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More bush track traffic splits valley opinion

Dec 14th, 2012 | By | Category: Lead Story, News

A NETWORK of bush tracks just minutes from the city is proving so popular that a new track may soon be added.

The plan has, however, been met with opposition from some local residents.

The Brooklyn Trail Builders and Wellington City Council are proposing a new track to ease the congestion on the Polhill trail network, above Aro Valley.

The network is popular because it is close to town, says Brooklyn Trail Builders’ Craig Starnes.

“You’ve got a huge population of residents in Wellington now right in the CBD with all the apartments, and they don’t have the same places to recreate as if they were out in suburbia.

“With the tracks terminating right at the CBD, it provides a really good avenue for them to get out of the CBD and into native bush really quickly.”

The proposed track will also increase the safety of walkers, who share the track with downhill mountain bikers, he says.

“The new track allows the separation between uphill and downhill mountain bikers, which is fairly key.”

David Halliday, the council’s parks and gardens project officer, says the distinct tracks for the two groups are important.

However Russell Taylor (above) , whose house borders the Polhill Trail network, says the plan has been met with opposition by many Holloway Rd residents.

Instead of looking at a new track, he says, the council should be focusing on maintaining the existing tracks properly.

“How come this council lets mountain bikers do all this stuff, sanctions it, gives them money – our money – when we struggle to get the sewers fixed? To get the drains unblocked?

“What we’re saying is look after what we’ve got, fix the tracks that are there so they are sufficient quality. Why do we need to have this track through some of the most fragile land in the area?”

He also questions whether those who use the trail network provide any benefits to the communities that border them.

“I don’t think that the mountain bike fraternity, the ones that come bush-bashing down and who are wanting the uphill track, will be doing anything to boost the economic activity of the video shop, Aro Bake, or the cafe.”

James Duncan, the manager of Aro Valley bike rental shop Dirt Merchants, disagrees.

“It’s certainly good for my business, and I’d definitely say the cafe owners I’ve spoken to have also said it’s fantastic for them.”

Aro Bake manager Dylan Fuhrer says the mountain bikers are a regular part of the cafe’s weekend rush.

“It’s more on Saturdays, you could go outside the shop and see big groups of bikers.”

If the proposal is approved, the track-building process can take over a year, with each metre of track taking one hour to build.

The track will be built by the Brooklyn Trail Builders, a volunteer group which sources its materials through sponsorship and council funding.

The community consultation process will end early next year.

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is a Whitireia journalism student.
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