Letter to the editor: Trailing in argument

I am writing in response to a letter penned by Maurice Newman in relation to the proposed Goulburn to Crookwell rail trail (July 13).

He offers no suggestions as to what other recreational facility would provide a better benefit to the community nor does he offer a valid argument to support his statement. Many cyclists wishing to utilise this trail would come from the region, particularly Canberra, where cycling is a popular activity despite its perceived adverse conditions.

Mr Newman continues with statements regarding economic harm and bio security risks by having a recreational path running through a property. From my experience, roads already provide this type of risk to farming by allowing motorised transport to regularly pass through or past their properties. Many of these vehicles have travelled from neighbouring properties and could also be carrying livestock or plant material that could cause similar bio security risks, yet there is no call to close roads in rural areas to prevent these issues from occurring.

Mr Newman uses an emotive argument citing foot and mouth disease, a disease that does not occur in Australia; and most infectious diseases such as Johne's Disease are spread by grazing diseased and healthy animals together on a property.

As cyclists have little interest in cavorting with sheep and cattle, it is unlikely they would spread. As the rail corridor is already fenced, then there should be no changes to farming practices as the land was already divided by a fenced corridor.

Studies and surveys in other states and countries show these trails are used by many different types of people. Pedestrians are predominant in areas close to towns, horses are not a popular method of transport on these trails, and motorcyclists are discouraged by the use of bollards and chicanes that are not easily navigated by motor cycle. Campers are unlikely to carry their tents too far from their vehicles.

The new bio security laws will require visitors to farms to be logged, but as the rail trail would be fenced, their movement would be the same as motor vehicles along roads.

Mr Newman also raises issues with the spread of noxious weeds, security, personal safety and fire risks., but once again provides no evidence to explain how these risks would be enhanced by the presence of cyclists or hikers on an enclosed corridor.

Given the proven benefits to communities from the presence of a linear recreation facility that promotes physical activity while providing an income from tourism, I believe it would be morally unthinkable to deny the communities the opportunity to benefit from this proposal.

John Holstein, Yerong Creek