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Hassans Walls Plan of Management. Discussion paper now out

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By Flynny - Posted on 26 September 2016

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

The Hassans Walls Plan of Management, discussion paper has been released and can be read on councils website

Over all it is a positive document however there are a few points of concern and I urge all users of the reserve to read through it and have their say using the online feed back form

A few issues I picked up on a quick skim through

Page 42
The suggestion of making the road one way, entering from sheedys gully side and exiting via brown gap. This would severely impact our ability to offer shuttles with reasonable turn around times at DH events (and social riding). This was one of the major factors considered when choosing the site for a new DH trail.

A far better option would be properly signposted speed limits and reminding walkers its a public road (When living at the bottom of hill I'd walk my dogs up there several times a week. you hear cars coming from several corners away, how hard is it to move to the side of the road? We certainly neve4 had an issue)

The section on recreational trails starts on page 43. Please read it carefully and respond with your support or concerns. Especially issued raise with share use, preferred or exclusive use trails.
This is not a bad way to go so long as it is fair and even and policed evenly. Currently Pony Express is exclusive to MTB, as we all know it is commonly used by walkers and runner even though we have provided the separate spectator trail.

Again I ask all riders to read through the document and respond with your thought and desires

Flynny's picture

Here is a draft of what I plan to submit on behalf of the club
The Central Tablelands Mountain bike club (CTMBC) welcomes the opportunity to comment of the Hassans Walls Plan of Management issues and discussion paper.

We note the reserve is crown land set aside for public recreation and recognise it’s significance as a slice of bush land on the edge of town.

Section 1.3.1 Current conditions and use recognises the reserve serves as an important recreational resource for the area and states it is a well known destination for local and regional mountain bike riders. We would go further and state it is known internationally. It is not uncommon to encounter riders from interstate and from overseas visiting the reserve,

2,2 survey results. The percentages in some of the graphs do not add up.

6.2.4 User conflict.
* “Few collisions or conflicts between riders and walkers are reported to reserve managers each year and no serious injuries are known to have been sustained.”
This reinforces the many studies into shared use trail which all point to user conflict being a perceived issue rather than a factually one.

The segment then conflict itself by stating track section pose a greater risk.
AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Risk management - Principles and guidelines states when assessing risk you must take into account the likelihood of the risk eventuating. Likelihhod can be based on several factors the most common use is historical evidence.
The standard states when a risk has not eventuated in 20years it can be considered to be negligible.
CTMBC was formed in 1984 by a group of riders who had been riding trails on Hassans Walls. This means we have atleast 30years of history where “and no serious injuries are known to have been sustained” due to user conflict.

User Conflict is a tired argument and the hazard is best managed by awareness.
Many studies, eg Perception and Reality of Conflict: Walkers and Mountain Bikes on the Queen Charlotte Track in New Zealand: Cessford, G.R. 2002, have show by raising awareness that other users may be on the trail you reduce the incidence of both perceived and actual user conflict.

*“Shared use of road posing safety risk”. See previous comment as same applies.

*“Instituting a one way vehicle system”
CTMBC would not support a once way road system. One of the major factors when choosing the location of a new DH trail was the availability of a shuttle road which offered quick turn around times.
Making the access road into one way one effectively turns a 20min turn around time into an hour + turn around time forcing buses and trailers to traverse back through town. This would place a considerable strain on our ability to run events.

At the moment with zero sign posted speed limits there are few user conflicts.

Again we believe awareness of other road users is a far better control. In the past, when living nearer the base of the access road I have used the road as a walking trail several times a week without issue over many years. It is easy to hear cars coming from several corners away and ensure I’m to the side of the road with ample room to pass.

We believe the introduction of a one way access system would be a knee jerk reaction to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Signage and a 40kmhr speed limit are ample controls.
With you monitoring system suggesting a peak of 7 cars an hour over a weekend we believe anything more would be out of proportion to the issue.

6.3.5 Recreational trails.

*“Enforcement of exclusive use trails... may be difficult.” We agree with this statement and for the most part think exclusive use trails are unwarranted (see comment on 6.2.4 user conflict.)
However there are exceptions. For the Pony Express trail we built a parallel spectator trail to help keep walkers off the riding trail and due to the nature of this trail, far more advanced than other trails on the reserve we ask for walkers to stay off of riding line.

*“Hassans Walls is one of many locations within the region for riding and it may not be appropriate for the reserve to cater all levels of riding...”
We agree in part, however Hassans Walls Reserve is the only Mountain Bike destination in town easily accessible by riding and thus appeals to a greater diversity of rider. Other areas involve at least a 30min drive to reach the access point.
There is ample opportunity for beginners to access the road system and there is a good range of upper-intermediate to advance riding but little to link the gap between those skills set.

