres actually, which riders cannot use. Why us and not them?

Nick R's picture

how many would have complained - given it was rarely used by walkers.

Rob's picture

Cunningly, the end section of the track has not been affected by this action. He probably assumed you were just riding there.

lorrie's picture

My main thought was to keep it short as they are bombarded with emails etc and also to let them know that we wil work together for a good outcome to all.


I am just writing to share my sadness at the closure of the Manly Dam Singletrack.

I do want to add my voice to those already voiced, however my question is "How can we work together in the future to ensure that this remains open?" As you are well aware of Mountain Bikers are passionate about their sport and will certainly volunteer their time and efforts in a worthwhile manner.

I hope this issue can be resolved in the best interests of all parties.

Andrew Lai

Brian's picture

Email sent

O's picture

Between the Husky Enduro being called off and now this it hasn't been a great weekend for MTB'ing.

lorrie's picture

got some excellent responese

Virginia Laugesen

Dear Andrew,

Thanks for your email. I fully understand your reaction and your sadness about this. I am the councillor who brought a Notice of Motion to council to reinstate mountain bike volunteer days, which were abandoned 1-2 years ago.

See item 12.7 of:

My NoM was deferred to a briefing. During its preparation, council staff discovered the technicality in the 1998 Plan of Management – that the 1.2km section of track near Wakehurst Pwy (and now other sections) have never had permission for bikes. Without consultation, the briefing’s topic changed direction from: how can we reinstate volunteers? to: is mountain biking ‘legal’ at Manly Dam?

At the 9 February 2010 ordinary meeting, my original NoM was to be resubmitted. I spent the time since the briefing of the week before preparing an amendment (about volunteering) that I believed would be a compromise to suit bikers, environmentalists and council staff. Not perfect for any one party, but better than nothing, under the circumstances. The expectation was that four options for the future of bikes at the dam would come to us for voting, at the 23/2 meeting – separate to my NoM.

The decision to close the circuit track from 12 February, was emailed to councillors late that day at the same time it went to the media and online. Councillors did NOT vote on the track’s closure, nor were we given the chance to do so. This seems to be a turnaround on the briefing’s advice. It was my understanding no changes to the tracks would be made until we were presented with a report of four options (originally 23/2 but now 23/3, see below).

Because it was my NoM, raised with good intentions to preserve and improve the volunteer work structure, and because it has so alarmingly backfired, I will prepare a statement for the media to set the record straight, along the same lines as this email.

I apologise that this matter has been taken out of hand and out of context, resulting in this highly unexpected and upsetting outcome for local mountain bike riders.

Virginia Laugesen
Councillor for C Ward


From Vincent De Luca
Please be assured this is not a decision I have made! It is one of the Mayor, Michael Regan and Council Staff.

Several Councillors have expressed concern as to how this decision can be made and a Media Release issued stating it's a Council decision when the Council has not voted on it!

Council will vote on this important issue at the Council meeting on Tuesday week.

As always, my vote will be in accordance with what the community wants.


Vincent De Luca OAM
Warringah Councillor for 'A' Ward

Sent via BlackBerry® from Telstra

I just sent a reply back thanking them for their responses and offerring our services and support and got this back a few minutes later!

From Cllr Christina Kirsch
Dear Andrew,

Thank you for taking the time to write to council on this important issue.

I would just like to clarify that the decision to close the track was NOT made by the elected council but by council staff. We as councillors have not been allowed to have any say and, quite the opposite, myself and Virginia wanted to prevent the closure and leave the track accessible based on the 12 year precedent, whilst a new solution was found.

Virginia and myself have put forward a motion to reinstate the volunteers involved in track work under close supervision. Staff then suddenly realized that they had ignored the Plan of Management for 12 years and decided to close the track. I am opposed to the closure, but the decision did not come to a vote by the elected council.

Virginia and myself are trying to revert this asap, but we are handicapped because Cr Falinski put forward a motion to reduce our council meetings from fortnightly to monthly, which was unfortunately supported by the majority of councillors (see meeting minutes online at Warringah council's webpage for details on votes). This means that we have fewer opportunities where we as elected council can have some input into the strategic direction and can attempt to change decisions made by council staff.

