Cockburn town council set to ban mountain bikes in Manning Park
The town of Cockburn is just one step and just hours away from imposing a controversial, total ban on mountain bikes using the popular trails through Spearwood’s Manning Park.
Despite once having the idea of turning Manning Park into a playing card for mountain bikers, Cockburn Council have been told to close all unauthorized trails through the park and implement a ban that would come into effect after next summer.
The recommendation presented at Thursday night’s council meeting has enraged some members of a task force investigating the best way for mountain bikers and nature to co-exist in Manning Park.
Mark Santo, who represented the Mountain Bike Riding Group on the Manning Park Trails City community engagement group, said the group provided five trail recommendations, none of which involved ending trails.
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He told PerthNow he felt city officials had “completely ignored” the group’s ideas when making their recommendation.
“I felt there was an opportunity to share with the community engagement group that not all mountain bikers are hooligans and unauthorized trail builders; that many of us are eco-friendly, supportive of the local community and the ecological and cultural significance of our great park,” Santo said.
“Before last Friday, there was no indication from council that (Manning Park’s mountain bike ban) was even a consideration.
“Having participated in the Manning Park Trails community engagement group, I was acutely aware that the group did not agree with banning mountain biking in the park or for all existing ‘unauthorized’ trails to be removed.”
The Engagement Group’s report stated that if permitted trails were to be constructed in Manning Park, the City would need to follow the DBCA’s eight-step trail planning process. A full assessment of the biodiversity and environmental value of the site should be undertaken, as well as an assessment of indigenous and European heritage.
Mr Santo said removing existing trails would not only deprive mountain bikers, but also trail runners, hikers, orienteering groups and the local TAFE who practice bushcraft in the park.
“The council’s deeming these trails to be mountain bike trails only confirms that they don’t understand the different user groups that use them,” he said.
Officers’ recommendation to the City is to exclude mountain bikes from Manning Park, except designated bike paths, effective March 1, 2023, and to allow the City to close and remove all bike paths unauthorized Manning Park.
Manning Park Trail Runners leader Clint Slomp was also part of the community engagement group and said the city’s impending decision could “rip the hearts out” of his group of runners.
“Our findings from the community engagement group were that we wanted to get real scientific evidence of what is really going on in the park so we can make a decision on how best to move forward and whether the trails would be or not the best thing to do,” Mr. Slomp said.
“But the officer totally backtracked on our recommendations. Even with the avid conservationists and wildlife folks, they never mentioned Manning Park’s trail closures and mountain biking ban.
“It’s like we’ve wasted so many hours of our time doing all these meetings for them to turn around and do whatever they want anyway.”
The Town of Cockburn will make its decision on whether to ban mountain bikes and unauthorized cycle paths from Manning Park at its monthly council meeting on Thursday evening.