A pedal-powered scheme to help stimulate the Orange economy will not solve all of the city’s pecuniary deficiencies, but any idea which promotes mountain-bike tourism deserves serious consideration.
The NSW Government’s Office of Environment and Heritage is seeking community feedback on a proposal to build mountain bike trails in the Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area.
The plans, canvassed in a story published on Monday, have the potential to make Orange something of a Mecca for off-road cycling enthusiasts from across the region, the state and beyond.
Advocates say the trails, done properly and coupled with adequate nearby infrastructure, could be a drawcard for thousands of cyclists looking for competitions and holidays where the emphasis is on a world-class mountain biking experience.
Is there money to be made from developing this type of facility? A host of formerly-struggling towns in Victoria and Tasmania which built extensive trails of their own and have reaped the benefits of swelling tourist numbers suggest the answer is yes.
So what are we waiting for?
Before the idea of a world-class mountain-biking destination in our own backyard can really take flight, some serious environmental concerns need to be addressed.
In previous stories outlining the proposal, environmental stakeholders have been at pains to emphasise that any development must make allowances for the area’s flora and fauna, some of which is unique to the region and fighting for survival.
It’s to be hoped that no one, least of all the State government, would support any project that would jeopardise the trees, birds and other wildlife which call that neck of the woods home.
But if a compromise between all parties can be reached, there’s no questioning the precedent set by triathlons, running festivals and other sporting events held in Orange which demonstrates the potential economic benefits of drawing both serious and casual athletes to our city.
There would be jobs in developing trails and other facilities. There would also be jobs in the hospitality sector and synergies with wine and food tourism.
Cycling tourism is just one good idea to give our economy a kickstart in the wake of the departures of major employers like Electrolux and Myer in recent years.
Done right, it could be a great one.