From preparing for dark tunnels to how to identify your location, a raft of safety tips and handy hints on how to use the new Northern Rivers Rail Trail are published to help users make the most of their experience.
The 24 km Tweed section of the Rail Trail is a new shared recreation and nature trail where users can walk, ride and explore the region between Murwillumbah and Crabbes Creek at their own pace.
Council’s Manager Destination, Communication and Customer Experience Tiffany Stodart said the new attraction had been enthusiastically embraced by everyone from walkers to runners, cyclists, and people of all abilities since its official opening on 1 March.
“It’s been incredible to see the abundance of people enjoying the Rail Trail in its first week,” Ms Stodart said.
“With many people flocking to be among the first to experience this new shared space, it has also been an important reminder about the importance of safety and individual responsibility on the Rail Trail.
“Users need to follow the safety tips and rules – clearly identified in signage on the Rail Trail and through the official website and social media channels – so everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.”
The Northern Rivers Rail Trail website highlights the shared nature of the trail, which adjoins local farmland, and encourages visitors to be aware and plan for potential risks.
Rail Trail safety tips explain how to:
“While there has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the Rail Trail, the main areas of concern reported to us in the opening week are road safety, cyclist speeds and user behaviour.
- Share the trail
- Be safe
- Be alert
- Be visible
- Be prepared.
"While this is entirely expected in the first few months as trail etiquette and user behaviours are established, it is important all users take responsibility for their own actions and understand it is a road-related area and rules do apply,” Ms Stodart said.
“Cyclists should adhere to general road rules including keeping left, adhering to speed limits and always ride at safe speeds. And at all times all wear a helmet. We’ve had reports of some close calls so please always pass with a gap – a metre matters – and alert pedestrians as you pass – use your bell or a polite ‘on your right’.
"We’re also encouraging people to use common sense when crossing any roads and intersections accessing the Rail Trail. Slow down, and take note of all signage and safety measures for road or trail crossings, they are there for a reason."
There is a 2.2 km section near Burringbar to Upper Burringbar where horses and their riders are allowed with a permit. Pedestrians and cyclists need to pass with a gap, slow down and take caution around all animals.
To support the community and users to adopt the safety tips and rules, Council Rangers in conjunction with Tweed Byron Police are actively on the rail trail to monitor trail safety and behaviours to ensure everyone is using the recreation space in a safe manner.
Caution signs have also been placed at the entry to the Burringbar Range Tunnel, which at 524 m in length is home to populations of glow worms and microbats who enjoy its darkness.
“Users need to be mindful of each other as well as the wildlife that lives inside the tunnel,” Ms Stodart said.
“Preservation of the ecology inside the tunnel is an important part of maintaining the Rail Trail corridor. It relies on people taking notice of the warning signs and using common sense. We want to make sure our glow worms and microbats are protected for years to come.”
When Rail Trail users approach the tunnel, they are reminded to keep noise to a minimum and to not shine lights on the glow worms or microbats. It is recommended riders dismount to travel through the tunnel which is quite dark.
Other tips include:
- Bring a torch and/or cycle lights to be pointed to the ground to help with direction
- Remove sunglasses and let eyes adjust to the darkness
- Move slowly in single file
- Be respectful and stay to the left.
On the Rail Trail itself, location markers with unique codes are placed every 1 km along the track to help emergency services and others locate users. These markers also help users report any issues to Rail Trail operators.
Users can Report a Problem for maintenance related issues such as surface damage or debris or Report an Incident (preferably within 12 hours) for any safety, conduct or person related issues.
For those planning a visit, the official website has handy information available and everything you need to know to plan a safe and enjoyable experience.
Visit www.northernriversrailtrail.com.au/plan/safety-rules and access Rail Trail Rules, safety tips, and a helpful ‘plan, pack and prepare’ checklist before you visit. You can also watch the safety videos online, download your copy of the safety tips and rules and read the frequently asked questions.
A community celebration to mark the opening of the Rail Trail is planned for the weekend of Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 March, with a host of fun, family-friendly activities on offer. Stay tuned to The Northern Rivers Rail Trail on Facebook and Instagram for further details.
Nikki Todd – 02 6670 2136 | 0429 267 735 or email firstname.lastname@example.org