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We're at least 6 years behind Brisbane!

jedijunglesnow's picture

By jedijunglesnow - Posted on 26 May 2010

I stumbled across the below on the worldwide intrawebs. Some really good points here on sustainable trails and access, all sounded very familiar, except that it's from 2004. Top that off some of the outcomes reached are stated to have taken 3 years to complete - that put's us almost 10 years behind what was achived working with Brisbane City Council !!

Good read, a few very relevant points that apply to us locally. No slides attached though, sorry...

Mountain Bike Riding on Public Land – The Struggle for Access in SE Qld
PowerPoint Presentation by Gillian Duncan
Third Australian Tracks and Trails Conference October 2004

Good morning everyone. Thank you for attending this session about mountain biking.

In Brisbane I live in the foothills of Mt Coot-tha Forest. Mt Coot-tha adjoins Brisbane Forest Park giving me 100’s of kms of trails to ride from my front door.

My son introduced me to mountain biking about 6 years ago and I’ve been riding in the forest ever since; every week without exception.

Today, this PowerPoint presentation will show what mountain bikers actually do, demonstrating the tensions between what we currently are allowed and what we want. We want to be recognised as a legitimate trail group, somewhat like walkers on wheels. We want more access to narrow tracks with specific features.

What is mountain biking? Slides 1-4
Slide 1
What is your perception of mountain biking? You may have ridden a mountain bike and from your experience you’ll have develop a preference, which will colour your perception.

This slide shows cyclists riding cross country in a bush setting on a dirt surface on bicycles with fat tyres. It could be a quiet country road. Is this mountain biking?

Slide 2
I ride this trail every week. It’s in Brisbane Forest Park, which is managed by Qld Parks and Wildlife Service as a Forest Reserve (at this stage, pending RFA tenure allocation.)

The extensive dirt road network is primarily maintained for management purposes. Happily for no extra cost, the roads are open to outdoor activities such as walking, horse riding and mountain biking. In other words, Brisbane Forest Park provides a multiuse trail network. This is probably the most commonly accepted perception of what mountain biking is and, in general, management roads are open for cross country mountain biking.

By the way, this is a posed photo of my son and I, Lisa Mathison and her father. This is definitely an unusual combination of mother and son, father and daughter.

Slide 3
Nightcap National Park, northern NSW. A popular multiuse trail takes us to special places and views.

Slide 4
This is a management road in Brisbane Forest Park. It is not open to mountain bikes. Access is restricted due to the protection of the water catchment. However it seems inequitable to me that there’s a lengthy walking track by the water’s edge, while cyclists are excluded from this management road. I personally can see no harm in a bicycle using this road. And in my role as an advocate for access I keep saying so whenever appropriate. Therefore it is not a blanket policy that all management roads are open to mountain biking.

Who mountain bikes? Slides 5 & 6
Slide 5 Multiuse trail, Mt Coot-tha Forest
Is this group “mum, dad and the kids”? No, that’s a myth. This is a posed photo perpetuating that myth. Mum, dad and the kids do not mountain bike together. The truth is we are individuals from a wide range of ages who choose to ride in heterogeneous groups. In this photo, the youngest is William who’s 10, Lindon is 15, Greg is 35 and I’m 45. We are not related. However, this is a reasonable reflection of the cross section of ages on a social ride.

I analysed participants at a cross country race. 20% were kids, half were in their 20’s and 30% were over 30. 10% overall are women. This spread of age groups at a race may not accurately reflect the right mix of recreational riders. More recreational riders are likely to be older.

Slide 6
This is a fair dinkum social ride in Brisbane Koala Bushland. It is no surprise to me that half of us are over 40.

By the way, this million dollar facility provides paved walking tracks and designated horse trails, but does not provide for mountain biking. Cyclists are excluded from a network of dirt roads that already exists here.

In this case Brisbane City Council has been slow to recognise mountain biking. We’re still considered a new user group even though we’ve actually been riding here for years. Legitimate access to Brisbane Koala Bushland is another righteous cause on my agenda as an advocate.

What do mountain bikers want? Slides 7 – 12
Slide 7
Compared to wide management roads, this double track has been left to return to a more natural state. Riding here feels closer to nature, more remote and adventurous.

Slide 8
You would have noticed this kind of single line on walking tracks. Like walkers, riders only need a narrow tread.

Slide 9 What riders want is more access to single track, similar to walking tracks.

Slide 10
Kids, and even novices enjoy single track. Brisbane City Council has recently approved this mountain bike trail at Mt Coot-tha Forest.

Slide 11
Peter is an advocate for mountain bike access and he’s 66. Nerang State Forest is the only location in the entire Gold Coast region where mountain biking can occur. This is one of two approved single tracks. In many urban forests, there are many more single tracks that have not yet been sanctioned.

Riders want single track to be accepted and a satisfying network to be provided in areas close to where they live.

The single track experience feels very close to nature. The trail surface is rough; grabs your attention and tests your skill. Single track is generally safer than management roads because the twists, turns and obstacles slow the rider down.

