I am writing in response to the media release published in issue 286 “CEN calls for mountain biking study to be put on ice”.
I found the comments of CEN executive member, Gary Chestnut, to be polarising and disappointing, where he seeks to leverage off the current financial issues of the Council to stop discussion and development of mountain biking activities on the Central Coast.
Indeed, the overall tone was typical of where (a) the commentator has no interest or experience in the activity under discussion but, (b) still has a strongly negative opinion on it.
By way of rebuttal, Council definitely has a role to play in helping develop MTB infrastructure, and partnerships between councils, clubs, and other levels of government are well established.
To suggest that Council should stick to its “core activities” (no detail provided what these are) is short sighted.
Council is representative of all members of the community and without its input the Coast would undoubtedly be a less enjoyable place to live.
Paradoxically, Mr Chestnut then went on to state that the Council should be spending more money on enforcement and surveillance, and criticised Council for not doing this more, citing it as a “dereliction of the Council’s responsibilities”.
This is an unfair assessment given the resources required to take action and prosecute via the courts.
Whilst the building of unauthorised trails is unfortunate (to say the least), the reality is that it is exactly proposals such as this which seek to prevent this occurring in the future.
This isn’t peculiar to mountain biking – when infrastructure is created which is accessible and purpose built then you automatically dissuade unauthorised activity.
Properly built trails can provide an excellent outlet for people to interact, engage in exercise, and support the local economy.
I challenge Mr Chestnut’s comment that engaging riders in the discussion is tantamount to “..leaving the kids in charge of the lolly shop”.
This simply isn’t supported by empirical evidence.
I have seen many excellent partnerships between councils and clubs (and unaffiliated volunteers).
And riders look after these resources because they directly benefit from them.
Please do not blame the actions of the few on all of us.
Mr Chestnut quotes the NSW Local Government Act “..councils should consider the long term and cumulative effects of its actions…(and)…should consider the principles of ecologically sustainable development.”
He somehow makes the spurious link that Council isn’t following this core tenet if it supports the development of mountain biking on Council land.
Simply because a trail is ridden on by a bike does not automatically make it ecologically unsustainable.
There are a combination of factors which interact to determine a trail’s ecological footprint, and the research shows us this.
Well-made trails, that take into account local conditions and are properly administrated, have good longevity and minimal soil disturbance.
I would urge the community to be open minded about this topic – the vast majority of riders are not out in our reserves tearing up the landscape on metal juggernauts.
We just want a safe and accessible place to be social, get active, and enjoy the outdoors.
And to Mr Chestnut, I would urge you to follow your own philosophy per your Facebook page, that is, to “…have open communication and listen to all parties”.
Email, Apr 5
Corran McHugh, Kincumber