Nelson Mountain Bike Club members Glen Hersey, left, and Jamie Bate by one of the warning signs notifying riders about the closure of tracks.

‘Irresponsible’ riders put track in jeopardy

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A few irresponsible mountainbikers are putting their lives at risk and jeopardising forest trail access for hundreds of other riders by ignoring warning signs and riding into logging areas in the Hira Forest near Nelson.

Last month Hancock Forest Management started new logging operations in the Hira Forest resulting in the temporary closure of a number of trails in the popular Codgers Mountainbike Park.

Warning signs and barriers were erected to keep riders out of the logging areas but the Nelson Mountainbike Club and Hancock are concerned that a “minority” of riders are still ignoring the closures.

Club president Paul Jennings says logging operations are potentially dangerous with trees being felled and heavy machinery operating and it’s not safe for riders. It’s also a problem for the forest managers because they have health and safety plans to follow and need to work in a controlled environment.

“The main concern is the public’s safety,” Paul says. “But that will come at the expense of trail access if we don’t watch it.”

“Last week two riders actually rode on to the skid site while work was taking place. They chose to ignore at least three sets of signs and barriers to do this and Hancock has been speaking to us about the implications of this.”

Paul says the club has a good relationship with Hancock which allows club members, and other permitted riders, access to their forests.

However, Paul is concerned that access will be jeopardised if riders continue to ignore warnings signs and barriers and ride into logging areas.

“It’s a problem for the Nelson Mountain Bike Club and all our members because we work closely with Hancock to get access to its land so we can ride our bikes on it. They don’t have to let us in and we are very glad they do but the safety of its staff and of the general public always comes first.

“Hancock Forest Management has asked that we respect its need to work safely and stay away. Most of us get it we are finding new places to ride and have fun but unfortunately a minority aren’t and it’s become a problem.”

Paul says Hancock has acknowledged that the temporary closures have put pressure on the other trails in the Codgers network so has agreed to give riders 24-7 access to tracks in the Sharlands Rd area during the logging operation.

“This is a big move on their part as it impacts their commercial operation,” he says

Paul says the club has notified all of its 800-plus members about the closures and reminded them of the importance of following the rules. However, the club is concerned that these trails are used by a lot of riders and walkers who aren’t club members and won’t receive the its notices and emails.

“The more who understand the dangers of ignoring logging operation signs and notices the better.”

The trails are expected to be closed until August this year.