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Facilities Needed as Popularity of Mountain Bike Riding Surges

By Nicola Smith on November 29, 2021 in News

Fred Humphreys getting plenty of air at Varna Park during lockdown. Photo: John Humphreys

Back in May 2020, The Beast satire columnist Kieran Blake penned a piece about a mountain bike track in Centennial Park. While the article was very much satirical, the community response to the story left us wondering whether the Eastern Suburbs could benefit from such a track.
During the latest Sydney lockdowns, mountain biking became a popular activity for children, particularly the demographic of kids who have graduated from the pop-up pedal parks but aren’t yet interested in speeding around Centennial Park’s Grand Drive in lycra at more than 30 clicks.
There have even been reports of kids taking matters into their own hands and constructing bike tracks in local parks, only to have them flattened by councils the following day (and subsequently rebuilt by the children the day after).
However, the interest in mountain bike riding may not be matched by the availability of land in the Eastern Suburbs, with most of the area’s highly coveted green spaces protected as National Parks or by conservation trusts.
Centennial Parklands Trust makes no provision for riding bikes off the sealed roads within the park. Clause 21 (2) (b) of the park’s rules and regulations makes it an offence to “drive, ride, stand or park a vehicle other than on a sealed road or on part of the Trust Lands.” The definition of a vehicle includes all types of bicycles.
This restriction extends to the perimeter track of Centennial Park that runs inside the fence line, which is widely believed to be designed specifically for cyclists.
A spokesperson from the Greater Sydney Parklands, of which Centennial Park is a part, told The Beast that the motivation for these restrictions was conservation.
“Protecting the green space and natural bushlands of our Parklands is our top priority,” the spokesperson explained.
Although Centennial Park may not be a haven for mountain bikers, Randwick Council has identified the sport’s popularity in its latest Open Space and Recreation Strategy.
The strategy states that the council will seek to “identify potential temporary and/or permanent sites for active informal sports including BMX track, BMX jumps course and/or mountain bike course.”
A spokesperson from Randwick Council confirmed that these plans are underway albeit in their very early stages.
The strategy was only released in July this year, so BMX riders will have to watch this space to see where any future tracks may be located.
The Greater Sydney Parklands acknowledged the popularity of the sport and does, in fact, operate a mountain bike trail at Cecil Park, part of the Western Sydney Parklands in Eastern Creek. The spokesperson also said that they supported the idea of such a facility in the Eastern Suburbs.
“We appreciate there is a growing interest in the sport, and we have offered our support to both Randwick and Waverley Councils on how they can deliver more BMX facilities in the Eastern Suburbs,” the spokesperson told The Beast.
Randwick Council also identified the Bush Tucker Trail that runs between Yarra Bay and La Perouse as a council-owned track where cyclists could enjoy an off-road cycle.
If you’d like to share your thoughts on mountain bike riding in our local area, please email letters@thebeast.com.au.

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