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