Victorian MTB Representation

hungrytiger

Likes Dirt
I first started MTBing in Victoria 5 years ago. There has been alot of trail development in the tourist areas since then, but the metropolitan area had 2 MTB parks then..... and still has only 2 now. We compare unfavorably with Canberra and Adelaide in terms of access to MTB facilities and yet we have many more residents. Despite this , we actually have lots of areas where MTB is "tolerated"; we just cannot seem to get these areas formalised. Some areas have formed local groups to pursue this, others cannot see the point; typically the active clubs are small groups of dedicated people who represent a fraction of the actual mtb trail users.

Advocacy groups like YRMTB, LDTR and RHR are relatively recent phenomona, whereas other park user/advocacy groups like VNPA (bushwalkers) are statewide, well organised and carry some weight with their membership numbers. The Melbourne Regional Director of Parks Victoria spoke at the LDTR AGM and said we had to start working together - the example he used was the Victorian 4WD club, who apparently have been successful in advocating for their interests because they speak with one voice as a state based body. Our more localised advocacy groups are good up to a point, but there comes a time when some additional weight is required. MTBA don't seem too interested and IMBA works on a "user pays" model, which is better suited to tourist destinations like Buller with lots of cash (not to mention Nick has just resigned).

The crux of the matter is these metropolitan MTB areas where there is absolutely zero tourist development dollars and many competing user groups. So there are no real incentives here and for many land managers there are disincentives i.e. MTB is perceived by many of them still as a highly risky and litigous sport, so why bother? There seems to be no state user group trying to convince them otherwise.

I've posted this here to see if anyone else has experience of how this has worked in other states? Are there any examples of wider area advocacy cooperatives (for want of a better term) or state based MTB advocacy groups that might show there is an alternative way to deal with these state based land managers in a more strategic way?

Any suggestions welcomed.
 

Jessarpi

Squid

hungrytiger

Likes Dirt
I can not answer your questions directly... but this is along the lines of what you are seeking.

Arthurs Seat State Park - Proposed Mountain Bike Trail Network (RED HILL - VICTORIA)
Has just gone to public proposal.

http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/arthurs-seat-state-park/plans-and-projects/arthurs-seat-sp-mountain-bike-network

Here is the discussion paper:
http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/626412/ASSP-Proposed-Mountain-Bike-Network-Discussion-Paper.pdf
Thanks. Thats great that they have got this to the consultation stage, will be interesting to see what happens.
 

caad9

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Without knowing too many intricate details of what it takes, I'd say on most occasions the local councils/parks etc make it too much of an issue for anything worthwhile to happen.
Plenty of areas are 'going through the process', but each one of them has been under this status for many years.

I can't commend the local groups enough, they are doing the work so that 95% of people can ride without any responsibility in the world.

Where I ride there are some incredible MTB tracks around, but due to 'the process' no one can go in and touch them.
With the seriously hot summer we had, tracks are falling to bits.

I'm also going to go out on a limb here and will offend plenty, but the move towards longer travel bikes is destroying tracks quicker than they can be built.
 

hungrytiger

Likes Dirt
Without knowing too many intricate details of what it takes, I'd say on most occasions the local councils/parks etc make it too much of an issue for anything worthwhile to happen.
Plenty of areas are 'going through the process', but each one of them has been under this status for many years.

I can't commend the local groups enough, they are doing the work so that 95% of people can ride without any responsibility in the world.

Where I ride there are some incredible MTB tracks around, but due to 'the process' no one can go in and touch them.
With the seriously hot summer we had, tracks are falling to bits.

I'm also going to go out on a limb here and will offend plenty, but the move towards longer travel bikes is destroying tracks quicker than they can be built.
That's a familiar story. The question is would we be doing any better at getting access if we had a lobby group that represented all the riders/advocacy groups in our state?
 

pistonbroke

Eats Squid
That's a familiar story. The question is would we be doing any better at getting access if we had a lobby group that represented all the riders/advocacy groups in our state?
I think the answer is yes. I think the key to success in these areas is government funding. Funding allows you to call in the pros who are experts in making awesome, sustainable trails.
I think a state lobby group would be better at dealing with government agencies than small local groups.
One of the problems is membership. A lot of mtb riders are members of clubs. I'm a member of the Geelong club and they do a great job, around Geelong. But I do most of my riding on the Yarra trails or Wombat. They have no interest in the development of the Yarra trails network.
I don't think people will want to pay to join another group to represent us.