The track will come back on the 23rd February to an extraordinary meeting. But staff do not allow us to have a public forum, which we normally have at council meetings, and which allows the public to address council. I am considering wearing a gag in protest.
You may still want to attend the meeting which will start at 6 pm.



PS: Virginia and myself are trying to get the Ride2school program (see google) up in Warringah for a ride to school day on 17th March in order to encourage more kids and parents to cycle to school - your support would be appreciated!

Little-Ditty's picture

Here is my email submission asking for help from Tony Abbott MP, in case he had not heard already:


Dear Mr Abbott,

I know you are an avid cyclist, so I was hoping I could count on the support of you and your office with a recent problem that has arisen with the Warringah Council. On Friday 12th February, the Warringah Council has suddenly blocked cyclist access to the shared single-trail (riders and walkers) on the Manly Dam loop due to supposed "safety" concerns. This, despite there never having been any accidents between cyclists and pedestrians on this trail. I have ridden the trail for over 4 years and have not heard of a single accident with pedestrians.

Manly Dam is one of the most enjoyable and widely-used mountain bike trails in Australia. Hundreds of riders use this trail everyday, and to lose the use of the entire trail is a disaster to us. By closing sections of the trail, lots of riders are now forced to look elsewhere for their riding experience, or instead will be forced to bypass certain sections of the Manly Dam trail by riding next to 80km/h vehicles on the Wakehurst Parkway, which is not an acceptable alternative, particularly for younger children. Any resulting reduction in rider numbers will also mean less patronage of local businesses like food and bikes shops.

My email is firstly to bring this news to your attention, and secondly to ask if there was any help that you or your office could provide us in getting our trail re-instated for mountain bikers? As stated, the safety concern reason is ridiculous and a cop-out for possible other non-stated reasons, such as lobbying from walkers. Are you able to contact Mayor Michael Regan to attempt to sort out this matter?

I appreciate any help that you are able to provide your local mountain bike riding community.

Liam Linstid.

MarkkyMarkk's picture

What a joke, it'd be so funny if it wasn't for real.
I'm especially bummed because I pulled out of riding a loop on Friday due to the heat & now I have to wait at least 6 months.
Absolutely absurd!!!

My Email sent to the Mayor & Councillors ------------------------------------------

RE: Media Release "Warringah Council Puts Safety First" 12/10/2010‏

Dear Mayor/Councillors,

I'm extremely concerned about the mixed messages that Warringah Council is sending to the bicycling community.

Last week I was reading through Council's Draft Cycling Plan (thinking to myself how fantastic) & was having some regrets that I have only recenlty moved north to Pittwater after living for 40 years in Warringah.

And then suddenly without warning, Council decides to close down sections of the Manly Dam trail, citing technicalities in the POM & safety. And furthermore - it will take 6 months to rectify!!!

Quite simply - this is an extremely unreasonable over-reaction to impose upon the bicycling community.

Could you please explain:
1) Why these sections of track have not been designated for cycling use and this issue has not come to light in over 10 years since the POM was adopted;
2) How forcing cyclists onto Wakehurst Parkway with 80km/h traffic in their safety interests.

Please lift the track closures immediately under some interim measures until the issues within the POM can be rectified.


Mark Turnbull
(Address Supplied)

ido09s's picture

With any luck the Rangers may start to see the number of walkers with pets off their leash and start fining them for it Smiling I dont know about anyone else but i regularly pass walkers with dogs on the loose while traveling along the fire trails

nrthrnben's picture

Not sure if this has been posted from warringahs website, this one has questions and answers. Obviously to try and stop people emailing and calling.

Hows this one:

Is the track still open to bush walkers?
Yes it is.

Hers a few of my own questions and hypothetical council responses

Is there a thousand walking trails open to bush walkers in warringah?
Yes there are.

