Cyclists warn "punitive" ferry fee plan will reduce safety
FEARING their safety, the cycling community of Ballina have appealed to Ballina Shire Council to vote down the introduction of cyclists fees for Burns Point Ferry to South Ballina.
Ballina Masters Cycling Club members believe the $1 ferry fee for cyclists will discourage road riders from the safe and popular cycle route along River Drive in South Ballina. They say it will lead to more perilous cycling across highways.
A letter to the council from club president Jack Ransom stated the fee would prevent people from attending racing events.
"The fee will also add further costs to training and recreational cycling for our members," he said.
"BMCC is also concerned that while they will be charged a fee to use the ferry, facilities on the ferry for cyclists will not be improved, the allocated area will not be increased and we will continue to be squeezed in between cars whenever the ferry driver wants to get additional cars on the ferry."
In June, the council increased the annual vehicle fee to $295, to the chagrin of South Ballina residents who believe the ferry should be free.
Sixth generation South Ballina resident David Felsch suggested a fee for cyclists to help pay for the "black hole" ferry which ran at a $256,000 loss in 2012/13.
"We have been denied free passage of our box trailers because they supposedly take up a paid car space but the bikes are most definitely taking up paid car spaces," he said.
But Mr Ransom said the perception within their club was that the ferry fare for cyclists was "largely punitive, a response to the public backlash for increasing the fare for motor vehicles".
"Cycling is one of the easiest sports for the wider community to become involved in and one of the easiest ways to incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine," he said.
David Cowdery, 72, who cycles the River Drive route four times a week, warned that "someone will shatter a hip".
He said the daily riders, many of them retirees, will risk falling while negotiating stairs and steel deck in rigid cycling shoes to approach the ferry master and pay the $1 ticket.