Vnpa has been mentioned as a bush walkers group. This is not the case. They are more of a greens lobby group who are trying to lock up all our state forests and national parks. It's easy to get people to sign up to these groups as they just go around playing the cute furry endangered species card and all the inner city hipsters sign up and Wham, you've got a powerful lobby group.

As for how you start? I think that's easy. Just call yourself some generic name and go from there.

Coming up to a state election is a great time. Pollies are looking for votes and will splash the cash if they thinks it's a popular move. You just need to be in the right place at the right time. Last election the dse got $5,000,000 to do a Trail Bike Initiative. They totally stuffed it and destroyed every area they touched. So be careful what you wish for.
But the money is out there. Another $5,000,000 spent on mtb trails would go a long way. Folks like Dirt Art can do amazing things with that kind if money.
I guess it would require some kind of formal proposal to get an area like Candlebark Park devolved into a dedicated mtb facility. Anyone done that kind of thing before?
 

ando_assi

Likes Dirt
I kinda Disagree with you...

I agree that we need a high level advocate, but just throwing money at pro trail builders gets us no where...
(they would have to go back every 3 months)

You need to have a grass level advocacy body (like IMBA)
 

caad9

Likes Bikes and Dirt
I'll be happy with any progress made in terms of MTB approval throughout Australia.
One problem I have is with the many folk who pour their heart and soul into creating some of our favourite trails.

All the big trail building companies do a great job, but what happens once they have been paid?

I'd prefer a local guy/team to slowly weave his/their magic and continuously be allowed to adjust/mend/create his masterpiece.

Even better when it costs nothing in terms of government/parks etc
 

ando_assi

Likes Dirt
You can get approval, its not that hard, but it is very time consuming...

That's not the hard bit, we need PV or DSE to put out the Vic MTB strategy, that they have been talking about (and paid for) for years and years!
 

hungrytiger

Likes Dirt
Let's not get hung up on who actually builds and maintains the trails, both approaches have worked. This is about getting trails formalised and advocating for that. All the land managers and decision makers here are state based bodies. We dont seem to be engaging them on that level: its either dozens of small advocacy groups at one extreme or a national body that has little interest in this stuff at the other extreme. I don't see other interest groups organising in this way. IMBA may have fit the bill, but membership numbers are very low and the way MTBA set it up meant that it was a case of chasing big contracts once the seed funding ran out.
 

hungrytiger

Likes Dirt
You can get approval, its not that hard, but it is very time consuming...

That's not the hard bit, we need PV or DSE to put out the Vic MTB strategy, that they have been talking about (and paid for) for years and years!
What strategy is this?
 

caad9

Likes Bikes and Dirt
I was looking at it more from the allocation of money or lack thereof.
Pretty cost effective when locals maintain it.

I'd also like to hear more about the strategy?
 

ando_assi

Likes Dirt
There was talk of the Vic Gov putting out a MTB strategy, there was even a expression of interest in the paper a few years ago, haven't heard anything since..
 

The Duckmeister

Has stumpy thumbs, Speciaized are so weird
There was talk of the Vic Gov putting out a MTB strategy, there was even a expression of interest in the paper a few years ago, haven't heard anything since..
My impression from having the local PV head ranger speak to us at the RHR AGM a couple of weeks ago is that the strategy is pretty well adopted within PV, which has contributed a lot to the Arthurs Seat proposal that jessarpi mentioned previously. It should get easier for other clubs & trail advocates to develop new networks from now on. :smile:
 

The Duckmeister

Has stumpy thumbs, Speciaized are so weird
Thanks. Thats great that they have got this to the consultation stage, will be interesting to see what happens.
This public consultation phase is the final hurdle - Parks Vic and the Department of Scorched Earth (or whatever they are now) are onside, so it's now purely public response that determines the outcome of the proposal. My understanding is that once the consultation phase is complete, PV cannot drag their feet - they must act whichever way is appropriate according to public response in a fairly timely manner. The aim, according to our local head ranger, is to have this sorted before the State election we must have later this year, while we have a favourable minister.
 

caad9

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Having a park ranger onside is a must.

Having thought about this more throughout the day, it would be very handy to be able to see where certain legalisation projects are at.
I'd imagine 80% of riders would have very little idea of the various areas that are 'in the process'
How do people add their support to a project they don't know exists?
 
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