Redwoods track vandal causes disruption and danger to mountainbikers

Andrew Higgins in action during race two of the Nelson Mountain Bike Club Winter Downhill series, Redwoods Brook Valley, ...
Virginia Woolf

Andrew Higgins in action during race two of the Nelson Mountain Bike Club Winter Downhill series, Redwoods Brook Valley, Nelson.

Nelson mountainbikers are concerned that a member of the public has been sabotaging trails in the Brook Valley by placing logs and concrete across tracks and it is only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

Brook Valley resident Blair Rutledge said the Redwood track he regularly rode with his two children had been subject to regular instances of trail sabotage in recent years.

The risk of injury - particularly to younger riders - was a concern, he said.

"[The obstacles] shouldn't be there, even for myself on the downhill tracks when you're going fast and skidding to stop."

As well as being dangerous, the obstacles caused disruption to riders on their journey or prompted them to stop suddenly on downhill sections.

After finding logs placed across the track, Rutledge had encountered other obstacles that included tape being zig-zagged across the track, branches being snapped off at an angle to narrow thoroughfare and placing concrete kerbing at the bottom of the trail.

READ MORE: 'Malicious' vandalism on Marlborough mountainbike track

The track links with the Dun Mountain Trail at the campground end of Brook St and, as a shared pathway, was popular with both riders and walkers.

Rutledge said he had spoken to the Nelson Mountain Bike Club, who maintain the track, about taking a larger role in keeping the tracks clear.

"I've taken ownership to try and tidy it up, purely because my kids have shown a lot of interest and their friends come up here because they've built a few jumps - but they're not up there causing trouble."

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NMTBC secretary Paul Jennings acknowledged there had been instances of trail sabotage on the Redwoods track stretching back several years. He said the club had notified the council of the problem, although not to the point of laying a formal complaint.

"It comes and goes. We've tried to do our best to ignore it – you don't want to overact but at the same time if someone injures themselves on there then I guess there's a real issue," he said.

"People aren't really expecting hazards to be dragged across the trail when they're riding down it - younger kids go there because it's super-accessible and safe. The reality is that if anyone is going to get injured it's going to be someone from that age group, which would be terrible."

The club had taken on the responsibility to maintain the track and held the occasional race events there. However, Jennings said as "a proper, documented trail" on the council's asset registry, the Redwoods track was a community facility that required a shared approach from all users.

Nelson City Council communications manager Paul Shattock said while the council was aware of the concerns, the NMTBC had usually moved the logs themselves as the tracks were used frequently and maintained by them.

"Usually it is mainly small logs and branches that can be fairly easily moved. Our team are unaware of having to call contractors to move obstructions in the past."

"We ask the public to keep an eye out and if they do see this kind of thing, please call the council and we'll try and address it."

Cr Tim Skinner, who lives in the Brook Valley and chaired the council's sport and recreation committee, said he was unaware of any vandalism taking place and did not wish to comment on the matter until he had observed the area personally.


 - Stuff


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