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Petition to change National Park bike prohibition

Dr Nick Smith National Conservation and Environment Spokesperson

17 March 2001

Petition to change National Park prohibition of mountain bikes

"The rule that prohibits mountain bikes anywhere in National Parks is an ass and needs updating," Nelson MP and National Conservation spokesperson Nick Smith today at the launch of the nation-wide petition in partnership with the New Zealand Mountain Bike Association.

"It is ridiculous that landing a helicopter, skiing, shooting and fishing are all discretionary activities in our Parks while mountain biking is totally prohibited. It is a throw-back to the days of 10-speeds when a bike required a sealed pathway and was classified as a vehicle alongside cars, trucks and buses.

The petition was launched at the Rainbow Rage, a 110km mountain bike ride from St Arnaud to Hanmer Springs involving 1600 mountain biking enthusiasts from throughout the country including Nelson MP Nick Smith.

"Mountain bikers don't want carte blanche access to National Parks. On many tracks it would be quite inappropriate, however there are a limited number of tracks on which mountain biking would make sense but cannot even be considered because of the current total prohibition.

The New Zealand Conservation Authority sets the rules for National Parks. As Minister of Conservation Nick Smith unsuccessfully sought a review in 1999. The new Minister of Conservation Sandra Lee has indicated her opposition to any review of the rules regarding mountain bikes.

"There are tens of thousands of New Zealanders who use mountain bikes and object to the outdated discrimination. This petition is a vehicle by which mountain bikers can have their say and put pressure on the New Zealand Conservation Authority to change the total ban.

"If the general rules for National Parks were changed local Conservation Boards, through the public consultation process, would be able to determine where mountain biking would be allowed in each National Park plan. The New Zealand Conservation Authority finally approves National Park plans," Dr Smith said.

Ends

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