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Plea to park users about makeshift bike tracks

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Mountain bike and BMX enthusiasts have been creating makeshift tracks in Moonee Valley parks and reserves, causing significant damage.

With COVID-19 Stage 4 restrictions limiting sporting opportunities, it is understandable that people are seeking new recreational outlets.

However, carving mountain bike tracks into public land is illegal and damages the environment. This has occurred at more than twelve sites across Moonee Valley in recent months.

One of the hardest hit areas has been Napier Park in Strathmore, which since March has had about 200 plants destroyed, dangerous holes, mounds and tracks created, and damage to many years of investment in weed control and vegetation.

Works to remediate this site have already cost ratepayers more than $10,000.

The improvised bike tracks also pose a public safety risk including slips, trips or falls, as many tracks are being built in open space and on existing paths.

Moonee Valley Mayor Cr Samantha Byrne said that she sympathises with people who do not have normal access to recreational activities due to the pandemic lockdown.

“We understand why this group of mountain bikers and BMX riders may have wanted to create these tracks,” Cr Byrne said. “We have received a petition from one particular group, and we’re aware of their request for a more permanent track.

“However, public safety is paramount. There are also legal risks associated with damaging the landscape in many of these locations as they are within Aboriginal Cultural Heritage areas, feature registered significant trees, and are sites of geological significance.”

During the lockdown phase of this pandemic, residents can still access many remote programs and services that continue to support our community.

If you live within five kilometres of Fanny Reserve in Moonee Ponds, we encourage riders to use the BMX dirt track located there.

Moonee Valley Council’s Youth team has a range of activities and support services for young people during this time.

Council is working to remove the tracks, and our Local Laws team has increased patrols in the affected areas. Anyone who has been making bike tracks in parks and reserves is asked to stop immediately.

To report illegal bike tracks, contact Council on 9234 8888.