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

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