Response to Vision of the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges as an International Mountain Biking Destination

We have made a submission to the Government of South Australia in regards to their proposal developing the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges as an international mountain biking destination.

WalkingSA logo19 December 2014

The Honourable Ian Hunter, MLC
Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation
GPO Box 1047
ADELAIDE SA 5001

Dear Minister,

Re: Visioning Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges as an International Mountain Biking Destination: Response to stakeholder consultation meeting October 2014.

In October 2014, Walking SA was invited to attend a stakeholder meeting to discuss “Developing the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges as an International Mountain Biking Destination”.

We appreciate the opportunity that was offered at this meeting to provide feedback about the potential benefits and risks of progressing this concept.

As the peak body for all forms of walking in South Australia, Walking SA is fully supportive of actions that will showcase our State. We believe visioning the Mount Lofty Ranges as an international recreation destination and promoting a broad range of activities has great merit, given the close proximity to our city, the accessibility and natural beauty of the area.

However, we strongly recommend that any proposal to raise the profile of the Mount Lofty Ranges as an international recreation destination must be inclusive of walking.

The Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges already has an outstanding network of quality walking trails and shared use corridors that provide great recreational opportunities for walkers and horse riders, as well as mountain bike riders.

A limited recreational vision for the future of the Mount Lofty Ranges – i.e. primarily as a Mountain Biking Destination – misses the potential for broader development and promotion of the region as an exciting opportunity for local, national and international visitors to explore the region in different ways.

Walking SA proposes three key principles (and associated risks) for consideration in future recreational planning in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

1. Safety and enjoyment of everyone – i.e. local and international walkers, riders and mountain-bike riders who access the Mt Lofty Ranges for recreation:

There is a significant speed differential between different types of users on shared trails, particularly for walkers and downhill mountain bikes. Heavy or fast bicycle use on ostensibly shared trails can discourage walking, particularly for older walkers or those with hearing or sight impediments. Similarly, large crowds of walkers or sightseers on a trail can impede cyclists.

Trails designed for downhill mountain bike riding cannot be regarded as suitable for walkers. Therefore, a well-planned mix of trail types needs to be provided to cater for the diverse needs and abilities within the community.

2. Environmental impact

Degradation of narrow, vulnerable bush walking trails increases when tracks are opened up to multi-purpose use. Mountain bike riding is much more likely than walking to produce ‘gullying’ and water flow along tracks, leading to erosion or ponding. Careful planning, trail design and regular monitoring will be critical to all future development, particularly if the Ranges are promoted primarily as a mountain bike destination.

3. Cost of building and maintaining trails

Walking infrastructure is relativity inexpensive and in many cases already exists. The requirements for mountain bike tracks will be significantly more expensive to construct and maintain. Funding for the development and maintenance of a variety of trails will provide a greater return on investment in terms of both health benefits and tourism.

In conclusion, Walking SA suggests that the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges should be promoted as an INTERNATIONAL WALK / RIDE / BIKE DESTINATION which offers fantastic opportunities for walkers, mountain bikers, off-road cyclists, back road cyclists and horse riders.

The focus of promotion could be the range of opportunities so close to a major city. Maps and descriptors could be made of trails and routes that could be explored in different ways. Casual and more serious adventures could be promoted. Linking of food and wine outlets, and overnight stays, could feature.

A broader and more inclusive focus would ultimately attract larger numbers of international visitors.

Walking SA is supportive of further inclusive development of the Mount Lofty Ranges to encourage a greater variety of recreational activity and enjoyment, boost tourism and promote positive health outcomes.

Please contact Walking SA if we can be of further assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Dannielle McBeath
Executive Officer
Walking SA

Verdun Bridge Feasibility Study Final Report

The Pioneer Women’s Trail was completed in 2007 but remains incomplete near the Hills trailhead until the best location for a pedestrian/cycling bridge to span the Onkaparinga River can be determined. This bridge will then enable the trailhead to be located in Pioneer Park, Hahndorf.

The final report, including maps, images and plans can be viewed at walkingsa.org.au/verdunbridge.

The bridge on Sandow Road Reserve will provide strategic links to the Heysen Trail, the Amy Gillett trail and to the proposed trailhead at Pioneer Park, Hahndorf and will allow the Pioneer Women’s Trail to be completed from Silver Road to Hahndorf.