Is there ANY legal single trail of significant distance open to mountain bikers in warringah? there isn't.

Do you think that is fair then to ban mtbers over walkers from the only available legal single trail, considering mountain bikers are clearly one of the top user group of the dam, there is plenty of alternate walking trails, it has been proven scientifically to be a sustainable practice and there is no evidence of safety risks
Well looking from that point of view..not really.

simmo's picture

Mike Bairds' response to to the emails that have been sent to him. He has already taken the issue up with the mayor.

"Hi Simon

Thank you for copying Mike in on your email to Council. Mike completely agrees with your concerns and is working to get Council to reverse the ban.

Below is a link to Mike's media release for more details.

Thanks again for sharing your views - we will keep you updated on the outcome.

kind regards

Lisa Harrington
Senior Adviser to Mike Baird, Member for Manly, Shadow Treasurer

trailburner's picture

this looks VERY promising - read the last paragraph from Cr Bob Giltinan J.P:

Dear Martin,

Thank you for your email. I fully understand your objections and concerns to the closure of the track sections at Manly Dam.

What many people don't realise is that the elected Council had nothing to do with the decision. I personally brought the issue up at last Tuesday's Council meeting. The safety board working on all areas of the community made the decision based on safety, liability and the law.

Moving forward, after much researching and communicating, it looks as though we may have found a way to reverse this decision at the Council meeting on the 23rd of February in favour of all mountain bikers!

kelpie's picture

Just thinking Aloud,

I have been riding the Dam for some 15+ years now and seen allot of changes as you can well imagine.
Unfortunately this is not the first brush with the warringah Council back in the early 90's we had the best part of 50 - 60 riders meet at the old ManlyVale hotel to organise a proposal to maintain the tracks and help implement codes of conduct, not surprisingly this was rejected and probably set the tone for their relationship with MTB riders ever since.

Maybe now that there is a bit of momentum it is time not only to push to access to the dam re-instated but also along the lines on Mt Stromlow in Canberra, several parks in and around Hobart as well as many other around the country to actually have Manly Dam officially recognised as a "recreation Area" and have some $$$$ pumped into it to develop it into a well run multi use area.

This would not only cater for riders but also walkers, runners and Families alike as in my opinion at the moment the area is a fantastic resource but doesn't really cater for any one user group particularly well.

Maybe what is needed is a committee of sorts to be formed made up of he various stakeholders and AIM for a really good result that will keep everybody Happy. (except perhaps all the do gooders that will always find something to complain about).

I am sure that there will be a few local politicians that will be happy to jump on board given that there are a few elections just around the corner.

The Dam is big enough for everyone it just needs to be managed properly.

BTW how can they close parts of the track that we the riders built? ie: wakehurst parkway section!!!!

nzogaz's picture

I am horrified to hear you people are having problems in your local patch with legal access. I have never ridden Manly Dam but I know a lot of people who have, and how important it is to them.
I see elsewhere on this excellent site that there are moves afoot to reverse the bungled process by which the trails got closed, but I thought I should weigh in anyway on a subject that is important to all of us, wherever we are.
Councils and other bureaucratic bodies are made up of elected and non-elected parties. the elected ones are very aware of how easy they can get un-elected. It is always worthwhile going along to council meetings and media and banging away at the situation. The demographics of mountain biking are a useful club to whack councillors over the head with: most people who ride mountain bikes for fun are tax paying or rates paying folk, who have jobs and incomes. They are adults, they are responsible (for the most part) and they vote. Make noise, badger them until they start to listen.

Good luck!

RobTheMighty's picture

Dear Councillors,

I just wanted to express my concern along with many others regarding the closure of access to mountain bike riders to an icon of the Sydney riding scene. It's an internationally known track that's been ridden for over 20 years. A healthy and enjoyable fitness experience for all who participate. For those who've experienced the scene, they'll find mountain bikers amicable, deferent and keen to share with all who might use the track.

