Time to discuss track use - club

KATE DAVIDSON
Last updated 12:58 24/03/2014

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Paul Jennings, chairman of the Nelson Mountain Bike Club, is keen to sit down with other users of Nelson's shared tracks to have a "thoughtful discussion" and find solutions to the tensions arising from different groups using trails.

However, the Nelson City Council will not lead the process.

Concerns were raised by walkers and residents of the Brook Valley about their safety on shared tracks with mountain bikers at a council meeting on Thursday. It has been an ongoing issue and Mr Jennings said a forum would be a good way to find solutions.

"I think as a community of our size that it is important that we are able to co-habit and share these things in the interests of everybody," he said.

Mr Jennings said the Codgers Mountain Bike Path was a good example of a shared resources with two-way paths used by cyclists, horse riders, and walkers.

However, he suggested that while several trails were suited for shared use, "certain trails especially the downhill ones aren't conducive to walking" and some tracks were suitable for walking only.

He said trails through forestry, Department of Conservation, and council land often had different rules, but crossed into each other and "those boundaries can be invisible when you are walking or riding through them" which also created issues between users.

The Nelson Mountain Bike Club supports shared pathways and has a code of conduct it promotes on its website and in its literature. In the code mountain bikers were meant to be considerate of walkers who were the "priority", said Mr Jennings.

"The reality is that people are pretty involved with what they are doing. If you are coming down a hill quickly that's pretty much what you are focused on and I think walkers have to understand that some of these trails aren't conducive to walking on even if you're legally allowed to."

He said good sign posting, trail building and visibility were important to "help mitigate the problems and it is those sort of solutions we should be looking at rather than sort of blanket bans on trails of certain user groups as I just don't think it is good for the community as a whole to have those barriers put up".

It was about finding a balance and avoiding segregation, he said.

"I think the best approach is that everybody is careful and considerate and take other users into thought when riding, but I know that is not always the case so it's just trying to find the balance really," he said. "I think all dialogue is good. The last thing we really want is to have isolated cases dictating an overall approach because there is always going to be some minor conflict somewhere, which doesn't mean that all dual use trails are broken and that everybody's having unpleasant experiences."

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Nelson City Council communications manager Angela Ricker said the council was not looking at leading any forum, but would be interested in any solutions and ideas it would come up with.

- Nelson

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