Supporters of mountain bike track criticise council process, as public gets final say on its future

A rider on the Serendipity trail in Polhill.
LISA NG PHOTOGRAPHY

A rider on the Serendipity trail in Polhill.

The addition of a 2.5-kilometre mountain bike track in Wellington's Polhill Reserve has generated years of discussion, but the end may finally be in sight.

A proposal to add the priority bike track is open for public input for the final time.

But supporters of the proposal say the process has taken far too long, and the council has been increasingly difficult to deal with.

Iona Pannett says she will wait to see what submissions are received on the Polhill mountain bike track proposal before ...
MONIQUE FORD/ FAIRFAX NZ

Iona Pannett says she will wait to see what submissions are received on the Polhill mountain bike track proposal before deciding if she is for or against it.

The addition of mountain bike tracks in Wellington reserves is the source of ongoing tension, with some residents objecting to what they see as a takeover by mountain bikers.

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* Conflict over more mountain bike tracks in Wellington City Council's Polhill Reserve
* Tensions rising between mountain bikers and walkers on Wellington's trails

"It is great that we got to where we are and [it is] out for consultation," Craig Starnes, from Brooklyn Trail Builders, said.

The results of the initial survey indicated there was strong support for additional tracks. However, he was concerned it had taken four years to get to this point.

"Am I happy with this process? No.

"We are hoping people aren't suffering from consultation fatigue." 

Wellington City Council, in conjunction with the Brooklyn Trail Builders, has published a list of five proposals, with the new 2.5km downhill mountain bike priority track at the heart of changes.

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More than 800 responses were received by the from a preliminary survey, and more than 90 per cent indicated support of new tracks.

Supporters say the track will free up an already congested shared path and minimise the risk of collision. 

Wellington city councillor Iona Pannett raised concerns about too much of the area being dedicated to mountain bikers last year. She said the consultation process was designed to balance conflicting views.

But she said the council might have to repeat the conversation each year, unless this was the final mountain bike track to go in at Polhill.

"It has been a long process, and hopefully in the future this kind of process will be shorter," council consultation adviser Mike Oates said.

The council needed to balance all views, because there were polarised feelings on the issue.

Members of Walking Capital have vowed to oppose the proposal, and say they  are concerned there has been  "a complete takeover" of reserves by mountain bikers.

"We are against any new tracks going in there," group member Georgia Vaughan said.

"We are objecting to the fact, in the space of eight to 10 years, the place has been turned into a quasi mountain biking park." 

Public consultation closes on July 3 and the issue is likely to go back to the council in September.

 - Stuff

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