PLB_SandowURR_Bridgesite preview

The Pioneer Women’s Trail commemorates the pioneer women and girls who, soon after arriving in 1838, walked overnight from Hahndorf to hawk their produce in Adelaide. They continued to make this journey for almost two decades, leaving at midnight to walk 35 kilometres along a rough bush track. At 4.00 am they would reach a small stream in the foothills near Beaumont, wash their sore feet and tidy themselves before walking into Adelaide to hawk their produce. They would then purchase needles and thread, sugar, tea, tobacco for their menfolk and carry two bricks each to build a new church at Hahndorf.

Walking SA received a grant from the Office for Recreation & Sport SA (ORS) in 2004 for the planning and installation of the Pioneer Women’s Trail. The trailhead for the section of the Pioneer Women’s Trail completed in 2007 commences at Verdun.

The Bridge Feasibility Study recommends an optimal location for the bridge on Sandow Road, Verdun and an innovative and cost-effective bridge design.

A further grant from the Office for Recreation and Sport made under the Community Recreational and Sports Facilities Program in 2013 enabled Walking SA to engage an independent consultant, Meechi Road to explore the optimal site for a pedestrian/cycling bridge across the Onkaparinga River and to engage a bridge engineer, Christiane Husmann of Magryn Engineering, to prepare plans for a crossing at the preferred site.

The Bridge Feasibility Study recommends an optimal location for the bridge on Sandow Road, Verdun and an innovative and cost-effective bridge design. It also identifies the remaining challenges that lie ahead before bridge construction can proceed and before the Pioneer Women’s Trail can be completed to Hahndorf.

The challenge will be to attract sufficient funds

This feasibility study concluded that the bridge will be a cost effective addition to the Adelaide Hills Trails Network and will provide a safe crossing of the Onkaparinga River – especially as the peak of river flooding corresponds with the peak of walking activity. A cheaper, “fair weather” crossing such as a ford or stepping stones is also not recommended due to the proximity to the nearby Hills Christian School, Verdun. The bridge on Sandow Road Reserve will provide strategic links to the Heysen Trail, the Amy Gillett trail and to the proposed trailhead at Pioneer Park, Hahndorf and will allow the Pioneer Women’s Trail to be completed from Silver Road to Hahndorf. However several pinch points along Onkaparinga Valley Road between Sandow Road and the existing Silver Road trailhead are of concern and will need to be addressed. An easement from Heysen Road entrance to “The Cedars” through to Sandow Road Reserve – while not essential will eliminate the need to use the two short triangular sections of Redden Road currently used by the Heysen Trail. This possible easement will need to be negotiated by District Council of Mt Barker.

The challenge will be to attract sufficient funds from a future Community Recreation and Sport Facilities Program and other State and Federal Government grants, from Adelaide Hills Council and District Council of Mt Barker and from corporate sponsorship to bring Christiane Husmann’s bridge design to fruition and link the Pioneer Women’s Trail to the Adelaide Hills Trails Network.

The final report, including maps, images and plans can be viewed at walkingsa.org.au/verdunbridge.

John Eaton
Project Manager, Verdun Bridge Feasibility Study
Walking SA

Welcome to our new website

Our new website has been launched.

This website has been possible through a grant from the Office for Recreation and Sport, under the Be Active progam.

You’re just two feet from some of the best places in South Australia.

Response to the “Integrated Transport and Land Use Plan”

In October 2013 the Government of South Australia released its Integrated Transport and Land Use Plan, and called for comment on the plan. Walking SA provided the following comment submission. When submissions closed on January 17, 2014, the government said they had received an overwhelming response, with 1,500 submissions, and 2,500 attendees to public information sessions.

Cate Mettam, Walking SA Chair, said:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important and long-awaited plan.

It is pleasing to note the many bold measures that are part of this plan, adding to the ones that are underway or have been already achieved. It is also clear that for these important investments to prove worthwhile, they need to be backed by a commitment to make South Australia a desirable place to walk. Put simply, a walkable environment is one that is attractive to live, work and play, desirable economically, efficient in its use of resources, and sustainable into the future.

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