“The actions of a few individuals are undermining an otherwise productive relationship between the Council, club and the wider mountain bike community,” said club president Dave Preece.
“We are in discussions with the Council on providing more advanced technical trails in Wellington City. Our public spaces are a shared resource, and it’s not OK to build anything in them without permission.”
For over six years, the Wellington Mountain Bike Club has collaborated with the Council to develop and maintain multi-use trails around the city, including in Miramar, Polhill Reserve in Aro Valley and Mount Victoria. The club is working with the Council to identify locations around the city appropriate for technical trails, and will engage with user community stakeholder groups as part of this process.
Signage and fencing is being erected on Te Ahumairangi in a bid to combat the creation and use of unsanctioned trails. These are primarily mountain bike trails. Signs will also be installed at entranceways and at various points on the main ridgeline highlighting the trails that can and cannot be used by mountain bikers.
Unsanctioned trail building in the region can cause damage to reserve areas and create conflict between other reserve users.
Fencing and signage will also be installed in Huntleigh Park, which is closed to mountain biking, between Ngaio and Crofton Downs, where unsanctioned trails exist through established and regenerating native bush.
Paul Andrews, the Council’s Parks, Sport and Recreation Manager, says the creation of unsanctioned trails is disappointing. “The Council has an important and productive partnership with the club and wider mountain bike community. We are grateful for the volunteer work undertaken and are disappointed at the irresponsible actions of a few individuals that are undermining that partnership.
“The Council can prosecute under the Reserves Act those who are caught building unsanctioned trails, and we encourage the public to report to the Council people building or creating trails.”
David Halliday, the Council’s Parks and Recreation Project Manager, says while the Council is happy to work with people to develop new trails in appropriate areas it does not condone the building or use of unsanctioned trails by any user group.
“There is a process that the community can follow to work towards new trails. And while some of these trails may have existed for many years they are not sanctioned trails and it is not acceptable for any work to be done on trails, new or existing, without prior approval.“
The Council and Mountain Bike Club acknowledge the need for proper planning to ensure that the impact of trails, both walking and mountain biking, can be minimised.
For example, improper trail design can cause slope erosion, damage to native vegetation and disturb wildlife. A recent case in point are the threatened nesting NZ falcon on Te Ahumairangi Hill.
Further, the safety of other trail users is a concern and a number of these unsanctioned trails have poorly established intersections and bad sight lines that pose a risk for other legitimate bikers, runners and walkers on the sanctioned trails. There are also concerns about the safety of structures on trails that have not been built to appropriate standards.
Anyone wanting to discuss ideas for a new trail should contact David Halliday. “This will allow bikers, runners and walkers to work with the Council to ensure new trails are built as part of the overall trail network plan for the city and that we create sustainable trails that work for all trail users and minimise any potential negative effects on the local environment and ecology of the area.”