2.0 BACKGROUND

The Wellington region is regarded by many in mountain bike circles as the "Mountain Bike Capital of the World". This is due to a number of factors, including the high quality and wide variety of mountain biking opportunities available. Particularly in recent years, mountain biking has begun to be recognised as a legitimate off road recreational activity in the Wellington region by both land management authorities and the public. In 1994 Wellington City Council produced its original "Off Road Mountain Bike Policy for Wellington" and in 1996 the Wellington Regional Council released its broader scale "Wellington Regional Council Policy on Mountain Biking". Both of these documents recognise the popularity of the activity and provide guidelines for its inclusion as a publicly acceptable use of public land.

The conflicts and impacts (real and perceived) that arise as a result of mountain bike use of public land are well known. They can be defined as:

  1. physical impacts, including track degradation and vegetation disturbance.
  2. social conflicts, including:
    1. actual and perceived risks of injury from accidents involving mountain bikes,
    2. fright or unwanted surprise when confronted with a mountain biker,
    3. mutual discourtesy and hostility between mountain bikers and other users of reserve land,
    4. perception that mountain bikers are incompatible with a natural and tranquil reserve setting.

These impacts and conflicts can be minimised by careful planning and management on the part of the land manager, and a sensitivity to the needs of others on the part of all users of reserve land.

The policy is designed to encourage reserve users to develop a respect for and an understanding of each others needs and rights. The policy recognises that there is a place for mountain biking on reserve land, but that this does not need to be at the expense of other activities.