Thank you Chair
I rise to speak on Item A, in support of the Schrinner Council’s Off-Road Cycling strategy.
This is a subject in which I have a considerable interest, given that Mount Coot-tha reserve has an extensive network of diverse tracks and trails. In addition to Mt Coot-tha, the strategy also includes future opportunities in 11 other parks and reserves in the Pullenvale Ward.
More about those later.
Chair, let me start by commending the work of the Environment Chair, Cr. Davis and her predecessor, Cr. Cunningham on their tireless efforts in bringing this strategy to fruition.
We said from day 1 – and its remains the case today – that our Off Road Cycling strategy was about striking a balance between allowing certain uses on authorised tracks while at the same time ensuring the protection of the city’s unique and important environmental assets.
Chair, this strategy identifies potential short and long-term opportunities for developing off-road cycling facilities across the city, including existing shared-use tracks and fire trails.
At the time of developing the strategy, authorised off-road cycling opportunities within Council bushland reserves mostly comprised riding mountain bikes on designated single tracks and a skills track in the Mt Coot-tha Reserve.
Such is the growth and popularity of off-road cycling, both as a fitness activity involving the entire family and as a highly competitive and popular sport, the 24 kilometres of designated bike tracks at Mount Coot-tha are often at capacity.
As the report to Council’s Environment Committee last week indicated, the increase in demand has added to the creation of unauthorised and illegal tracks, not only at Mt Coot-tha but in other areas. New tracks can cause environmental damage and are costly to close and rehabilitate.
Increasing compliance through education has been highlighted as an important step required to minimise impacts to natural areas while rider numbers continue to increase.
The popularity of off-road cycling activities was also borne out in the responses received during the second round of public consultation last year.
Of the more than 3,200 responses received, 89% supported the development of additional off-road cycling facilities, 87% agreed that off-road cycling should be allowed on fire tracks, 81% supported off-road cycling on shared-use tracks and there was strong support for off-road cycling opportunities to be depicted on regional maps.
Chair, the Strategy introduces a dedicated trail care program coordinator whose role is to develop a city wide off road cycling trail care program and to promote community stewardship.
Last year, on a very hot and steamy Saturday morning, I was invited to walk the length of Whip Bird Way on Mount Coot-tha to see firsthand the work that 30 volunteers were undertaking to maintain the track.
That day reinforced to me the importance that we continue to work in partnership with volunteer groups and community members to ensure the key outcomes of the strategy are delivered.
As mentioned earlier, a number of other locations within the Pullenvale Ward have been identified as potential future off-road cycling opportunities.
They include mountain bike single trails at Gold Creek Reserve, Brookfield, Changing Mountain Bushland, Dandy’s Range Bushland, Kholo, the Kholo Bushland Reserve, and Shelley Road Park, Kholo; riding on shared used trails or fire tracks at John Sprent Reserve and Priors Pocket Road Park at Moggill; Marstaeller Road Reserve, Changing Mountain Bushland and Kholo Bushland Reserve and Shelley Road Park; and a skills track, dirt jumps or pump track at Platypus Park, Mount Crosby and Tuckett Street Park, Kenmore.
All of these identified opportunities are good fits within these reserves.
The strategy says that by providing well-planned off-road cycling facilities and opportunities, we can anticipate a decrease in unauthorised track construction and associated environmental impacts. I certainly hope that is the case.
Chair, in summary, the Schrinner Council’s Off-Road Cycling Strategy provides a strategic framework for the future delivery of safe, recreational off-road cycling facilities while at the same time, better protecting our bushland reserves and parks.
This strategy has my support and I look forward to its implementation.