Tuesday, 27 January 2009 05:38
By Mark Hinchliffe couriermail.com
DIRTBIKE riding facilities should be a "significant" factor in the state election this year, according to the chairman of a task force looking into the issue.
Council of Mayors' Trail Bike Task Force chairman Steve Jones said the closure of dirtbike parks around the state had left many thousands of adults and children with nowhere to ride legally.
"Our research shows that 11 per cent of all southeast Queenslanders aged over 18 have expressed an interest in dirtbikes," he said.
"Even if it was just 5 per cent of the population, it would be a significant political issue in this year of a state election."
The LNP recently announced a $3 million trail bike riding plan to find places for riders, while Jones said he would discuss the issue with Police, Corrective Services and Sport Minister Judy Spence this week.
"I'd like to see one major motorcycle precinct catering for all bike disciplines with a lot of smaller satellite facilities around southeast Queensland," he said.
"It would be expensive and it would have to be designed right to satisfy environmental, safety and lifestyle concerns.
"It would also need to be about 400 hectares and provide all the infrastructure, and be only 10km from a highway.
"You would then have a facility that could cater for big crowds, bike rallies like the Ulysses (mature-age bike club) and even provide coaching for the Chad Reeds of the future."
Reed is the Australian, American and world supercross champion, the third highest earning sportsman in the country.
Jones said the closure last year of Black Duck Valley off-road park in his Lockyer Valley Shire had left hundreds of riders with nowhere to go.
"They used to have up to 900 riders each weekend," he said. "Now they've gone into the state forests where there are no emergency facilities, little safety and you can't police it.
"Where I live I would have taken a dozen police to hospital after they fell off their bikes trying to catch kids illegally riding in the forests; and they haven't caught one yet."
He yesterday welcomed the "professional" expression of interest by former Australian freestyle stunt bike riding champion Matt Schubring of Boonah and business partner Steve Sommerfeld in establishing a major bike park.
Sommerfeld said they had secured about $2 million of the $3 million needed to create a facility that would include all forms of dirt bike riding, plus camping facilities, water, sewerage, power and emergency services.
"The task force has identified a few areas that could work well for us," he said.
Schubring, who heads to New Zealand next week for a tour with the Crusty Demons stunt show, said that with his career nearing its end after many injuries, he would like to turn his talents to coaching young freestyle riders at his bike park.
"You'll never have another Chad Reed until you train people properly," he said.