Mountain bikers singled out in complaints

Mountain bikers are being pinpointed by members of the community as a hazard to other users in Nelson's reserves.

Submitters to a proposed bylaw managing activities in public reserves made their views clear about mountain bikers at a Nelson City Council planning and regulatory committee meeting yesterday.

Although the draft bylaw does not include provisions for managing issues on shared pathways, a number of submitters raised concerns about the impact of mountain bikers on shared tracks.

Helen Black said while walking her dog in the Botanic Gardens, along the Maitai pathway, and on Codgers Track she had had too close for comfort experiences with mountain bikers and described one event as "scary and intimidating".

She now walks her dog in the early hours of morning or at night to avoid mountain bikers. Downhill bikers particularly concerned her as she felt they had no consideration for others using tracks.

Ms Black called for tighter regulations and codes of practice from those using public land and would also like there to be an "unbiased forum where outdoor user groups could meet to nut things out - together with the council".

She said using the parks was about the luck of whether she would meet mindful bikers or not.

"I view this as a form of indirect discrimination and I would like to see the council reconsider their views in regards to managing our parks and reserves with a more holistic view and provide parks and reserves that are safe and enjoyable for all of us to use."

Christopher St Johanser, on behalf of the Brooke Valley Community Group, was more scathing, saying he thought some council staff advice was biased towards mountain bikers and was upset that Codgers Park was being considered a mountain bike track without any consultation. He said mountain biking should be controlled through the bylaw instead of "managed informally".

"Our community has clearly identified the activity of mountainbiking to be one which has brought significant hazard to members of our community," said Mr St Johanser .

A written submission from Queenie Ballance on behalf of the Nelson Branch of the National Council for Women suggested cyclists on shared footpaths be requested to have a bell or device to warn walkers, which is common practice in The Netherlands and a clear walker to the right of the pathways giving cyclists room to manoeuvre.

Golf also came under attack by submitters. Dan McGuire wrote to the council and said he had to "stay at the very edge of the grounds" to avoid getting hit by a golf ball when people were playing golf. Ms Black also highlighted this as an issue.

Helen Campbell, representing the friends of Nelson Haven and Tasman Bay, asked for the bylaw to be reworded in places to make it more specific. She also said the council should ensure the protection of plant life around waterways when there are shared pathways.

Transpower environmental policy adviser Michael Hurley said the draft bylaw would prevent Transpower from carrying out maintenance work on infrastructure going through reserves. Mr Hurley asked the council to provide an additional exemption in the bylaw so the company could carry out its maintenance and upgrading work on the national grid.

The committee will discuss the submissions on May 8 and then the final draft will go back for adoption on June 19.

The Nelson Mail