A Queenstown mountain bike veteran wants a ranger to oversee safety once gondola access lifts off.
Tony Moore predicts a ten-fold increase in riders of all abilities when Skyline Enterprises opens its cable-
way for mountain bikers to access Ben Lomond Reserve trails next year.
“There’ll be foreigners here who come from a litigious society where you sue and blame everyone else for your mistakes,” he says.
Moore is worried those people could cause problems if an accident results from a fallen log or an eroded track.
“The main concern is we don’t lose a community asset. We want to do it right.”
Moore says when punters pay for a product, they expect a level of safety – he thinks a ranger is a must.
“If Skyline are clipping the tickets and making money out if it, they need to make sure they’re a part of, not necessary responsible for, ensuring that hill is well managed.”
A management agreement between leaseholders Skyline and Queenstown Lakes District Council states Skyline is responsible for lugging bikes up the hill and building and maintaining a beginner-level 6km perimeter trail. But the forest is council domain – and QLDC forester Briana Pringle says they don’t have funds for a ranger.
Queenstown Mountain Bike Club chairman Lance Brown has introduced the idea of a rostered volunteer patrol.
At a meeting of interested parties last Tuesday, about 12 people put up their hands to don a uniform, familiarise riders with tracks, monitor intersections, identify dangers and enforce regulations.
Skyline boss Jeff Staniland says the company’s forking out close to $100,000 for tracks, plus more to make cabins bike-compatible.
“We’re spending an awful lot up front and don’t know how many tickets we’re going to sell. Right now we’re not making any money.”
Staniland says since the council takes a cut of every dollar Skyline earns, he hopes that cash will be invested back into Bob’s Peak in the future.
QLDC is putting signage on tracks and designating evacuation areas to ensure rider safety.