Warning: The contents of this may offend some people. All views are my own and I make no apologies.
I have always been a bike rider. One of the best memories from my childhood involved us getting new bikes one year for Christmas. We have a family photo somewhere of the three of us kids standing proudly displaying our new bikes and smiling so broadly – we realised how lucky we were. We were always out riding after that and had some great adventures. When I left school and started working at the bank in Nowra, I rode a bike to work everyday and the down hill was fun on the way into work in the morning but never-endingly long on a hot summer’s afternoon ride home. When Grant & I moved to Newcastle, one of the first things he bought me was a new bike so that I could ride across the city from Merewether to Waratah to work each day. I remember being pregnant with Melanie and riding my bike to work for as long as I could manage it. When she was old enough we bought a baby seat so that we could continue to ride around. I often tell the story that before I was game enough to put her in the seat I would strap a bag of potatoes in and go riding to get my confidence and balance right. When we had Sarah we bought a new seat and were able to continue riding as a family. When Melanie was old enough she got a bike of her own and Eliza took her baby seat. All of the girls were brought up riding bikes for fun, health, exercise and as a family activity.
I have also always been a community minded person – involved in various groups such as Brownies, Guides, Venturers, Nursing Mothers, playgroup, school associations, Brownie & Guide leader, sporting teams & Rotary to name just a few. As a teacher I aim to help people and to teach them to help themselves – this is particularly true in my current setting of a correctional centre. I like to think that I am a positive person and relatively inoffensive. I know I can be blunt, ditzy and excitable but rarely do I set out to offend anyone.
We have lived in this lovely town for over 22 years and this is one of the few times I have felt like this. I am disappointed and offended about the current discord from a minority of people in the area, while trying to get something so positive off the ground. I am, of course, talking about the Rail Trail proposal from Tumbarumba to Rosewood. I remain confident that it will eventually get State Government approval, having the backing of the local council and the majority of the community.
Let me explain – I am disappointed because I love riding, walking & running and have used such paths all over the world without incident and have seen the benefits they bring to individuals, towns and regions; I have noted the general decline in people’s fitness levels, the increase in obesity levels and the number of kids who no longer play outside and I genuinely think the rail trail proposal is a great initiative for everyone. The Rail Trail concept can (& has in other areas) help address all these issues with its easy gradients, beautiful countryside, exceptional engineering feats and accessibility. It can (& has) revived small dying towns by bringing a new type of tourist into them. I would love to be able to ride around the area safely and see other families do the same. I want everyone to be happy about this proposal and to see the many benefits – health, safety & economic benefits to name just a few. We are a progressive community in many ways and this is another example of how we can lead the way in NSW.
I am offended because a minority of people who oppose this proposal think that me, my husband and my bike riding friends are the types of people who will perve on them, look at what is on their washing line, take & deliberately drop our garbage along the track, start fires, leave gates open, scare cattle, case their houses for what we can come back & steal later on and the list goes on. I can assure you that as I am pedalling by any houses, as I was today, my mind is on what I am doing, taking in the views, clearing my mind of all the day to day stuff, relaxing, swatting at the flies, thinking of what to write in my blog – I am not taking in the details of what is in your yard, what’s on your washing line and how I can be a terrorist by stealing your superphosphate.
I know that if the Rail Trail was to be positioned in the stock route next to my place I would welcome it because of the many, many benefits. I would welcome it as a great place to ride, walk & run in safety away from the huge timber trucks on our narrow roads. The disused rail corridors are still owned by the State Government and despite being on people’s property are not their property. I can understand that in some cases the rail trail may go near to houses or property but these are things that can be addressed by talking to those involved and coming up with mutually acceptable solutions. Anyone who has ridden on the Wangaratta, Myrtleford or Bright rail trails (in Victoria) can see just how close some people’s property is, but apparently this hasn’t presented any major problems, despite initial concerns. It’s all about communication and finding a viable solution that suits everyone.
I am a proud bike rider and a proud local community minded resident of this amazing town. I would like to think that I am part of a pro-active community and I will be ever so proud when the Rail Trail gets up & running. I commend all those who are working hard to see this happen.
Sing along….Riding along on my push bike honey when I noticed you…