Canberra’s mountain bike trail network badly needs new investment if the ACT is to remain competitive as a destination for the booming sport, according to a new report.
The draft Canberra Mountain Bike Report, prepared for ACT Parks and Conservation Service and out for public comment, says Canberra aspires to be the mountain bike capital of Australia but needed new, unique and challenging trails, supporting infrastructure and services at existing trail hubs and a marketing campaign.
It says interstate riders spend around $30 million each year in Canberra, attracted by a combination of high-quality trails, natural scenery, world-class attractions, and a vibrant cycling culture.
Canberra’s proximity to Sydney and regional NSW, and the attraction of the city to international visitors, presents a significant opportunity for growth, the report says.
But Stromlo Forest Park is the ACT’s only purpose-built mountain bike park, with other trails built and managed by volunteers, mainly in plantation forests that are subject to harvesting.
The ACT lacks trails that offer at least two days of riding for interstate visitors, ‘hero’ or aspirational trails that make it a compelling destination and elevated trails when compared to other destinations.
The report notes that there has been a flurry of development in other jurisdictions, including purpose-built trails and facilities that are well funded, managed and promoted.
It says the new trails should be located in the area between Stromlo Forest Park and the Cotter Recreation Reserve, the Cotter Recreation Area and the Blue Range Area in Uriarra Forest.
”These areas offer significant potential for trail-based recreation and proximity to the city and suburbs makes it ideally suited for walking, hiking, trail running and mountain biking,” the report says.
”Stromlo Forest Park will act as the ‘gateway’ to these new trails offering high-quality infrastructure, shuttle services and an event staging area.”
The report says there is significant interest from the private sector to stage mountain bike events in the ACT but consistent trail standards, high-quality trailhead facilities and trail improvements are required.
”The lack of a coordinated approach to the development of mountain biking, trail maintenance and marketing is limiting the potential of the ACT to become an international mountain bike destination,” the report says.
The report also recommends a phased and prioritised approach to trail development, strategic plans to account for harvesting and trail development activities in plantation forests, and consistent signage across all mountain bike hubs.
It says Canberra should pursue International Mountain Bicycling Association Ride Centre status and develop a Mountain Bike Capital of Australia brand as part of the CBR CycleTourism marketing strategy.