Getting towards the end of another long hot, dry and dusty Perth summer! Fortunately this year we've had the odd heavy shower on occasions, and opportunistic trail bike riders spring into action for a few dustless hours.
Meanwhile we're ramping up the action in the advocacy role as there are some significant projects on the boil and 2012 will be another big year for your association.
Part Time Position Available
You're probably aware that the RTRA has been run by volunteers since its inception over six years ago. Well we now have some project funding that will enable us to employ a part time Projects / Admin Officer (around 20 hours per week) to help accelerate our work.
The position will ideally suit someone with a keen interest in the activities of the RTRA and who is versatile and tech-savvy, has their own transport and is set up to work from home.
If this sounds like you please see details at rtra.asn.au/projectsofficer.
Liking Laps on Lexia Loop
We've had positive feedback about Lexia Loop - the new 8km trail at Gnangara.
Completed just before Christmas, the new loop was developed with funding from the Department of Sport and Recreation to ensure that Gnangara riders would have somewhere to ride when the pines near Gnangara Road get cut down.
The timing of the clear-felling seems to have been deferred, so Lexia Loop (Lexia is the actual suburb name of the area) adds to the current riding options with a purpose-built trail in the cleared area north of the pine blocks.
Similar to the developed trails of Pinjar, the Lexia Loop is signed as one-way (although there is never a guarantee that no traffic will be coming the wrong way) and has various points where riders have the option of a longer or shorter ride. The trail is natural sand so it is best suited to more experienced riders and quads. If you've ridden the trail please give us some feedback. We hope to be able to develop more trail mileage in the area over the next twelve months. More...
Big Increases in Water Catchment Fines
One of the implications of the Department of Water's newly released Policy 13 on recreational access is the likelihood of steep increases in fines for riding in water catchment areas.
The recommendation accepted by the Government committee is for the maximum fine to be increased to $5,000, with a 'modified penalty' of $500 to be issued via infringement notice. If this legislative change goes through expect to see many more Water Corporation rangers handing out many more $500 tickets.
RTRA Engaged in planning for new Recreation Areas
If more enforcement and bigger fines are the stick, the carrot is an offer from the Department of Water to de-proclaim up to 13 current water catchments south of Perth. The RTRA is engaged in the process of evaluating these 'new' areas for various recreational purposes and we are determined not to simply let the non-motorised trails groups snaffle them all!
It's too early to tell how attractive these areas will be for riders but we will keep members updated on the process.
Last month we mentioned the new clay that had been purchased for 'future' resurfacing work at Pinjar. Well things have moved quicker than expected and the PeeWee trail is going to be re-surfaced over the next few weeks. This will make it perfect for juniors, but we'll have to remain vigilant to ensure it doesn't get abused by non-juniors.
New signage has also been installed this week to give new visitors to the area an understanding of 'how things work around here'. More...
Meeting with BCORMA
RTRA President Steve Pretzel recently met with the Executive Director of the British Columbia Off Road Motorcycle Association (BCORMA) in Canada.
BCORMA lobbies for continuing access to trails and is facing the same pressures from non-motorised trails users that we face in WA. They have a successful 'Trails Pass' program which has provided nearly $3 million in funding for the development of trails and areas -with the projects mainly delivered through recreational riding clubs and groups.
Alliances with groups like BCORMA are important for the RTRA as they enable us to benchmark our progress and tap into new ideas and strategies. We'll be keeping the dialogue going.
'No Fault' Insurance for WA?
The Insurance Commission of WA is likely to come under increasing pressure to introduce 'no fault' third party personal (TPP) insurance following a call by Federal Minister Bill Shorten for WA to fall into line with Victoria and NSW. The RTRA is fully supportive of 'no fault' insurance. Apart from the logic of simplifying the system it could be an important step towards developing a Recreational Registration system in WA by extending TPP cover beyond road registered vehicles.
US Trails Funding Under Threat
Motorised and non-motorised trails groups are joining forces in the US to lobby against legislation that would jeopardise $85 million in trails grant funding. The Recreational Trails Program fund receives about 42% of the fuel taxes paid by users of off-highway motorised vehicles on the basis that the fuel tax is spent on maintaining roads and highway which off-highway vehicles don't use.
The Recreational Trails Program funds projects for both motorised and non-motorised trails. More than 13,000 projects have been funded by the program over the past two decades.
Polaris Announces Smaller RZR
Side-by-Sides are rapidly gaining popularity in the US - and for good reason.
Unlike most ATVs they are designed to carry a passenger and have rollover protection and seat belts. This makes them a safer option for many people and a way of introducing a whole new market segment to off road fun.
Polaris currently leads the high end segment with their RZR XP 900, and have now announced a smaller, lighter, cheaper version. The RZR 570 uses a single cylinder version of the XP 900 engine and is just 127cm wide. With an RRP of under $13 thousand it is about the same price as a high end quad.
Minimal Impact - Always have an Escape Route
Contingency planning - It's about expecting the unexpected. Around every corner could be an oncoming bike, quad or 4WD; a tree across the trail; a large rock or washaway. It's one of the things that makes trail riding so exciting - you never know what challenge you're going to face.
Planning an escape route is an important way of dealing with the unknowns around the next corner. That means constantly being aware of what is either side of the trail and making sure that you have enough control to be able to switch lines quickly if you need to. It also means not doing anything that blocks you in - like riding two or three abreast.
Try this on your next ride; Think consciously at each blind corner or hill crest about where you would head if you suddenly meet someone or something coming the opposite direction.
A little mental practice, a little mental preparation could make a big difference if you ever find yourself in that position.
If you haven't yet checked out the new RTRA blog, head over to www.RTRA.asn.au/blog. Each week we will feature a different perspective on trail bike riding in WA. If you would like to make a contribution please contact secretary@RTRA.asn.au.
Spread the Word
The more members we have, the more we can achieve. If you have riding buddies who are not yet members of the RTRA, forward them this email and give them a prod to join up.