INSTALL SAFE AND USER-FRIENDLY ACCESS FOR ALL USER TYPES ON THE BRISBANE VALLEY RAIL TRAIL
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Quite some time ago, a proposal was put forth to improve access points along the BVRT for cyclists, by removing step-overs on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail [which were put in place to restrict motorised vehicle access], and for grids to be installed at gate-access locations along the BVRT so that cyclists have better 'flow' along the trail [at a cost of approx $2200 each].
This has already begun and some grids have already been installed at access points on the BVRT. Whilst I appreciate that both step-overs and gates can be a hindrance to cyclists, some of the grid/gate combinations installed (pictured) are not safe for all users on a multi-user trail.
Where the grids are already installed and no step-over exists, horse riders and hikers will be forced to use the gates instead. Examples like the one pictured, which is on the BVRT between Toogoolawah and Harlin, are particularly dangerous for foot traffic.
There should be no argument that unguarded grids are a danger to horses, riders and hikers. Horses are a fight vs flight animal, and when trying to manipulate a horse to open the gate alongside the grid from a mounted position; or dismounting and managing a horse with one hand whilst opening the gate with the other, a frightened or agitated horse could cause a wayward leg [be that of horse or rider] to easily fall into an unguarded grid. A rider or hikers leg falling into a grid is likely to cause serious injury. A horse stepping into a grid is highly likely to lead to a broken leg and ultimately, the horse's death.
As a resolution that enhances ALL users experiences on the BVRT, we propose that the ideal solution is:
- step-overs be installed on the opposite side of the gate [to the grid],
Alternatively, where it is not possible to install step-overs:
- existing and future grid installation have guard-rails extending past the grid so that there is a clear barrier between the gate and grid;
- all gates should be maintained for easy opening/closing and should be hung so that the gate latch is on the FAR side of the gate;
- Adding something as simple as a seat at each access point which doubles as a resting spot and a mounting block would also benefit riders who cannot mount from the ground [for whatever reason].
There is a solution to be found, we just need all user-types to compromise and support the safest option, and urge the council to make necessary changes to the existing and future gate/grid installations.
This is not a competition between horse riders and cyclists - many of us do both. We can all use the trails safely and in harmony. But a safety aspect should never be dependent on who benefits the most.
As a community of horse-riders, hikers and cyclists who enjoy using the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, we implore the Aust Federal Govt and local councils involved, to install safe and user friendly access methods that work for ALL user types.
Note: This photo does not represent all types of grids on the BVRT.
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