Cycling policy

We provide an appropriate range of opportunities for recreational cycling in parks.

Family riding bikes at Yanga National ParkCycling, including mountain biking, is a popular and healthy recreational activity that can raise awareness, appreciation and understanding of the natural environment.

Cycling can have impacts on a park’s environment, and must be managed consistent with the relevant legislation and the objectives for which a park is reserved.

Policy

1. A range of cycling experiences, including mountain biking, will be provided in parks. The most appropriate cycling experiences in parks are those that foster public appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of nature and cultural heritage in parks.

2. New cycling experiences may be developed on existing roads or trails, by constructing new tracks or by modifying existing tracks.

3. The appropriateness of cycling experiences will be assessed for a park or for a particular location in a park. Decisions about the planning, development and management of cycling experiences are guided by:

  • ecological sustainability
  • appropriateness of the location (refer to Appendix A in Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Visitor Use and Tourism in New South Wales National Parks; internal document available to staff)
  • the quality of the experience for cyclists
  • the need to balance competing visitor demands
  • consideration of opportunities and demand for cycling across the region, including on other land tenures
  • visitor safety
  • the availability of resources to provide and maintain the experience.

4. The table below sets out where cycling is usually permitted in parks. Despite these general provisions, cycling may still be prohibited in a plan of management (PoM) for a park, or by signage, to achieve local management objectives.

  Roads Management trails Tracks Off a road, trail or track #
National parks Yes Yes
If approved in PoM and signposted as allowed No
Regional parks Yes
yes
If approved in PoM and signposted as allowed
No
State conservation areas Yes
Yes
If approved in PoM and signposted as allowed
No
Karst conservation areas Yes
Yes
If approved in PoM and signposted as allowed
No
Aboriginal areas Yes
Yes
If approved in PoM and signposted as allowed
No
Historic sites Yes
Yes
If approved in PoM and signposted as allowed
No
Nature reserves Yes
If approved in PoM (or by branch director where there is no PoM) and signposted as allowed (see paragraph 20)
No
No
Wilderness areas Cycling is permitted on roads surrounded by wilderness areas

If approved in PoM (or by branch director where there is no PoM) and signposted as allowed (see paragraph 20)
No
No

Yes - cycling is generally permitted unless signs prohibit cycling for safety reasons
No - where cycling is not allowed
# It is not necessary to signpost that cycling is not allowed off a road, trail or track surface to enforce it, because riding in an area not set aside for cycling is expressly prohibited in all parks under clause 7(e) of the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009.


5. Cycling on management trails in nature reserves and wilderness areas will only be considered where it will not degrade natural or cultural heritage values and is consistent with the objects and management principles of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) and the Wilderness Act 1987.

6. Associated facilities, developments or improvements to accommodate bicycle access and use may be provided in parks other than wilderness areas, in accordance with a park’s PoM. Facilities to accommodate bicycle access will not be provided within wilderness areas and will generally not be provided in nature reserves as the management objectives of wilderness areas and nature reserves generally restrict developments in these parks to environmental management purposes.

7. NPWS considers power-assisted pedal cycles – commonly known as e-bikes or pedelecs – up to the output of 250 watts, to be bicycles for the purpose of riding on management trails in parks. All conditions for cycling and bicycles in wilderness areas and nature reserves apply to e-bikes.

Procedures

8. Cycling experiences can be provided by designating new or existing tracks as multi-use, preferred-use or single-use.

Multi-use tracks

Most cycling tracks will be multi-use tracks, which are shared by cyclists and other users, such as walkers. On multi-use tracks, cyclists must yield to other users. Tracks may be designated as multi-use where:

  • the track has suitable visibility, width, surface condition and gradient for multiple users
  • multi-use is not likely to lead to safety issues with other track users.

Preferred-use tracks

A preferred-use track is a type of multi-use track that is designed primarily for cycling, but which other users are not excluded from using.

Single-use tracks

A single-use track is a track designated for use by only one form of activity, such as cycling.

9. Preferred-use and single-use tracks must meet any design, construction and maintenance guidelines that are adopted by NPWS.

