A half-a-kilometre-long extension of the popular Stromlo Forest Park criterium cycling track is underway to help keep cyclists and competitors safe.
That’s because the works, which will commence soon and are expected to be completed by September, will mean cyclists entering the park will no longer need to compete with cars on the busy entry road.
Instead, cyclists will be able to join the circuit directly from the old Urriara Road. An 80-metre link will also be built between the track and Stromlo Leisure Centre.
The six-metre-wide extension track will be able to be used for racing and triathlons, thanks to a consultation process with Auscycling to ensure it meets competition standards.
Special Minister of State Chris Steel described Stromlo’s criterium circuit as a “very popular training and racing facility”.
“As Canberra continues to grow, it’s important we also keep growing our great professional and community sports facilities like Stromlo Forest Park to meet local and visitor needs,” he said.
Mr Steel noted it would be particularly important for triathlons as it would mean competitors leaving the pool could directly access the rest of the park and complete the cycling and running legs of their races.
“It’s part of the government’s investment to enhance the already world-class facility for cycling, running, swimming and other activities,” he said.
“The work will be completed in time for some major events at the park.”
Some of those – including triathlons and mountain biking events – can draw in thousands of visitors at a time.
National Arboretum and Stromlo Forest Park executive branch manager Scott Saddler said the biggest change once the works are completed would be safety.
“It’s going to be a huge support for the biking community, especially because people won’t need to ride through on the road anymore,” he said.
Mr Saddler said there hadn’t been any accidents yet, but there had been a number of near misses on the road.
Work to repair and resurface the dirt car park asphalt is also expected to begin soon.
An average of 560,00 people go through Stromlo Forest Park every year, with the facility only growing in popularity.
Mr Saddler last year said the long-term strategy for the park was all about increasing those visitor numbers by not only building new trails and facilities but also maintaining and upgrading existing ones to make them safer.
Last year, three major mountain biking trails underwent a facelift as the Territory emerged slowly from the August lockdown and exercise hours were increased.
New tunnels and jumps meant the trails could cross over one another and congestion on the popular tracks could be somewhat eased.
Mr Saddler also noted at the time that the demographic of Stromlo was changing thanks to the building of new facilities like the leisure centre as well as pump tracks for the kids.
“People bring their bikes along, they come to the pool for a swim or use the gym, so it’s turning out to be a multifaceted institution,” he said.
“Before, you’d see a bloke come out by himself, or maybe bring his son, but now it’s whole families who are coming out to get amongst it.”
The popularity of the annual Stromlo Running Festival – which attracted around 2300 registrations for its latest sold-out event – also continues to grow.