Public have their say on new Polhill Reserve mountain bike track
Plans to alter a number of trails around Polhill Reserve and add a 2.5 kilometre downhill mountain bike track have received mixed feedback.
The old arguments between walkers and mountain bikers flared up as submitters disagreed over which trails were fit for mixed traffic, and how much damage the proposed trail would cause.
Living Streets Aotearoa said in their submission that more tracks were not needed, and would disturb native flora and fauna, and increase the risk of erosion as paths were carved out.
The proposal contains a list of five possible alterations to trails around Polhill, with the 2.5km intermediate-grade bike track at the heart of changes.
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Others proposals included a new 350-metre walking-only trail from Karepa St to the Transient Trail, a shared connector trail from the Upper Clinical Trail to Highbury Fling Trail, the removal of the steep track from Waimapihi Reserve to Transient, and the removal of the 60-metre Ashton Fitchett Drive steps onto Transient.
Wellington Trails Trust supported the new bike trail, saying it would take pressure off the popular two-way Transient Trail.
Spokesman Anthony Edmonds said new trails would increase Wellingtonians' engagement with the Reserve, and aid conservation efforts, rather than obstructing them.
He said concerns over negative impact to the environment were "flawed and a distraction", with trails in Zealandia and Wilton Bush showing impact would be minimal.
The discussion started in July last year, when the council considered the Open Space Access Plan, and received a submission from the Brooklyn Trail Builders proposing three additional tracks.
Any new trail works would be carried out by either the Brooklyn Trail Builders, at their cost, or from council budgets.
Brooklyn Trail Builders spokesman Craig Starnes said the organisation would be able to fundraise to carry out the work, and had built and maintained tracks at Polhill for the best part of a decade.
"Most of the building is done by volunteer labour," he said.
"It's worth noting 96 per cent of the respondents were in favour of the downhill track."
Walking Capital, a recently-formed group, opposed new tails and rejected a proposal to remove the steep track from Waimapihi Reserve and the steps from the Ashton Fitchett Drive entrance, which they said were well used by walkers and provided useful links between different areas.
The group said the Highbury Fling track was very narrow, possibly endangering walkers, and new signage was needed to enhance safety on mixed-use trails.
A "time sharing" approach which would limit mountain bikers use of mixed trails was also championed by Walking Capital.
Consultation began in June, and garnered 610 submissions.
Submissions will be considered by council and a decision made in September.