The Dom Post reports:
Wellington could become the urban mountainbiking capital of the world, a group of city bike enthusiasts say.
They have asked Wellington City Council for $60,000 to create a business plan and unlock “a unique global opportunity” which could bring multimillion-dollar benefits.
The attraction lies in the central city’s proximity to world-class tracks which could put it up with Rotorua and Queenstown as a destination for mountainbikers in New Zealand.
The next time I’m in Queenstown, I’m definitely taking a mountain bike up the Gondola. Looks great fun. A visit to Rotorua to mountain bike is also planned.
Wellington Offroad Riding Department instructor Ash Burgess said no other city had such good tracks close to downtown.
“In 10 minutes you can be on beautiful trails, and we want to capitalise on that,” he said.
Businessmen Matt Farrar and Anthony Edmonds told the council economic growth and arts committee yesterday that the city had to take the chance to become a “jewel in the crown” of New Zealand mountainbiking.
They believed a 10-year investment could lead to the capital attracting more tourists, more business and more skilled migrants from overseas.
Tourists would stay longer in the city and it could attract more people looking for adventure tourism opportunities as well as potential new Wellingtonians.
“There are a lot of people like us out there who want to go biking without getting into a car,” Farrar said. “Here you have the opportunity to bike to work, to commute back [home] or go for a ride at lunchtime. [It is] unique by New Zealand and global standards.”
Wellington is great in having trails so close to the CBD. But I agree with Matt Farrar (no relation apart from the fact we have the same parents) that you want to be able to go biking without needing a car. As a new cyclist I’ve learnt that taking your bike into the city is semi-suicidal!
Rotorua’s mountainbike sector was worth an estimated $15 million a year, forecast to grow to $30m.
Mountainbike trails could be an alternative to cycle lanes through some parts of the city, Farrar suggested, and the group would look at funding from the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Edmonds said there was real money in biking and an investment would be good business.
Councillors made some positive comments about the idea, with Nicola Young saying it was “really exciting”.
There’s heaps of people crazy about mountain biking. They’ll travel and spend to be able to cycle. Some people will even decide which city to live in, on the basis of how good they are for cycling.