10. Cycling experiences may be developed that include a combination of track types, trails and roads. For example, on multi-use tracks, additional side tracks may be created and be designated single-use where it is necessary to separate cyclists and other users for safety or environmental reasons. Tracks may also be designated one-way to ensure user safety or to optimise the experience for users.

11. Cycling experiences may be classified for difficulty. Where this is done, the IMBA Australia Trail Difficulty Rating Scheme will be used.

12. The following cycling experiences must be identified in the park’s plan of management (PoM):

  • cycling on tracks
  • cycling on roads or management trails in nature reserves and wilderness areas.

13. Transitional arrangements can be used to provide consent for cycling paths and activities when these are not identified in a park’s PoM. Under these arrangements the branch director can authorise cycling with appropriate signage until the PoM is amended to consider and specify cycling consent.

14. All cycling consent is:

  • subject to an appropriate level of environmental assessment (see paragraph 15)
  • subject to site-suitability criteria of the Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Visitor Use and Tourism in New South Wales National Parks (internal document available to staff).

15. Proposals for new physical works will be subject to environmental assessment (see the Guidelines for Preparing a Review of Environmental Factors). Environmental assessment may also be required for new cycling experiences that involve a change in use but no new physical works. This will need to be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration:

  • the scale of the change in use
  • volume of the increased use
  • changes in environmental impacts
  • competing visitor demands.

16. Where a need for a new cycling experience is identified and its provision may displace an existing use of the area, the following factors should be considered:

  • the level of participation in the other use
  • the availability of other opportunities for the other use in the park or nearby areas
  • the importance or uniqueness of the location for the other use
  • the opportunities for a cycling experience to be provided elsewhere in the park or nearby area
  • measures available to manage any interactions between park visitors
  • the outcomes of any consultation with user groups, where relevant.

17. Facilities for the short-term storage of bicycles, such as bicycle racks, may be provided at visitor centres or at the entrances to tracks and trails in areas popular with cyclists.

18. The impact of bicycles on the environment, resources and users of areas within parks will be monitored and management prescriptions revised as necessary.

19. Periodic, occasional or permanent closure of park roads and trails may be undertaken in accordance with the vehicle access policy. The process outlined in the vehicle access policy will also apply to the closure of tracks.

20. Closures should be communicated to cyclists on the National Parks and Wildlife website and by signage. Reasons for the closure should be provided, including any relevant risk warnings.

21. Signs may be installed to require cyclists to dismount or take other measures in certain locations for safety reasons or to reduce environmental impacts.

22. Signs informing visitors where cycling is or is not permitted in a particular park must be consistent with the NPWS Signage Manual (internal document available to staff). Where cycling is permitted on management trails in wilderness areas, signs should be located at trail heads outside wilderness areas if possible.

23. To protect the safety of visitors, tracks where cycling is allowed must be signposted:

  • to identify which users are permitted to use the track
  • to communicate the rules for using the track (for example, whether the track is one-way and which user group has right of way).

24. Cycling events can increase visitation to parks and help raise awareness and appreciation of parks and their conservation.

25. The events, functions and venues policy applies to cycling events. Accordingly, cycling events:

  • are not permitted in wilderness areas
  • will only be permitted in nature reserves for the purposes specified in the management principles for nature reserves, which include the promotion of public appreciation of nature reserves and the provision of appropriate research and monitoring.

Event infrastructure and facilities are not suitable in nature reserves unless they are necessary to minimise the environmental impacts of the event.

26. Where a review of environmental factors (REF) is not required, environmental assessment of a cycling event will include the following considerations:

  • plants and animals needing particular protection from disturbance
  • susceptibility of soils to erosion in general and under certain conditions (for instance, after rain or bushfire)
  • the potential impact on an Aboriginal site, Aboriginal place or object of cultural significance to Aboriginal people
  • the presence of natural hazards such as cliffs, unstable slopes and caves
  • interactions with other park visitors
  • planned management activities that may impact upon the event (for instance, hazard-reduction burning, research and baiting)
  • adequacy of available facilities, such as parking
  • availability of alternative areas for the activity.

