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The prospect of cyclists passing by horse riders on a popular Waikato track has been shut down by cycling operators and Council.
Matamata-Piako District Council recently received a petition proposing that horses be allowed on the Te Aroha to Matamata Cycleway, operated and maintained by the Haruaki Rail Trail Trust.
Its creator, Te Aroha West local Leanne Richardson, who rallied up more than 900 signatures, asked for riders to be able to use certain parts of the trail or to use the trail at certain times of the day.
At a Corporate and Operations Committee meeting councillors weren't for the idea.
Mayor Ash Tanner said he doesn't believe cyclists and horse riders "mix well on the rail trail".
"Some places where it's fenced both sides it's still fairly narrow and I'm not sure passing horses on a push-bike would be an ideal situation," Tanner said.
Hauraki Rail Trail Charitable Trust chief executive officer Diane Drummond said the majority of cycle ways have banned horses due to increased maintenance costs, the risk and the damage that horses can do with their steel hooves.
"Over the last three years I've been in this role we've probably only had about three requests for horses on the trail at different points and our answer has always been steadfastly the same," Drummond said.
Hauraki Rail Trail Charitable Trust chief executive officer Diane Drummond.
"They just don't mix, particularly when you add small children on push-bikes and things like that.
"We don't have the trail width and certainly the expense. When I've done my research behind what other trails are doing the expense of putting horses on the trail far out ways any benefit they might bring should you even decide to charge them a fee to be there."
Deputy mayor Neil Goodger said this could be an opportunity for Council to look elsewhere for a better option for the equestrian community.
"Everyone's going gangbusters at the government for more cycle trails, but maybe we have an opportunity for a horse trail somewhere else within the district," Goodger said.
"Probably the most logical place for it to start is at the Te Aroha race course, somewhere people can then unload their horse floats.
Ash Tanner suggested a track near Killarney Lakes near the Kaimai-Mamaku Ranges, as an "ideal" alternative option also.
This article first appeared on www.stuff.co.nz
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