Riders making the most of cycle trails

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 13:00 17/02/2014

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A survey and magnetic trail counter numbers have revealed that thousands of people are using the Great Taste and Dun Mountain cycle trails every month, and that although the overwhelming majority are satisfied, signs and trail maps could be improved.

On the Waimea Inlet portion of the Great Taste Trail, there were 10,847 estimated bike passes between November 26 and February 9. On the Kaiteriteri section, there were 4897 estimated bike passes between January 21 and February 9.

Almost 400 riders were either interviewed in person in December and January or filled out the survey online.

"Around 95 per cent of survey participants were local, with an overwhelming majority saying they are satisfied with their overall experience, ride sections regularly and can't wait to see the loop completed," said Katrina Marwick, tourism management coordinator at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, who ran the survey as part of ongoing research into the social and economic impacts of the trails.

Cyclists were interviewed about the quality of services associated with the trail, such as accommodation, signs, access to drinking water and toilet facilities, through to whether they had spent money while on the trail, and what services they would expect to find.

Some cyclists, especially visitors to the region, said they wanted to spend money but didn't know where off-trail service providers were. Visitors also said that on some sections, they found it difficult to access the trail and couldn't find a detailed map.

Ninety-five per cent of the riders surveyed were from New Zealand, with the overseas tourists coming from Australia, Germany, Japan, Denmark, Britain and the United States.

"I was so impressed by cyclists' willingness to stop and give feedback," Ms Marwick said. "As soon as riders realised this was their opportunity to be heard and give feedback to the trail trust, they were more than happy to give their time and rate their experiences."

She said many who responded were regular cyclists who rode trails elsewhere in New Zealand and overseas.

Some of the questions were drawn from surveys of other trails in New Zealand and Australia, so that the results could be benchmarked against them.

Ms Marwick will present her findings to the cycle trail trust board this week. She said that because the Great Taste Trail was in the development stage, feedback was important.

She was assisted by NMIT tourism management student Josh Coote and Tasman District Council summer intern Ben Jones.

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The survey is continuing, and cyclists are encouraged to complete it at heart ofbiking.org.nz/our-trails.

- Nelson

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