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Report from Second round of MTB Discussion paper forum

Rob's picture

By Rob - Posted on 23 February 2011

Regarding In the news: Second round of MTB Discussion paper forums.... there's a report from the Nowra workshop here...

Have a read. For the authorities it's worth noting the lack of opposition to views in the prior forums (which was predominantly that sustainable mountain bike riding in NSW National Parks would be a good thing) given the turn out of this meeting.

I also found some of the claims made laughable, in particular these...

8. Providing opportunities like this to a Special Interest Group (mtbers) is inconsistent with the wider public benefit of having NPs. (Special tracks, equipment as opposed to simple walking).
9. Speed versus enjoyment. (Mtbers cannot be enjoying NPs at the speed they ride at).

I mean really... point 8: what are tracks and stairs for bushwalking groups then? Or marinas/boat ramps for those liking the water? Or lookouts for those who like to take in the view (what is that special interest group called?). Point 9... please don't try and tell me what my senses are or are not able to take in whilst riding along (or... have you considered... when I stop somewhere I couldn't hope to reach on foot in the time available?) - you'd be surprised!

Oh, and I love this part:

Towards the end the point was raised by the gentleman to my left that NPs were essentially set up by walkers for walkers. ... One of the NPWS people responded very well ... by describing that the technology availabel at the time made bushwalking the best way to explore these areas, however, if NPs were only being established in the 1990s, mtbers could possibly be using the same argument now.

Oh, and this:

I really believe that the organisations behind the push for these new forums have damaged their own reputations and shown how small their real support base is with the number of forums being cancelled and the lacklustre number of attendees.

Well said Smiling

Ray R's picture

Thanks for the update Rob,

Much of the opposition to MTB in Parks comes from a general conservatism (as opposed to conservation). Things have been done a certain way in the past - and therefore should not change. While we should be wary of change for changes sake, when there is a demonstrable need then the change should be catered for.

I've discussed the situation of MTB access to Sydney Catchement areas with a friend who worked there. I asked why it was OK to walk, camp, fish, sail, canoe in certain areas - but not ride a bike. The answer is purely historical - these permitted activities existed in the areas prior to them being catchments!

As for the idea that MTB should not be in Parks as we use "equipment" - piffle! The use of moderm equipment in hiking is widespread and desirable - eg use of modern, lightweight stoves reduces burning of wood for fires.

We must all continue to present MTB as a reasonable and appropriate use of Parks!!

Keep up the good work all.

Ray Rice

herzog's picture

"8. Providing opportunities like this to a Special Interest Group (mtbers) is inconsistent with the wider public benefit of having NPs. (Special tracks, equipment as opposed to simple walking)."

So the bushwalkers don't wear boots then?

Otherwise the report appears to be good news.

The HOHA (Hateful Old Hikers Association) seems to have far fewer members than maybe NPWS imagined...

crank's picture

I was a bit worried when I saw I was the only mtber at the Nowra forum on Monday but it seemed to go pretty well. The facilitator seemed very fair, as Anthony Burton was the first time around, but was definitely more prepared to cut off a long winded point than AB was. The way two of the attendees in particular expressed their views I could certainly see why they didn't voice any concerns during the first round in Nowra that they also attended. But they still had that initial opportunity that everyone else had. Overall, I don't think anything was raised that would really add any weight to any argument that has already been made.

......'s picture

isn't any track in an NP "Special" If it isn't there naturally, then it is a "special" track. never mind the fact that our "special" tracks are "specially" designed to minimise impact. I'd argue that very few of the walkers "special" tracks have as much consideration re the surrounding area as a new "specially designed" "special" mtb track

Ok. I feel better now

Flynny's picture

You'll find most of the "extreme" conversationalist also object to dedicated walking trails, preferring to "zero track" which is what I tend to do more often than not when walking in NPs.

