A little perspective
With all the talk of the current NPWS Discussion Paper I was thinking this morning about what bike riders are actually asking for.
Bike riders just want a few bike tracks that will give them some sort of meaningful experience inside a National Park or two. You know - a few nice loops with a variety of terrain to keep things interesting, through nice bushland with nice views. Is that much to ask? It appears some people think so, so how can we persuade them otherwise?
So forget about what bike riders want for a second and let's have a look at what tourists in general have by way of access. Let's take one of the most popular parks in the North of Sydney as an example - Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (KCNP).
Using figures from the department we can see that KCNP is 14,978ha. That's almost 150 square kilometres or 1.7 times the size of the area of Manhattan (USA).
However, in the grand scheme of NSW National Parks this is a drop in the ocean. The total parks area, from their table, is 5,590,802ha or over 55,000 square kilometres. This is 2.7 times the area of Wales! That's old Wales in the UK, not NSW
From this we see KCNP is 0.27% of the total park area in NSW - pretty tiny.
Anyhow, I started by saying we should look at what other visitors get in that park and figured road access would be a good one. Yes, yes, cars are nasty polluting machines, but a lot of visitors and tourists wouldn't be able to enjoy the park without driving there so they are a necessary evil, right? Forget about the area for picnic tables and lookouts and toilet facilities and parking. Mainly as they are too hard for me to get Let's just add up the sealed roads in KCNP (that's West Head Road, McCarrs Creek Rd, Coal & Candle Drive, Cottage Point, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase Rd, etc) I found there was 45.8km of the stuff.
Assuming sealed roads consist of two, 3 metre lanes with a 1 metre shoulder each side that's 366,400 square metres or 36.64ha. Sounds bad, but not really.
The total area of sealed road in KCNP is 0.24% of the total area of that park - pretty tiny.
To illustrate the above example, take a look at the attached graphic.
All that said, you'd think that any conservationist wouldn't begrudge a bike rider the same sort of facility a road user gets would you? So let's figure this out... say bike riders could get a few kilometres of single track. Assume the trail corridor is 2m wide even though the actual trail will be closer to 50-100cm in width. You could build 183km on the same area as there are currently sealed roads.
Don't forget though - bike riders aren't even asking that all the trails provided are single use. Many users would benefit from any provided trails as many would be mixed use.
Guess the question is - why would anyone object to a bike rider being given off road facilities in a National Park equal to the roads that exist? Are they saying the motor vehicle is a more worthy use of the park?!
I know this example is simple and it's only about one specific park, but tell you what - if we got saw even half of that 183km of trail in KCNP I'd be ecstatic!