Members of the Illawarra's cycling community moved to reassure residents they were a responsible bunch as Wollongong City Council this week voted to investigate setting up a regional mountain bike park.
Wollongong Mountain Bike Club representative Scott Carson said the region's cyclists whole-heartedly supported a motion put forward by George Takacs and Michelle Blicavs calling on council staff to canvass suitable sites and operating models for a dedicated mountain bike park.
He said cyclists were acutely aware of the natural environment they rode through and many actively maintained the tracks they rode on.
"Mountain bike riders are not a bunch of ratbags tearing up the bush; rather the opposite," he told councillors at Monday's meeting.
"Trails can be built to a standard set by the International Mountain Bike Association to take into consideration the ecological and environmental impact.
"An unspoilt riding environment enhances the riding experience."
Councillors voted unanimously to advance the investigation, with Cr Blicavs speaking in favour of the economic possibilities for the region and Cr Takacs hailing the health benefits of the outdoor sport.
Meantime, councillors agreed to defer a decision on whether or not to spend thousands of dollars temporarily reopening Mount Keira Road to foot and bike traffic.
The road was closed in December because of safety concerns over rockfalls and landslides.
Staff have estimated it will cost more than $1 million to bring the roadway back up to its required standard.
The work is currently being considered for funding in the next financial budget, meaning major upgrade work would not start until at least July.
Cycling groups had asked for the roadway to be opened to cyclists and pedestrians in the interim, however staff recommended against the move because of the estimated $150,000 to $200,000 cost of installing appropriate safety barriers.
Councillors who spoke on the issue acknowledged the difficult predicament in weighing up the safety risks with people's expectation that the road would be accessible for them.
Labor councillors David Brown and Chris Connor both expressed misgivings about spending up to $200,000 to open the road for "only a few months" until stabilisation works could begin.
Councillors agreed to meet with cycling and walking group representatives and council staff at the site to discuss cheaper safety options before a final decision was made.