Zero tracking is good ideologically but humans are lazy and will follow the straightest/easiest path thus zero tracking over time tends to lead to un planned trail forming.... Much like what happened in mountain biking up until recently where we took the lead in planned, sustainably build trails...

daveh's picture

The problem with zero tracking is that people who don't know the area get lost and finding and rescuing people is even harder when there isn't a good chance that they will at least be on a track. I think you will find the most extreme conservationists say that we should not be in those areas at all. They are there to preserve the natural environment and its flora and fauna only!

kazam's picture

Quoted - 9. Speed versus enjoyment. (Mtbers cannot be enjoying NPs at the speed they ride at).

what a load of rubbish lol

not all riders are competion riders believe it or not some riders actually take family members riding too

......'s picture

how do you quantify how much some "enjoy's" something. Just can't do it.

ps's picture

Was a much quieter meeting than the first one with less than 30 attendees. Around 6-8 council people, 6 MTB advocates, 1 horse person with the rest being associated with a variety of environmental groups. The guys from the Colong Foundation were not present.

We split into 4 or so tables with an NPWS representative at each table and had about an hour of general chat on the 3 issues most important to each person at the table. The issues were then consolidated and the facilitator chose subjects that hadn't been reviewed in depth before and allocated them to each table. The table Hawkeye and I were on got to talk about ways to stop the spread of disease and pests.

Overall there was more in common between the MTB community, NPWS and the moderate environmentalists that disagreements. There was one old guy on our table from Hornsby who was misinformed and argumentative. Doubt we changed his mind much. Also found it surprising that he was happy to say he had been working on the same area for 20 years and still hadn't been able to rehabilitate it. Personally I would take that as a hint that his approach might need to change.

The NPWS guy on our table was based at Bobbin Head, rode to work and said he had done some MTB events so was pretty supportive of our position.

peddling home's picture

The table i sat at discussion was very cordial for everyone
We had Ranger Chris From Garrigal NP and Regional Manager Garry.
Both were very supportive although their main concern was for good location and design so not to leave a legacy of major infrastructure that needs large funding in 20 to 30 years like many parks have with their facilities. Parks seem to be able to acess capital works funding ( Pollies love a ribbon cutting ceremony but who wants to reopen a rebuilt upgraded toilet block)
The consensus from all groups seemed to be
* choosing the correct environment for locating the tracks
* using best standards for construction ( this needs more communication of these to other user groups and environmental groups)
* Making the trail length long enough to make it worth while riding ie the experience to keep you coming back
* Developing a good trail rider/ walker / environment / riding codes
* on going maintenance funding and man power
Over all i felt it was a matter of this is going to happen rather than not, although slowly
Cheers Craig

Noel's picture

At our table it was all very sedated. I got there late, and got a quick read over the table listed "issues" so far, added a couple, and then they were presented. We had Ranger Michelle, Mr Little, Margery, Aboriginal Land Rep, and a couple other fit looking grey haired people. Several ride. Discussion was varied. Mr little explained that he encountered a bike on a single track coming down a grade at significant speed and that he needed to stand still to let the rider avoid him and save possible injury. So then we talked about:
-How that could be a trail design related
-How sustainably built trails can contain a riders speed
-That higher speed is more likely on FT etc.
-A rider can avg 9 km/h on really enjoyable tight technical single track.
-There are some trail blunders in Manly Dam and how it was not designed for the purpose
-Awaba, or Appin (there is nothing local) could be better examples for Mr Little to go look at
-We talked about locations where people are apparently riding over some aboriginal carvings. Sounds like people might not be aware of it, or it needs some serious barriers (telegraph poles) or something around it. I don't know where exactly he was talking about.