Mountain bike riders enjoy a mix of experiences: wide track, narrow track, changing scenery, views. Typically we ride often, prefer to ride for 2-3 hours and cover 20-30km.

Mountain bike single track raises issues for land managers.
Firstly, environmental issues. Slides 13 – 19
“Build it and they will come, don’t build it and they will.”
(World Mountain Bike Conference on Sustainability, Vancouver 2004

Slide 13
This unofficial single track was created by riders, in Daisy Hill State Forest. The ranger in charge wanted to close the track because it was not sanctioned; it was narrow and ran through a regionally significant ecosystem in a riparian zone.

The totem sign is a regulatory notice saying ‘closed to everyone’ with a $150 penalty for riding passed it. However, this was the most popular track in the forest, regularly used. Closure was ineffective until innovative management was tried.

The ranger met with representatives of the local mountain bike club. He wanted to provide a single track experience (as he had recently discovered the joys of riding) and wanted to solve the environmental issues. He suggested re-routing the trail out of the sensitive area. The riders suggested improving the trail design to ensure the trail was more sustainable, yet still enjoyable.

Slide 14
The re-route surfs the contour and is armoured at a sandy corner. This new Tunnel of Love is just as popular.

The riders helped cover over the old track, which remains closed.

Slide 15
We won some and lost some in the process of track rationalization at Daisy Hill.
Part of this unofficial single track was on an erodible, steep slope and no alternative re-route was possible. Riders helped cover the track and it remains closed today.

Slide 16
The same cooperative approach has been used at Bunyaville State Forest, a urban forest completely surrounded by suburbia. This track is a series of switchbacks. It was selected by the ranger in charge to be opened as a mountain bike single track as it provides access to other multiuse trails and is not in a sensitive area.

Slide 17
Over several hard sessions where riders and rangers worked side by side, the switchbacks were repaired. Deep erosion scars were filled and several water diversion measures installed.

Slide 18 Water diversion logs.

Slide 19
Tony Scott from Mountain Bike Australia has invited IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) to conduct trail design workshops in Australia during 2001 and 2003. Another IMBA visit is planned for 2005. We are training ourselves in trail design.

As the peak mountain biking advocacy group in the world, IMBA has a vast collection of resources on the website

Providing for mountain biking on public land requires riders and land managers to work together to develop understanding of each other’s point of view. When cooperation and trust develop, there will be mutual management of mountain bike trails.

Mountain bike single track raises issues about hazards on the track. Slides 20-26

Slide 20
Nirvana is one of the best known mountain bike tracks in the region. Nirvana was created by a rider, without permission. To cross this gully he laid a narrow plank about 3 metres in length. Later he added a second one. The two planks flexed quite independently creating a hazard, which resulted in many riders crashing down the gully. The ranger in charge saw it, calculated his exposure to being sued and said, “Close this track now!”

Several solutions were considered including a timber bridge estimated to cost 1000’s of dollars. The following weekend 6 riders and 2 rangers created this benched crossing in 3 hours. A win-win situation. The trail is open and the rangers were saved the trouble of building a timber bridge.

Slide 21
Rock sections on a track are desirable. Rock is a natural feature, wears well and adds interest to the track. However, if walking track standards are applied, this rough rock surface does not fit.

Slide 22
This rock feature is on a track in Rotorua, New Zealand where there’s a mountain bike park of hand crafted single tracks. There is nothing like this in Australia.

Slide 23
Fallen trees are common on the track and desirable. Bicycles can easily roll over them.

Slide 24
Rough, eroded and worn tracks are also interesting.

There are two lines here. The centre line is the hardest while the left hand line is easy. A mountain bike track can offer the option of a challenging obstacle as an alternative route on an otherwise easy trail.

Slide 25
A berm is a fun feature and specifically appropriate for a rolling wheel.

Slide 26
A bridge over a metre from the ground would normally require handrails. For cyclists, they are a hazard.

Rocks, fallen trees and rough surfaces are desirable design features but they increase hazards on the track. None of these features can be assessed according to walking track standards.
How would you deal with this?

Brisbane City Council is partway through the process of managing mountain biking. Slides 27-31

Slide 27
Gap Creek Reserve within Mt Coot-tha Forest is a premier mountain biking location and has become increasingly popular over the last 10 years. The Council though had not officially recognised this, until very recently. It has taken over three years for a management plan to be finalised.

Slide 28 The Plan designates 30km multiuse trails. This sign is exceptional because a mountain bike is on the sign! We are at last legitimate visitors.

Slide 29 The Plan also designates 18km of walking only tracks and 12km exclusive use mountain bike tracks. To manage social conflict on narrow tracks, walkers and riders are kept totally separate. This sign is remarkable because single track has been accepted!

