Drop bans on peak, bikers say

By Doug Laing

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PIQUED: Mountain bikers, including former international adventure racer Tim Wilkins (front), are disgruntled at being banned from riding on TeMata Peak walking tracks.
PIQUED: Mountain bikers, including former international adventure racer Tim Wilkins (front), are disgruntled at being banned from riding on TeMata Peak walking tracks.

Mountain bikers want the Te Mata Peak Trust to back-pedal on bans stopping them from using five new peak tracks, despite plans for more routes specifically for the cyclists.

The issue has arisen since the formation of the five great walks, which were opened three weeks ago.

Former international adventure racer Tim Wilkins said signs banning mountain bikes were "everywhere," but the tracks should be able to be used by all groups.

Trust chairman Bruno Chambers said, however, that Mr Wilkins and clubs of local mountain-bike riders were aware of "the next step," which he said was to "delineate" mountain-bike tracks and deal with "other issues" that had been raised.

He said the clubs were also aware the trust was putting together a committee of representatives to develop the bike use.

"It's erroneous to say we're developing only one small part of the park for mountain bikes," he said. "We are looking at developing a significant part."

Safety and managing "crossovers" of walking and biking tracks were among the issues and Mr Chambers said: "There are some constraints we have to deal with. The trust's primary concern is safety."

But the trust also has to clarify covenants which may affect use of "wheeled vehicles" within the park.

It has in the past had concerns about people taking "shovels and spades" up to the park and building their own biking tracks and people removing signs, which the trust had put in place. .

Mr Wilkins said mountain biking on Te Mata Peak could rank it alongside Rotorua and Queenstown as offering some of New Zealand best shared tracks and could boost the region's economy by over $10 million annually.

"Best practice is shared-use tracks and this is now common practice in recreational parks throughout the world," he said.

"Shared-use tracks that are well signed are also much safer to use and nothing is unexpected."

Mr Wilkins and friends Damon Harvey and Russell Nettlingham have gained support from the Hawke's Bay Mountain Bike Club and Bennelong Mountain Bike Club, which regards Te Mata Peak as its home playground.

Bennelong club spokesman Richard Mills said: "The Te Mata Peak Park Trust needs to embrace mountain biking, take down the no-riding signs and let the tracks be shared."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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