Milton urged to make the most of cycle trail

Project Bruce staff and others including (from left) Stephanie Daniel, Rachael Russell and Kim...
Project Bruce staff and others including (from left) Stephanie Daniel, Rachael Russell and Kim Schiller are pushing bike initiatives for Milton. PHOTO: NICK BROOK
Milton needs to get into gear to make the most of Clutha Gold, promoters say.

Locals agreed high activity on the recently completed Clutha Gold cycle trail presented "big opportunities" to be addressed quickly.

Local cyclist Rachael Russell hosted a guesthouse booked online by "bikepackers".

"Our guests say they’d like more options and services when they get here," she said.

"More accommodation, places to eat with takeaway and delivery. More places to visit and things to do, bike maintenance and shuttle services ... even just bike racks, signage and welcome information to help out when they arrive."

There were four bicycles leaning against the Forum Cafe at 11am last Thursday.

"There are definitely more people moving through Milton now," proprietor Kerry Wilson said.

Noeline Milne, of the Milton Information Centre, was able to provide broad data.

"We had 550 more visitors than the previous year," she said.

"It is weather dependent but we certainly get Gold Trail users dropping in for clarification on directions and advice."

Project Bruce community development worker Kim Schiller said organisations including Tokomairiro High School were inspired to make Milton "a cycling hotspot".

"Looking out the window [from the Tokomairiro Hub on Union St, Milton] we see traffic on the Gold Trail throughout the day [and] exciting times lie ahead," Mrs Schiller said.

"Lawrence and Maniototo were blown away by the success of the Otago Central Rail Trail, and the growth of cycling as a leisure activity among local people shows the potential for Milton to become a prime cycling destination.

"We’ve heard inspired ideas for a pump track and bike trails in the hills. By positioning ourselves as a vibrant, cycle-friendly hub we can boost business engagement and overall town appeal.

"At the moment our appeal to cyclists is a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg situation — cyclists won’t come in numbers until there are abundant services, but investors are hesitant until they see growing numbers of cyclists."

Project Bruce would be hosting a "brainstorming" session at the Tokomairiro community Hub at 7pm on February 28.

"It will be a platform for anyone to share thoughts, suggestions and aspirations for our town’s development," Mrs Schiller said.