Trail strategy aims to bond user groups

Sarah IsonBusselton Dunsborough Times

Off-road cyclists, horse riders and walkers have welcomed a Capes-wide trail strategy and hope for better connectivity to towns and beaches and fewer use conflicts.

The Capes Regional Organisation of Councils, which incorporates the City of Busselton and the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, allocated $30,000 last year to employ a consultant to prepare a Capes Regional Trails Strategy.

The strategy aims to “ensure a more co-ordinated approach to trail planning and development and better integration between trails” and follows several incidents in which groups’ interests have clashed, including objects being placed on paths to deter cyclists and conservationists’ concerns about unsanctioned trails.

The Times understands walk, off-road cycling and bridle trails will all be considered and relevant interest groups will be consulted.

Cape Mountain Bikers president Andrew Spencer-Wright pointed to the decade-long negotiation for the Meelup trail as a sign “significant negotiation between the mountain biking and walking community needs to take place”. Margaret River Trail Runners Club president Joe Barker agreed communication between user groups would be essential and hoped it would “bring the right voices to the table and start to promote a dialogue of sharing”.

Trails connecting biking hubs and beaches to towns were identified as a priority by bikers and walkers across the Shire and the City, to increase accessibility between sites.

“There’s only a walking trail from Old Dunsborough Boat Ramp towards Meelup,” Mr Spencer-Wright said. “It’s really important these new strategies will consider including everyone and making it not just easy but also safe to get from town to beaches and so on for both walkers and bikers.”

Busselton Horse and Pony Club secretary Bettina Broekman also shared hopes to increase safety for horse riders. “It would be really nice to have more trails available to riders to prevent them from having to take the horses in floats or to ride on the roads to get between the trails,” she said.

“People (riders) on the roads just aren’t safe and to be honest, I really don’t think drivers want the horses there either.”

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