Lismore is set to become home for the only legal BMX trail park between Canberra and north of Brisbane, after funding was approved for it last week.
The Lismore City Council funding will also cover design and surveying costs for a world-class mountain bike facility with dirt jumps and walking track close to the CBD.
BMX group Richmond River Riders have welcomed the funding, saying Council had been hugely supportive of the project and had appointed a local steering group to oversee it.
The group made submissions for the bike facilities, supported by John Wade Engineering and Surveying.
Chris Irish, a member of the working committee, will be responsible for the coordination of materials and trades needed to complete the BMX trail project at Nesbitt Park, which already hosts cycling and walking tracks.
Mr Irish told Echonetdaily that the BMX track has been in the pipeline since the original Nesbitt Park planning stage.
He praised AustCycle teacher Rachel Sipple for her leadership and motivation over the project, saying ‘her involvement along with Council’s support has really brought this together’.
LCC have allocated $30,767 of funding which will cover the complete cost of the track.
‘We will also be chasing favours from wherever we can to make this happen,’ Mr Irish said.
He said local BMX, mountain-bike riding and on-road riding groups had ‘all come together for this project’.
Mr Irish said the track is not just designed for the younger bike-riding community, but was also ‘about getting people out and active and enjoying this wonderful place we live in’.
‘This track helps all riders better their skills; if you can handle your bike on the track you can handle it in traffic,’ he said.
Ms Sipple added that improving your bike-riding skills improves your self-esteem.
‘It is proven that cycling betters your physical and mental health,’ she said.
The social side of cycling is enjoyed by all generations of bike riders.
Mr Irish said, ‘more facilities like these will bring people together to enjoy and promote the sport’.
Creating safe places to ride is important for the community as many people are too afraid to get on their bikes on the roads.
‘There are places to avoid on the road; there are better times of the day to ride as well. This facility will give people a riding destination where there is no risk from other road users,’ he said.
Ms Sipple said the legal status of the track was also a huge tourist attraction.
The track was designed by local BMX rider Rick Flanagan, who has ridden BMXs since he was three years old.
Mr Flanagan said that he had designed many tracks before, most of them considered illegal.
‘Once they get popular they get knocked down so it’s good to do something legal,’ he said.
The design has also been approved by one of Australia’s leading BMX riders.
‘There are many styles of BMX riding and one of those is dirt jumping,’ Mr Flanagan said.
‘This one has been designed as a stepping stone for the younger kids. There is a junior section in the middle for riders up to seven and eight years old which they can then step over to the outside ring so they can start jumping. It can also get them ready for racing.’
The design of this track is different from a race track.
‘Race tracks are designed for speed,’ Mr Flanagan said.
‘Where this is more artistic and has more flow and the skills will be more about accuracy. The jumps are tighter together as well.’
Mr Flanagan said there is an old BMX track near the Lismore Lake which hasn’t been used since the mid 1980s.
‘There are still remnants and we are hoping that in the future and with enough interest we may be able to open up that project,’ he said.
Mr Flanagan said that he is confident that the track is designed to be functional.
‘There have been projects built as a token but they are not used because they are not functional,’ he said.
Brandon Vannee is a local BMX rider who is just about to travel to Phillip Island to ride in a BMX exhibition. He is also part of the working group establishing the track.
Mr Vannee said, ‘the go-ahead has only just been announced and I am sure there are some people who don’t know about it’.
‘I reckon this will get a few riders back into it,’ he said.
It is hoped to finish the project by the Christmas holidays.
Ms Sipple told Echonetdaily that the ‘first part of the track will be a shared path where you can ride or walk. Then it will be followed by a one-way singular mountain-bike track.’
The track will go from Amaroo Place to Robinsons Lookout, then a five-kilometre trail will follow that.
Council has allocated $16,870 of funding to design the track, which has been commissioned by World Trail to start in November, taking around six weeks.
World Trail boasts more than 250 projects in 18 countries throughout the world and is one of the most respected authorities in sustainable trail technology.
‘Initially the degree of difficulty will be beginner–intermediate but we are hoping that we could build more later on to cater for everyone,’ Ms Sipple said.
Mountain-bike riding is hugely popular and is not overtly obvious in the community.
Mr Irish said that ‘in my own circle I have been surprised just how many people do it and do it regularly,’ but there were not that many local places to ride.
‘We can go out to Bungabee State Forest, Nightcap National Park and Whian Whian, which are not designated to bike riders,’ said Mr Irish.
‘There can be near misses from vehicles, other riders, walkers and horse riders.’
The group acknowledged that National Parks is trying to do a lot for mountain-bike riding.
‘The golden rule when you go out into the bush is leave only footprints,’ said Mr Irish.
Ms Sipple added, ‘and take only photos’.
The group has recently applied for further project funding.
For a link to Richmond River Riders Inc Facebook page go to https://www.facebook.com/RichmondRiverRiders?fref=ts.
For a link to BMX 2480s Facebook page go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/346384375423849/?fref=ts.