Cyclists admire the view from The Edgar Bridge on the Queenstown Trail. Concerns have been raised by visitors about the speed some cyclists are travelling on the trail and the danger that potentially poses to walkers. Photo supplied.
Concerns have been raised about the difficulties of cyclists
and walkers sharing the Queenstown Trail, which is barely
three months old, but the trust behind the trail says
measures are being implemented to improve safety.
Pat Hamell and his wife, Fil, have been visiting since
December on their annual three-month holiday from Ireland and
the couple say they have been regularly frightened while out
walking by the speed of cyclists on the trail.
Mr Hamell said those associated with the building of the
trail had done a good job, as they had provided a clearly
However, he said he and his wife felt fortunate not to have
been hit by cyclists, as the speeds they rode at, combined
with the blind corners of the trail, meant there was ''an
accident waiting to happen''.
''So far, I have managed not to be run down, but I feel I am
He said his concern was not just for himself and his wife,
but also for the cyclists themselves, as if they were to fall
the injuries would be serious.
Mr Hamell suggested a bylaw requiring cyclists to carry a
bell to be used 40m behind walkers to warn them.
He also thought reducing the pace of some of the cyclists
would be a good idea and those wishing to race were better
using the roads and specialised tracks.
''If people use it responsibly it would be a fantastic
amenity and used for years to come. It's mainly an education
Queenstown Lakes District Council community services general
manager Paul Wilson said a speed limit for the trail was not
an option, as it would not be enforceable, nor had a bylaw
requiring cycles to have bells been considered.
Queenstown Trails Trust chief executive Kaye Parker there was
no choice but to share the trail and there had to be respect
cyclists and walkers alike.
She said the ''shake-down'' period of the trail was still
unfolding and there would be many more changes in its first
This included signage around blind corners for cyclists and a
possible ''Big Bell'' scheme from the trust, whereby bells
could be bought from the trust by all users and some money
would go towards trail improvements.
Mrs Parker said the trail website included a feedback page,
which she encouraged all users to contribute to.
''We are looking at our signage continually, but we need to
be told first,'' Mrs Parker said.
Although some actions could be taken to decrease risk of
accidents, the topography of the trail's surrounds meant some
of the blind corners were unavoidable.
The trust and the council were investing heavily in signage,
''We knew, for the first summer, we would be constantly
improving the trail.''
She said the key to the trail's shared success was respecting
one another and keeping to the mantra ''stick to the left and
pass on the right''.
Commercial operator of the trail for Around The Basin bike
tours, Steve Norton, sympathised with the Hamells' concerns
but did not believe there was any real danger in cyclists'
speed or manner.
While taking the daytime tours throughout summer, Mr Norton
said he had not seen many walkers on the trail and the
tourist riders he had taken on the track had been ''very
He said trail users would benefit from ''slow down'' signs on
steep downhills, as sometimes cyclists need to be reminded of
''Sometimes cyclists can get a bit selfish and be in their
own head space so need that little reminder.''
Mr Norton's only real concern was about dog owners who
allowed their pets to run in the pathway of trail users and
on to neighbouring farmland.
Although there had been feedback about dogs running in front
of cyclists travelling at high speeds, there was not a
council rule the dog must be on a leash,
Mr Wilson said.
''We think everyone can share the trail. [It] just needs
responsible behaviour from everyone.''