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Audit says no major safety concerns at reserves - council

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Extra signage on mountain bike tracks and further separation of biking and walking tracks in Tainui and Hikanui Reserves are two recommendations made in an independent safety audit conducted by Peak Safety last month.

Hastings District Council commissioned the external audit of the mountain bike tracks and shared walking/cycling trails in the reserves to identify and assess any danger risks on the trails.

Although not required as part of the audit, Peak Safety consulted with representatives of the Bennelong Mountain Bike Club, Te Mata Park Trust Board, Tainui Care Group, Friends of Tainui and adjacent neighbours.

Overall, the Tainui and Hikanui Reserves were an asset to the Hawke’s Bay community and the Hastings District Council should be commended for the proactive encouragement of recreational use within these facilities, auditor Mark Woods said.

In terms of user safety, no major safety concerns were identified, although the report recommended signage for the mountain bike trails to identify certain tracks were "Grade 3" (intermediate level as determined by the national Mountain Bikers Code) and to warn users about particular aspects of the track. Other recommendations included collecting data on incidents, improving some of the current signage to ensure cyclists are aware walking trails are closed to them, and carrying out regular track inspections to check the surface conditions. "While this report identifies that there is a level of risk with the current mountain bike trails, that is the nature of the activity and is in line with what is happening with this fast-growing sport throughout New Zealand," Mr Woods said.

In terms of the risk of collisions between cyclists and/or walkers/dogs the report said that where it was possible to completely separate cyclists and walkers this should be done.

"This could potentially be addressed by making the upper part of the shared pathway (on Tainui Reserve) a mountain bike trail and continue this to the top of the reserve.

"This would help reduce current cyclist confusion over how to get to, or return to the start of the cycle track."

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the reserves are intended for everyone to enjoy and she welcomed the findings of the audit.

"This expert advice shows our reserves are in keeping with others around the country and we look forward to talking more to the community about how we continue to improve and make these reserves accessible and safe for all.

"We also encourage users to be mindful of and respectful towards each other while making the most of these beautiful green spaces in our city."

A new temporary sign on the mountain bike tracks will be installed before Christmas.

All options and recommendations in the audit will be discussed with the community during the Reserve Management Plan review process next year.

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