Byron puts a spoke in Ballina's bike route

BALLINA Council may be forced to back down from its controversial preferred coastal cycleway route from Lennox Head to Byron due to opposition from Byron Shire.

Byron Council has decided to block the cycleway from entering the shire at the Ballina border at Broken Head, citing environmental impacts, Aboriginal cultural heritage issues, private property and costs.

The stance will almost certainly push Ballina into dropping its preferred route along the track close to Seven Mile Beach and adopting an alternative route in the reserve alongside the Coast Road.

Byron councillor Simon Richardson, who put up the notice of motion against the coastline cycleway, said clarifying Byron Council's position on the preferred route and making this known to Ballina Council would hopefully help create some mutual understanding between councils and save Ballina some time, energy and money.

Ballina councillor Jeff Johnson welcomed the move, saying it sent a clear message to Ballina Council its preferred route was unviable.

“It links nothing, it's a track to nowhere and the Byron resolution has confirmed that fact.,” he said.

“The obvious response is to build it in the reserve beside the roadway.”

Project manager Charlie Hewitt, of GeoLINK, agreed that the Byron resolution would be likely to force Ballina's hand.

“Its a good reason for the council to follow the coast road,” he said.

Bike users have had mixed reactions to Byron Council's decision - Bernard Grinberg from the Byron Bicycle Users Group labelled it 'an appalling stand by the Greens' and an 'anti-tourist initiative'.

“The Byron Greens are particularly good at saying 'no' and causing problems for everyone else. They've got this paranoia about the coast - this is a two metre wide bike path - not the Pacific Highway,” he said.

But Craig Gibson, of the Ballina Bike Users Group, said putting the track close to the coast road would suit most bike users.

“The people who'll be using it are likely to be racking along at 30km/h, not leisurely looking at the scenery,” he said,

The preferred Lennox-Byron coastal cycleway route has been criticised by many since it was released in April for public comment, including environmental groups, who claim it would damage sensitive coastal environment along Seven Mile Beach.

A workshop will be held by Ballina Council this week to come to a final recommendation on the preferred route, which will then go to council's September meeting.

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