4. Demand (The Needs of Riders)
4.1 Over 30 percent of adult Wellingtonians participated in mountain biking and other forms of cycling in 1993. Mountain biking or cycling is an activity which another 9 percent would like to participate in. Most bicycle sales in the Region in recent years are of mountain bikes.
4.2 Mountain biking is particularly popular in the Wellington Town Belt and some regional parks and recreation areas, namely: Battle Hill, Belmont and East Harbour (coastal road), Tunnel Gully and Rimutaka Incline. On Rimutaka Incline, mountain bike riders represent 80 percent of visitors. (Refer Appendix 2.)
4.3 A range of events meet some of the specific needs of novice and expert riders. The Big Coast and the Karapoti Classic are the largest mountain bike events of their type in New Zealand.
4.4 Riders will travel considerable distances to do certain rides, however proximity to home is an important consideration for many who use the bike as their means of conveyance to parks. Riders apparently make little use of public transport as it generally excludes the conveyance of bikes. The advice received by the Forum is that women in particular would benefit from improved public transport and the provision of cycle trails close to urban areas or public transport routes.
4.5 Mountain biking attracts people from all age groups and from both sexes. While overall, women represent 30 percent of riders, from place to place the ratio varies greatly. In some places the ratio resembles that of the population as a whole. Places where the riders' age and gender ratios most closely resemble the regional population tend to be easy rides within close proximity to urban areas. (Refer Appendix 2.)
4.6 At least three categories of riders have been described by the Department of Conservation, based on an analysis of riders' abilities and preferences (refer Figure 2). These groups are differentiated in terms of their motivations, track preferences, and riding styles. However, all groups have the following general preferences:
Principal motivation: appreciation of views, scenery and nature; exploration; riding and socialising with friends. (novices seek exercise and fitness while experts seek speed excitement and challenge).
Ride features: undulating routes; forest settings; smooth, fast, open tracks; viewpoints; rides of 2-3 hours. (novices seek easy rides on smooth open tracks while experts seek the challenge of narrow and difficult tracks). Gradient, width, surface and turning are important characteristics of tracks which affect their attractiveness for riders.
Landscape types: native forest and bush.
Social encounter: avoidance of motor vehicles.
4.7 Land managers need to recognise the main needs and aspirations of the identifiable groups in order to understand and manage existing effects and provide for the needs of mountain bike riders in general.
4.8 A general perception of park managers is that the existing trail infrastructure provides an abundance of rides suitable for experienced or expert riders but relatively few for novices. In particular there are very few rides suitable for novices which are in the preferred native forest and bush setting.
4.9 Those existing tracks which have the most significance for riders will need priority in the implementation of mountain bike policy. Opportunities to fill significant gaps in the existing available infrastructure should be investigated. This may include tracks between parks and important places such as transport hubs, as well as tracks within parks. Some gaps in the infrastructure may best be provided on private land.
The reasonable needs of all types of riders are provided for within the Region, consistent with the principles and policies of this plan.
Investigate the various needs of mountain bike riders, including their environmental preferences, track types and the most valued locations (General).
Recognise the significance and potential of the entire Big Coast route for mountain biking and tourism and investigate means for its ongoing use and management (General).
Recognise the potential of the Regional Coastal Trail concept as a basis for developing coastal mountain biking opportunity (General).
Consider the special needs of novice or less ambitious riders and how these needs can be realised within a regional track network. Investigate a possible route for a novice/easy ride through a forested setting (WRC).
Accord special significance to the following tracks for mountain bike riding and seek to manage them as multiple use tracks on a sustainable basis, subject to management plan policies already in place (WRC) (Refer to Map):
- Rimutaka Incline Historic Rail Route
- Karapoti Classic Route
- Pencarrow Coast Road
- Korokoro Stream Track
- Belmont Trig Track
Recognise the importance and potential of the Hutt River Trail for mountain biking including managing and promoting its multiple use. (WRC).
Table 1 : Mountain Bike Rider Preferences for Recreation Settings and Experiences
Setting/Experience Novice/Beginner/Casual More Experienced Off-Road Expert Off-Road Attributes Riders Riders Riders General preference for appreciating views/scenery/nature; exploring new areas; and riding/socialising with friends. Preferred features of mountain The attribute of Attributes of Increased preference amongst bike riding exercise/fitness is particularly speed/excitement/risk; physical expert riders for (as rated by riders) important for these riders. challenge; skill/technical speed/excitement/risk; challenge; and developing and skill/technical challenge, and improving skills become more racing/training (latter reflects important for these riders. race-entry sample selection). General preference for undulating routes; forest settings; smooth/fast/open tracks; good scenery/viewpoints; and rides of 2-3 hours . Statements of most preferred Prefer gradual/easy uphills; Preference for technical Increased preference for riding features. tracks being smooth/easy/open; difficulty/challenge; downhills technical difficulty/challenge; (from open-ended question) tracks being not difficult/few being fast/smooth/open and downhills being obstructions; and rides 1-2 fast/technical/tight; harder fast/technical/tight; and hours duration. uphills; and tight/narrow/winding tight/narrow/winding single- track. single-track. Landscape Preferences Riders strongly preferred to avoid motorised vehicles, and walkers (to a lesser extent). Most are tolerant of meeting other riders. Greater preference for sealed Emphasis shifts to Distinguished by much stronger Track-Type Preferences roads, and more tolerant of less-developed routes, and preference for single-track. gravel roads. Much lower single-track in particular. preferences for single-track. Track Condition and Difficulty Greater preference for tracks Preference for rougher Similar preferences for rougher Preferences which are tracks/more obstacles; and tracks, but less interest in wet smooth/benched/open/clear. Much rougher/uneven/tight/narrow conditions and mud. Even more tracks. More tolerance for tolerance for pushing/carrying lower preference for pushing/carrying bikes. bikes. obstructions/difficulties on tracks, or for pushing/carrying bikes. Downhill Attribute Preferences Strong preference for Preference for Increased preference for slow/gentle/easy downhills. fast/rough/technical downhills. downhills which are Least preference for Increased preference for fast/rough/tight and speed/excitement/risk. speed/excitement/risk. slow/steep/more technical, and for speed/excitement/risk. Uphill Attribute Preferences Strong preference for Increased preference for more gradual/easy/relaxed uphills. Increased preference for difficult uphills with uphills with short/hard/steep short/hard/steep sections, and sections. Little specific climbs which are preference for easy uphills. long/hard/steep. Social Encounter Attribute Riders strongly preferred to avoid motorised vehicles, and walkers (to a lesser extent). Most Preferences are tolerant of meeting other riders.
From: Cessford, G. R. (1995b). Reproduced with the permission of the Department of Conservation.