Cyclists on NSW’s Central Coast have made a terrifying discovery over the weekend while riding through a popular national park regularly visited by young families.
Scott Uzelac, who is a keen mountain biker in the area, was cycling with friends near Maitland Bay in the Bouddi National Park – south of Gosford – when one of them suffered a flat tyre.
While his friend worked on his puncture, Mr Uzelac went back to check on the route, only to get a flat tyre himself.
“I thought there must be a sharp root or something there so I started kicking the area and I couldn’t see anything,” he explained to Yahoo News Australia.
Mr Uzelac then saw a leafy area which he also put his foot through, striking something hard.
“I got down on my knees and saw this row of nails sticking out a piece of 30 by 40 with two big anchor bolts... I couldn’t even count how many nails were sticking out.”
In an area the 41-year-old said he frequented with his children, Mr Uzelac said he “freaked out” over the discovery.
“I was shocked and a bit dumbfounded. I just couldn't believe somebody's done that, to be honest,” he said.
“If [my children] trod on it in the right way, the nails are that long it would have gone straight through their feet and through the other side.”
The Kincumber resident said many of the trails in the area, including the one he and his friends were on, have been created by mountain bikers due to a lack of routes, but they weren’t recognised as official tracks.
He said there was an influx of walkers now using the unofficial tracks, who have become infuriated with the presence of cyclists on the routes.
“Some of the older walkers think they have the right [of way over cyclists], I’ve heard of some of the older bushwalkers throwing sticks on the trails so people can’t ride through them,” he said.
Mr Uzelac took the booby trap to Terrigal police station where investigations into its placement on the track were ongoing, a NSW Police spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia on Tuesday morning.
Calls for more designated cycling routes
The father said there was growing pressure from riders to have designated routes identified by the local council, to distinguish separate pathways for cyclists and walkers.
The Central Coast Mountain Bike Trail Alliance took to Facebook in the wake of Mr Uzelac’s discovery, saying it was lucky no one was injured and called for action.
“It is an enormous piece of luck that no one was seriously hurt,” they said.
“We would like to re-iterate that the best way to avoid the type of mindset that drives these types of malicious acts is for Central Coast Council to stand up and support trail users and to provide formalised trails with signage that indicates usage and approval.”
Local MP Adam Crouch called the find “appalling” as he shared the images online calling for action.
Mr Crouch’s followers appeared in disbelief over the trap, describing it as “horrendous” and “plain disturbing”.
A Central Coast Council spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia they were aware of the incident and cyclists’ calls, however disputes over tracks in the Bouddi National Park was a matter for NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
According to the NPWS’s official map of Bouddi National Park, there are currently only two recommended cycling trails – the Strom Trail and the Turkey Trail.
The official walking tracks around Maitland Bay are strictly no cyclists.
An NPWS spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia they condemned the placement of the trap and said it would explore opportunities to expand cycling routes in the national park.
“NPWS supports public access throughout national parks and is disappointed to see this illegal and unsafe activity has occurred,” the spokesperson said.
“Bouddi National Park includes public roads and some management trails where cycling is permitted.
“NPWS is planning to investigate options to provide sustainable mountain biking opportunities in the park in the future. Community consultation and the mitigation of environmental impact will be paramount in this process.”
The spokesperson noted there were several unauthorised tracks used by mountain bikers, which were not endorsed by NPWS as they were “unsafe and have an unacceptable impact on the park’s environment”.
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