Mountain bikers call for investment in track facilities

The mountain biking track on Signal Hill draws up to 1500 riders, walkers and runners to the area each week, Mountain Biking Otago says. Photo: Craig Baxter
The mountain biking track on Signal Hill draws up to 1500 riders, walkers and runners to the area each week, Mountain Biking Otago says. Photo: Craig Baxter
Mountain Biking Otago is seeking backing for an ''iconic'' track for Dunedin - even though it plans to pay for it itself.

The organisation is also urging the Dunedin City Council to boost funding for the council's parks and reserves department, to improve lagging track maintenance in the city, and invest in a new toilet at the top of Signal Hill.

Glyn Howell, of Mountain Biking Otago, told councillors the development of trails on Signal Hill had proved hugely successful, and up to 1500 riders, walkers and runners now use the area each week.

The group had, in the past 23 years, developed a 50km network of tracks around the city, worth more than $1.5million in development costs.

On Signal Hill, that included a variety of runs and a new car park, the finishing touches to which were just being added.

The group was now eyeing its plan for a 3-Peaks trail, spanning 50km from Whare Flat across Swampy Summit, Mt Cargill and Signal Hill.

The section from the bottom of Signal Hill to the top had already been completed, and the Department of Conservation had granted approval for another section, from Signal Hill to Cleghorn St.

Mr Howell said the 3-Peaks track would cater for riders, walkers and runners, link with other established tracks in the area and help draw more visitors to the city.

The group was ''fairly resourceful'' and confident of raising the funds needed for the project itself, but encouraged the council to commit funds in the other areas it had identified as priorities.

Group president Kristy Booth said improved facilities would help a sport that was on a high in the city.

Dunedin would host the national secondary school championships later this year, and about 900 riders were expected to take part, delivering about $1million-$1.2million to the city's economy.

Such was the interest, numbers had been capped to ensure the logistics of the event were manageable, she said.

The request could be considered when councillors deliberate on the submissions later this month.

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