Our topic was Education. We talked pretty much solely on education for riders in regards to sustainable riding and increased awareness for riders in regards to the bush etc. To work in with some groups and have some more 'bush learning' flavored oriented riding events. More cross pollination between groups etc. Maybe we all just have a huge party and get naked? Nah we didn't talk about that last one. Code of Conduct communication methods etc. We didn't really get to education for anybody else. I think the night was a bit of awareness for the non believers so they can get it off their chests. One lady actually questions the stated increases in off road cycling in the Discussion Paper. I explained how schools now have teams for it and compete. Isn't that due to increase? She gave me some kind of confused look that I think the Jehovahs/Breathren? who knocked on my door had after a bit of a chat about the meaning of life, and then it was time up.

Ray R's picture

Thanks to Paul, Craig & Noel for their reports on the Turramutta meeting - and thanks to the other mtb riders who attended. It sounds like the more often we can sit down and discuss environmental concerns with people, the more we will find how much we have in common. This also marginalises the extreme "lock mtb out" factions - and exposes their views as either ill informed or extreme.

Keep up the good work!

Ray Rice

hawkeye's picture

Arrived late due to work commitments. Was ushered to the 1 remaining empty seat which was on ps's table. I was glad to be able to give him some support, as the misinformation was flowing freely.

White-Haired Old Bloke ps referred to was being deliberately obtuse and provocative, I felt, and was giving Horse Lady a serve as well as the two of us. His wry smile as he delivered some of his comments was the tell-tale.

Horse Lady seemed well-informed about both bikes and walkers, and challenged WHOB several times over evidence.

NIMBY woman on ps's right was confused on a lot of facts, and ps was a real gentleman in the way he gently corrected her. An elderly woman between me and NIMBY was concerned about walkers being frightened by mountain bikers appearing unexpectedly and was against sharing trails, and against building more trails. There wasn't going to be a lot that could be done to encourage a change of view there unfortunately. ps and I took pains to explain several times that World Trail meant World's Best Practice in design and construction, because that what was needed to ensure the trails were built ecnomically and sustainably, and that events with large numbers of people from all over the world hadn't actually entered our heads. I was tempted to thank them for the suggestion, but managed to resist. Eye-wink

The NPWS guy on our table's primary concern was how they were going to pay for it, however much it was going to be. He seemed quite reasonable about the prospect of holding events on NPWS trails, taking up the discussion about environmental impact assessments when I mentioned Oxfam walking and trail-running events on NPWS managed lands. That seemed to settle down NIMBY and the woman on my left. WHOB then piped up with "why can't bikes stick to fire trails?", but was more quiet when I responded with "why can't walkers stick to fire trails???".

Once the green light is eventually given for mtb trails, it seems we are going to have to get behind NPWS and start lobbying State and Federal pollies for increases to NPWS budgets. Getting the trails into policy is just going to be getting the rocket to the launch pad. To get it off the ground and into orbit is going to require fuel ... in other words, funding. So it looks like our work is just starting.

An interesting evening. Quite amusing that Colong Foundation didn't have the kahunas to turn up.

Rob's picture

I can't really add much more than what has already been said. The meeting we attended in Turramurra was a pretty standard night in these kind of circles.

It is worth noting that no-one from the Coolong Foundation bothered to attend. After the meeting I asked NPWS staff about this who confirmed only one member of that organisation joined one of the second round of meetings via teleconference. Perhaps they should change their name to the Coolong-gone Foundation, eh? Eye-wink

Anyhow, on Monday the ladies on my table listened well and seemed to take a few things in which was nice.

There was on old fella there too who was rather rude and thought he was better than me in every respect. Something about riding a bike around in the bush when he was a kid without needing trails to ride on, and walking 25km for a picnic or something. He said to me, "You don't look like you even know what a PoM is, let alone bothering to read one!". Oh well, there's always one, eh? Eye-wink

Kingy's picture

How does that equate for Abseilers and rock climbers, both with their back to the vista, base jumpers, whoa now they could not possibly apprciate the view at 140 kph?
Many thanks to all you advocates that attended these meetings, well done!

ChopStiR's picture

Should note there was one Colong member at the springwood meet.

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