Note that these considerations can be addressed using Template 1 of the Sustainability Guidelines (PDF 1.1MB).

27. In addition to the conditions that may be required for an event in accordance with the events, functions and venues policy, additional conditions may be imposed, such as limitations on the:

  • course for the event (including the location of marshalling areas, start/finish points and control sites)
  • use of markings and flags
  • maximum number of event participants.

28. Planning, design, construction and maintenance of cycling experiences should be undertaken in partnership or in consultation with cycling groups, other park users, and adjacent land managers, especially where it involves new infrastructure.

29. Partnerships can be formalised by NPWS entering into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with cycling groups.

Policy adopted 24 May 2017

This policy relates to the implementation of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and accompanying regulations, and the Wilderness Act 1987.

It sits within the context of the vehicle-access policy framework and is to be applied consistently with the vehicle-access policies.

Objectives

This policy is intended to promote:

  • sustainable cycling in parks
  • recreational cycling activities that provide a safe, high-quality experience for all park visitors, fostering public appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of nature and cultural heritage in parks
  • proactive and responsive management of cycling in parks (see also the Sustainable Mountain Biking Strategy.
  • effective communication between the park authority, cycling communities and other land managers.

Scope and application

This policy applies to lands acquired or reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act). This policy does not apply to lands reserved under Part 4A of the Act unless the Board of Management for those lands has adopted the policy. However, the policy still provides guidance for staff in their dealings with Boards of Management.

Definitions and abbreviations

Bicycle means any pedal powered vehicle with wheels, including mountain bikes, road bicycles, tricycles and e-bikes (or pedelecs).

Cycling means riding a bicycle or e-bike in any style. Cycling does not include the riding of motorised bicycles (other than e-bikes), which are defined as ‘motor vehicles’ under the NPW Act.

E-bike means bicycle designed to be propelled by human power with auxiliary propulsion motor up to 250 watts output This follows the definition of bicycle in Road Rules 2014.

Power-assisted pedal cycle is defined in the Vehicle Standard (Australian Design Rule – Definitions and Vehicle Categories) 2005 determined under section 7 of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 of the Commonwealth. The definition of power-assisted pedal cycle includes pedelecs within the meaning of that Standard (which may have one or more auxiliary propulsion motors generating a combined power output not exceeding 250 watts).

Ministerial roads are roads vested with the Minister for the Environment under Part 11 of the NPW Act (Note: although Part 11 lands are not reserved as part of the park, they are recognised as part of the park under the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009 and are managed by NPWS).

Multi-use track means a track designated for shared use by multiple forms of activity. In some instances multi-use tracks may be limited to just two uses, such as cycling and walking.

Park means a reserve gazetted under the NPW Act, including a national park, nature reserve, historic site, Aboriginal area, State conservation area, karst conservation reserve, or regional park, or any land acquired by the Minister under Part 11 of the Act. It includes a park managed jointly with the Aboriginal community under Part 4A of the Act.

Park road means a road reserved as part of a park which is open to the public and is managed and maintained by NPWS.

PoM means an adopted plan of management for a park. Where there is no adopted PoM for a park, the managing parks prior to plan of management policy applies.

Preferred use means a track designed primarily for use by cyclists, but which walkers are not prevented from using.

Road means an area that is open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has as one of its main uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles (Road Transport Act 2013. In a park a road includes public roads, park roads and ministerial roads.

Single-use means a track designated for use by only one form of activity. In this policy, the term is used to describe cycling-only tracks.

Sustainability guidelines refers to the document, Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Visitor Use and Tourism in New South Wales National Parks (internal document available to staff).

Track means a walking track or other access way that is not open to motorised vehicles (other than motorised wheelchairs and other mobility devices).

Trail means a management trail, which is a vehicle trail maintained to facilitate management activities and not available for general public vehicular use, except as allowed by a PoM, sign or policy.

Accountabilities

Paragraph Position
4 and 12. Approval of cycling on management trails Director
12. Approval of cycling on tracks Director