Slide 30
A small group of riders participated in a process to select which existing single tracks were to be included. Tracks were assessed on several criteria acceptable to Brisbane City Council.
Did the track:
- provide access from surrounding suburbs
- contribute to a popular network
- comply with IMBA recommendations for a sustainable track regarding overall gradient, soil type and durability.
- disturb sensitive ecosystems

Slide 31
Brisbane City Council has printed a free brochure called Mt Coot-tha Forest Track Map. This shows a satisfying network of wide and narrow cross country trails. Riders now know where they can go and subsequently I have noticed very high compliance. Riders stay on the designated path. This is the first step in effective management of mountain biking.

Brisbane City Council is in the process of developing educational material to manage potential social conflict on shared trails, environmental impact and risk. There are many codes of conduct and they generally refer to respecting others by sharing the trail, respecting the environment by leaving no trace and minimizing risk by being prepared and riding within your ability.

Brisbane City Council has appointed a mountain bike trail coordinator to set up trail care groups to regularly work on the single tracks. Single tracks need a regular work schedule for repair, redesign and maintenance. This is best done in consultation with riders. As you have seen, our single tracks are not like the walking tracks that rangers are used to working on.

Slide 32
This totem sign is the only one I’ve seen in south east Qld with a give way sign, trail grading symbol and a directional arrow. The give way sign embodies respect for others. It means slow down, establish communication and pass with care.

The grading symbol is borrowed from skiing where green circle, blue square and black diamond represent easy, moderate and difficult trails. This is an important component in providing a safe mountain bike experience within the limits of an activity that is inherently risky.

An important step in managing mountain biking is to provide free educational material in the form of brochures, signage and trail head notices that show a code of conduct and trail grading information. Obvious, but rarely seen on mountain bike trails.

What is mountain biking? Here are some other styles of riding that may further challenge your perception of what mountain biking is. Slides 33-37

Slide 33
Is this appropriate on public land? Raised timber tracks, log rides and seesaws. In New Zealand, this type of playground can be found in most mountain bike parks.

Slide 34
Dirt jumps are in suburban Brisbane parks, on public land. Jumps are provided yet they are more risky than single track.

Slide 35
Mountain cross is a separate discipline within mountain biking. Four bikes are racing each other on a short track with jumps, bumps and tight turns.

Slide 36
Downhill is another discipline within mountain biking, but rarely provided on public land.

Slide 37
Now, what is your perception of mountain biking?

In closing, this visual presentation has tried to capture the type of trails mountain bikers actually ride. We enjoy narrow tracks, like walking tracks, but with specific features. We want to be accepted as a legitimate group and provided for in an equitable way, similar to walkers.

I hope I have challenged you to revise your perception and that this presentation will influence your policy and management decisions regarding mountain bike access in the future.

hawkeye's picture

Hi Jedi, thanks for posting this.

Can you please post hee or PM me a URL for this summary and the original *.ppt file (if available) - it would be handy to be able to use this presentation (after contacting the author for permission of course). Pollies don't like being shown to be "behind" other states, and a success track record elsewhere is a significant help to removing obstacles.

Rob's picture

I happen to have this in my mailbox from a discussion this week - am sure the author wouldn't mind it being shared Eye-wink

Vic - $2 million for trails at Falls Creek
Parks Vic and DSE working with IMBA Aust – including upgrades to Lysterfield!

SA as of 2007, National Parks and Wildlife Service (Dept for environment and Heritage) adopted IMBA trail design and construction guidelines for all walking trails. They have been re-routing all national and regional level walking trails to sustainable grades at huge expense. Other good things happening with MTB in SA, but it is great to have acceptance of sustainable criteria for trails across the board instead of two sets of rules.

NT – local riders looking to establish bike parks in Alice Springs and Darwin

Tas – State – Wide Strategic Plan for MTB management – Google it (Tasmanian MTB Strategy) – its absolute gold

Qld – great partnerships with riders at Daisy Hill (Brisbane) and Smithfield (Cairns) – since the last trail workshop in Cairns the Cairns MTB club have been awarded $35k to weather proof the shuttle road for events and practice. Qld parks is also working on a new Cycling in Parks policy (the draft looks fantastic). Townsville is a prime example of local riders working with the local council and parks.

WA – successful trail management Partnerships between MTB clubs and Dept for Environment and Conservation are either established or taking shape in Perth, Kalamunda, Bunbury, Margaret River and Albany

And the list goes on!

Come on NSW pollies and policy makers - get your act together! Sad

jedijunglesnow's picture

Hey Hawkeye, I just googled it so I don't really have a contact or anything, howevere, if you copy and paste the heading of it into Google and do a search ( I just did) you only get three results.

The third result is a pdf and at the top of it are contact details for the author.

Hope that helps.

hawkeye's picture

Thanks muchly. I'll look into that tonight.

chica's picture

i'm sure she was heading up the AMBA for a while and has also authored the SEQ Mtn Bike book- great book if your heading up to SEQ and looking for trail maps etc (used to sell for about $15 in the local bike shops). She is very well known in SEQ and i'm sure if you contacted her she would assist. Another SEQ person to try is Oppy - he is one of the Council coordinators who heads up trail maintenance days at Gap Creek. you can get his details off mtbdirt website and his user name is oppy.

just found some more good articles by Gillian

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