AusCycling have just unveiled their statewide strategy for Victoria, to tie together government, community and businesses to help deliver the trail resources the state needs. This sort of unification was one of the big promises of bringing national cycling bodies under one umbrella, so it's exciting to see how this will develop.

The Victorian Mountain Bike Strategy is a 123-page document (download it here for bedtime reading), prepared by Common Ground Trails for AusCycling. The document offers an overview of what mountain biking is, who mountain bikers are and what the requirements are. And of course, what the benefits of mountain biking are. This includes the economic benefit, based on what a mountain biker will spend on travel and equipment per year (on average). It's all part of the evidence that shows developing more mountain biking (and cycling) infrastructure has wide reaching benefits beyond just stoke creation.

'The economic contribution of mountain biking to Australia’s economy outlined in the above mentioned AusCycling study, is based on AusPlay participation data and annual expenditure estimates. Directly, people who mountain bike at their local trails spend $630.8 million within Australia annually and directly and indirectly support 6,095 full time equivalent employees.'

Victorian Mountain Bike Strategy

There's more reporting on the social benefits, environmental benefits and much more. It creates a very strong tool to guide and push for ongoing mountain bike development, potentially leapfrogging initial barriers.

In a nutshell, the strategy puts forward many recommendations, including to:
• build and upgrade trails and infrastructure in high-priority areas through
regional master plans;
• cater for all users by improving the diversity of trail types and bike parks;
• create a central portal of trail networks and tourism information;
• record and use participation data and trail information in a coordinated way;
• support Ride Nation Schools in efforts to introduce young people and people
from diverse backgrounds to mountain biking.

“Until now, mountain biking in Victoria has been managed in different ways across the
state. There hasn’t been one unified, strategic approach that would unlock its full
potential,” said Nick Hannan, AusCycling’s Executive General Manager of Government
Strategy. “On a day-to-day level, for example, if you want to build a trail or run an event, you
might need to obtain approvals from multiple levels of government and multiple
departments, each with their own procedures and standards. It can be a frustrating

“This strategy provides a way for us to start addressing these problems, so it’s a big step towards making Victoria an envied destination for MTB, meeting local demand for places to ride, and getting a bigger slice of tourism for Victoria’s regions. It’s not a silver bullet, but the strategy shows the Victoria Government’s commitment to delivering a high-quality and sustainable mountain biking experience for all Victorians. AusCycling looks forward to jointly taking the next steps with government towards making it a reality.”

This is exactly the unified approach we were told to expect from AusCycling. And we sure hope to see more across events, junior development, external sponsorship and advocacy.

Photos: Tim Bardsley-Smith