The reserve was et aside for public recreation and while recognising the importance of environmental sustainability we believe there is scope to riding opportunities for beginner-intermediate riders.

*” In sections of tracks with limited sight lines there is potential for collision between mountain bike riders and walkers. Similarly, in locations where mountain bike riders can gain speed there is also potential for collision with other users”

See comments on user conflict.
6.4 Possible Management Directions.

6.4.1 access
* “introduce road signage warning of narrow road sections, the presence of walkers and bike riders”
We whole heartedly agree with this approach

*” Provide a bitumen road surface between the Sheedys Gully entrance and the turnoff to Hassans Walls Lookout, including a defined space for walkers”
We do not believe this is necessary.

*” Prohibit walking along Hassans Walls Road and provide a walking track from the Sheedys Gully entrance up the western hillside to the communications tower access track to serve as alternative walking route to Hassans Walls Lookout”
While an expensive exercise this may be a worthwhile addition to the reserve.

*” Instituting a one way vehicle system such that vehicles travel from the Sheedy’s Gully entry and exit to Browns Gap Road.”
We strongly oppose this approach for reasons stated above.
6.4.5 Recreational Trails

*” Maintain a variety of safe and sustainably managed tracks – of differing track standards, distance/duration and character – within the Reserve to offer a choice of walking and riding experiences”
We whole heartedly agree with this

*” Ensure all new track and trail proposals, including major modifications to existing tracks/trails, are subject to the appropriate levels of environmental assessment and approvals”
“Undertake a comprehensive audit of the tracks and trails within the Reserve to understand their alignment, access points and connections; existing condition including soil and vegetation characteristics, track surface and erosion, drainage, public safety (hazards, risks, sightlines) and signage. “
“Using the audit results, establish a desired standard for each trail based on the proposed visitor experience and environmental sustainability and develop a staged management / maintenance program.”
We agree with this in principal but would like to add any modifications are subject to consultation with existing user groups and that audits are undertaken by persons experienced in MTB trail building techniques.

*” Continue to allow for shared use of the track network”
We agree with this

*” Alternatively, identify tracks for the exclusive use of walkers and the exclusive use of riders”

We agree with this in limited circumstances
*” Investigate the development of a trail link along the Reserve’s northern boundary to provide a greater connectivity of trails in that area.”
“ Provide for the development of a loop track around Sheedy’s Gully to provide a beginner trail for mountain bike riders”
We believe both these suggestions would add to the usability of the site and help carter to a wider range of user while managing impacts

*” Alternatively, do not develop a loop track in consideration of the existing extensive network of trails in the Reserve and the existing 4WD access tracks that beginners can utilise.”
We disagree with this. 4WD trails fail to address user needs.

* “Night mountain bike riding will not be permitted in the Reserve, as the environmental impacts of night riding are poorly understood and the degree of impact of this activity on wildlife is as yet unknown”
We strongly oppose this. Not only do we find the statement ludicrous we believe any attempt to implement it would be impossible to police and thus setting the plan up to fail.
Night riding has been happening in the reserve for 30years with little to no impact on wild life.
In the depths of a long Lithgow winter night when people are getting home from work in the dark and thus night riding is often their only outlet.
The idea that night riding would greatly impact wild life out of left field. The DECC themselves run spotlighting tours in several National Parks around NSW. Surely the 1second of light wildlife is exposed to as a group of riders glide past pails in comparison to a group of walkers deliberately shining a group of lights directly at the animal and taking photos while having a lengthy discussion about it.

*” Maintain a relationship with the Central Tablelands Mountain Bike Club and utilise their membership and other volunteers in track maintenance and development, on approved projects and under the supervision and direction of Reserve managers”
We whole heartedly agree with this

6.4.6 Strongly agree that Pony club should be reissued a lease which grants them sufficient tenure.
How ever any permissions to grant other users access should be done only with Pony Club agreements. The Lithgow Pony club has significant investment, both in infrastructural and and volunteer time in grounds keeping over a long period of time and this needs to be recognised and respected.

6.4.8 Unauthrorised Acticvities
We agree in principal with most of the points here

*” Installation of gates on both Hassans Walls Road entries”
We note gates have been trailed before without success

6.4.9 Information, Interpretation and Education
We agree with points raised.

8. Reserve Administration
We believe the reserve is best managed by Lithgow City Council as independent from special interest groups.

Thank you for the opportunity to take place in the consultation process. We believe most users of the reserve respect and appreciate it for many of the same reasons and with proper management it can continue to offer sustainable recreational opportunities while respecting and retaining the cultural and natural values

Flynny's picture

Deadline for comment is Monday the 10th Oct

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Last chance to make a submission

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