Cy­cling plan on the way

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Scott Tibballs

THE Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil has been push­ing for­ward with in­vest­ment in cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture, while plenty of other cy­cle-friendly projects are in the works. Some op­er­a­tors have big ideas for tur­bocharg­ing the pedal-power tourism in­dus­try, and say the shire is per­fectly placed for more.

AN even brighter fu­ture in tourism could await the Dou­glas Shire with a multi-mil­lion dol­lar in­dus­try in cy­cle tourism not fully tapped.

Over the past two years the Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil has been push­ing for­ward with more than $600,000 in projects im­prov­ing and up­grad­ing ex­ist­ing cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to owner of Bike Shop & Hire Rod John­son, more in­vest­ment in cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture could do won­ders for the shire with plenty of ben­e­fits al­ready be­ing felt.

“I think there’s a huge op­por­tu­nity in Port Dou­glas around cy­cle tourism, par­tic­u­larly when you have a look at coun­cils and com­mu­ni­ties around Bright in Vic­to­ria,” Mr John­son said.

The Alpine Shire in Vic­to­ria tra­di­tion­ally re­lies on win­ter tourism, but has be­come a well-known des­ti­na­tion for cy­clists through­out the year.

The Alpine Shire was just one of many lo­cal gov­ern­ments “that have turned cy­cle tourism into multi-mil­lion dol­lar an­nual in­come for the com­mu­nity,” Mr John­son said.

“What we need is a (moun­tain bik­ing) track of 20-25km in the foothills of the range.

“If we have a track like that where peo­ple from Port Dou­glas can ride to-from their ac­com­mo­da­tion out into the range, do 20-30km in a cir­cuit and come back into Port, that would be some­thing that would be a huge plus for cy­cle tourism.”

A cur­rent bar­rier stop­ping cy­clists from es­cap­ing Port Dou­glas to Moss­man or be­yond was the Cap­tain Cook High­way be­tween the two towns.

“The cy­clists that come into our busi­ness to rent bikes love the idea of rid­ing out to the Rex Range and get into the Table­lands, but what turns them off ter­ri­bly is the road be­tween here and Moss­man. No­body likes to cy­cle that way.”

Mayor Ju­lia Leu said there was good news for cy­clists with plans afoot.

“Coun­cil met with the Depart­ment of Trans­port and Main Roads this month to de­velop a con­cept plan for improvements to the Cap­tain Cook Hwy be­tween Port Dou­glas and Moss­man to make it more user-friendly for cy­clists,” Cr Leu said.

The cy­cling plan, which forms the ba­sis of coun­cil in­vest­ment, also iden­ti­fies a num­ber of projects that cy­clists thought needed at­ten­tion, like the Mowbray Loop and the Shan­non­vale Rd Loop. Projects around the shire are also ear­marked for fu­ture works of $1.6 mil­lion in the 2020/21 fi­nan­cial year.

Cr Leu said the coun­cil was cur­rently de­vel­op­ing a mas­ter­plan for hik­ing and moun­tain bik­ing in the shire and said co­op­er­a­tion with neigh­bour­ing coun­cils was key to wider-rang­ing po­ten­tial. As it stands lo­cally Mr John­son said his busi­ness, which sup­plies 400 bi­cy­cles to ea­ger vis­i­tors, could barely keep up dur­ing the busy sea­son.

Pic­ture: SCOTT TIBBALLS

Angie John­son, Steve Rank­ine and Rod John­son own cy­cling busi­nesses in the shire and say that there’s plenty of po­ten­tial for cy­cling tourism.

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