Mountain bike enthusiasts in the Hills have welcomed a government commitment to the growing popularity of off-road cycling.
The State Government this week released its “world-class vision for mountain biking in Western Australia”.
The WA Mountain Bike Strategy 2015-2020 was launched on Monday by acting Sport and Recreation Minister Terry Redman and Environment Minister Albert Jacob following consultation with the industry.
Mountain biking is among the world’s fastest growing sport and recreation activities and almost 120,000 mountain bikes are purchased each year in WA.
The strategy highlights the economic, tourism, environmental, health, social and community benefits of mountain biking.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said there were many mountain bike trails in WA, most of which were managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) with community groups.
“The Munda Biddi Trail is the world’s longest continuous off-road cycle trail, which draws tens of thousands of international, interstate and local riders each year,” Mr Jacob said.
“The Kalamunda Mountain Bike Circuit is estimated to have experienced more than 50,000 rides last year.”
Kalamunda Mountain Bike Collective, a not-for-profit group with more than 1500 members, has been involved with the development of the strategy.
Club spokesman Ian Humphrey said the Collective welcomed any support to improve and expand trail networks to serve the 50,000 trips recorded by the club each year, working alongside DPaW.
“It has been a long time coming, and hopefully this will assist mountain biking to obtain both the financial and political support it needs to progress in WA,” Mr Humphrey said.
“Western Australia has previously produced world champions (Sam Hill) in mountain biking, so it’s time to improve the facilities to match.”
Mr Humphrey said Kalamunda trails provided the State’s biggest, most popular and most diverse off-road cycling facilities.
“There is a real sense of community between our 1500 members, which not only encourages physical activity but also helps mental health through (health promotion campaign) Act-Belong-Commit,” Mr Humphrey said.
The Collective is calling on the State to implement the new strategy with more funding to prevent illegal riding and trail building.
“Due to the lack of resources (financial) within DPaW, we haven’t been able to expand or upgrade our trail network for over two years,” Mr Humphreys said.
“This is leading to increased pressure and conflict between the various user groups and stakeholders.”
Several large-scale mountain bike events are held on the Kalamunda trails each year.
Mr Humphrey said the Collective had obtained more than $200,000 for new trails in the Kalamunda network, mostly raised through Lottery grants, and last year alone volunteers raised $50,000 for trail maintenance.
The Shire of Kalamunda recently awarded a tender for the design and research of a loop trail, which will link the localities of Kalamunda, Bickley and Pickering Brook, and a link trail between the Kalamunda Town Centre and the Mundaring Railway Reserve Heritage Trail.
For a copy of the strategy, visit http://www.westcycle.org.au