As far as I'm aware there have been virtually nil legitimate safety related concerns with the track. In fact I know many people who've taken to using this great facility BECAUSE of it's high level of safety opposed to Wakehurst Pkwy and being forced into dangerous alternatives. It's actually a far safer - anyone with some riding experience will testify to this.

I don't wish to see the many who use it forced into riding illegally elsewhere (where else is there?) in a life-threatening environment - and wish to express my confidence in the due democratic process we enjoy in this country and I'm sure will be experienced in this matter.

Thank you for reading this email - I do appreciate your time


asha's picture

has anyone sighted an email from the mayor yet?
Maybe he is to busy walking/jogging the single track.

asha's picture

Hey all Please note.
My friend got an email from Virginia Laugesen, Councillor for C Ward.
My understanding is that we have to email the council again?
Here is the email....

Hi Bee

Here is my understanding of the time-frames, though this situation is
changing daily:

23 Feb

My mountain bike volunteer reinstatement NoM will come up on 23 Feb. I
intend to move an urgency motion that night if the matter hasn't been
resolved in the meantime, ie. fixed by the staff who created the
problem. I don't actually believe the elected council should have to
reverse a decision made in secrecy by the administration, but that's how
it's heading now.

23 March

The 23 March meeting is the date for a report to councillors for debate
and vote, of four options for the future of bikes at the Dam. Therefore,
both dates are valid for you to attend, in different ways. The report
would have been due on 23 Feb except the mayor's faction changed our
meeting cycle from fortnightly to monthly, postponing the next ordinary
meeting from 23 Feb to 23 March.

The 23 Feb date is now an extraordinary meeting, to deal with matters
missed from 9 Feb. It's very confusing, I know. I'm sorry it's all
become so complicated.


The agenda for 23 Feb should be online 18 February.

The agenda for 23 March, including the report of bike options, should be
online 16 or 17 March.

Public exhibition of options

The vote on 23 March will precede a paper going out to public
consultation - that's when you all need to respond again. Unfort, these
emails since 12 Feb (100+) won't officially count as protests or
submissions to the options report because they don't respond to an
exhibited document, rather, to justified objection and outrage at the
unreasonable bike track closure.

Current position (no reversal and no urgency motion)

The current position is that until all of the above is sorted out, the
tracks will remain closed. Ie. adding up the time from the 23 March
vote, preparation and publicity of the options paper plus at least 28
days' exhibition, then waiting for a staff report to compile all the
public comments, then a vote on staff's recommendation at the next
available ordinary meeting (which could be up to a month later, now that
the meeting cycle has been halved), you can see how it will take at
least 6 months before the track could be reopened, unless an urgency
motion is successful next week.

I hope this helps clear some confusion.


Virginia Laugesen
Councillor for C Ward
9400 3299
0437 499 959

Lach's picture

Sounds like there are maybe three more trigger points on which we could e mail councillors:

1. between now and next Tues., urging them to support Cllr Laugesen's urgency motion on 23 Feb (or else the tracks will remain closed indefinitely)
2. once the documents for the 23 March meeting are released and assessed, there is probably a need to correspond further to advise councillors how we think they should vote on any relevant items
3. responding to the call for public consultation on the 23 March plan (assuming it is released for public comment after that meeting)

Hard work this lobbying......

deRuyter's picture

I have sent a short but polite email to the listed councillors and have had some similar responses back.

I plan on being at the council meetings (at least outside on my bike giving them the stink eye!) as well as attending the ride on the 6th of March. Spreading the word to everyone I know.

Getting the press on side will be a huge help. Has anyone heard anything from the Manly Daily or SMH?

Someone mentioned getting in touch with Cadel Evans to get his support. Also maybe George Gregan who had a MTB video on the SMH not too long ago...

Yeti haha's picture

The majority of the councillors who I cc'd on my email have kindly taken the time to fully respond - I think the bulk of the responses have already been posted by others to this site
The concensus in these responses seems to be that they are mightily pissed off that this happen with no recourse to Council

Funnily enough, the Mayor, who was the only direct addressee has not bothered to reply.
He's probably busy planning on putting in parking meters at the hydro station!

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