Australia Tasmanian Premier weighs in on mountain bike death, promising all safety standards will be met

16:01  17 may  2018
16:01  17 may  2018 Source:

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The operators of the state's mountain bike parks are ultimately responsible for safety on their sites, says Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman following the death of a rider after crashing at Maydena.

The athletic and nursing communities have been left reeling in recent days by the death of five-time Cadbury Marathon winner Colin Oliver.

The 49-year-old died in the Royal Hobart Hospital on Tuesday morning, more than two months after crashing at Maydena Bike Park in the Derwent Valley.

Mr Oliver never regained consciousness after suffering catastrophic head injuries in the accident and was treated by his own nursing colleagues in the hospital's neurological ward.

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The fatality is one of a number of crash emergencies and ambulance callouts to Maydena Bike Park since its opening in January, and has led to an outpouring of grief for Mr Oliver.

Mr Hodgman said on Thursday his government would step in to ensure safety standards at the park were met.

"Ultimately, it's for the operators to ensure that proper safety measures are in place," he said.

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"We will be ensuring that occurs and that anything additional that needs to be done will be done."

Mr Hodgman said it was "absolutely critical" that the right safety measures were in place for the "high-risk potential" of mountain biking, which has surged in popularity in Tasmania since the opening of the Derby course in 2015.

It has also proven a lucrative tourism drawcard.

Mr Oliver's death would be the subject of a coronial inquest, Mr Hodgman said.

"We will certainly be endeavouring to understand the circumstances of the incident in question and to respond appropriately," he said.

"I can assure Tasmanians that we will ensure that everything is being done to make our mountain bike trails, and anything else that people want to do in our state by way of recreation, are done so safely."

Tasmania Police is preparing a report for the coroner.

Officers attended the bike park on the day of the accident and assisted paramedics at the site before Mr Oliver was flown to hospital in Hobart.

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Maydena Bike Park operations reviewed

In a statement released on Wednesday, the operators of Maydena Bike Park said they were "deeply saddened to learn that a rider, who was involved in an accident at the park in March, has recently passed away."

The park employs its own medical team and volunteers to assist riders and respond to accidents.

In the statement, the operators said they had "conducted a comprehensive review across all policies, protocols and procedures, including its user induction process and its critical incident response plan".

"Maydena Bike Park continues to follow industry best practice in the development and management of its rider policies and maintains that the safety of its riders is paramount," they said.

The statement added the operators did not believe it was appropriate to provide further comment.

The park was designed by Tasmanian trail design company Dirt Art, which is run by the managing director of Maydena Bike Park.

'Riders know the risks'

Maydena Adventure Pty Ltd's development application was approved by the Derwent Valley Council and the state's Parks and Wildlife Service last year.

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The company's application showed the land was jointly owned by the Derwent Valley Council, the Crown, Forestry Tasmania and Norske Skog Paper Mills (Aus) Ltd.

Maydena Bike Park's website said all users were bound by a "rider responsibility code" and "any park user not complying with the code will have their pass revoked, and may face long term bans from the park".

The code instructed riders to obey the directions of park staff at all times, respect and maintain their equipment, stay in control and avoid objects and people and to ride within their ability.

The park has a series of trails at various elevations and ranked according to a difficulty scale, with a shuttle, or uplift service to the higher, more technical trails for more experienced riders.

Mr Oliver was riding on a "beginner standard descending trail" at the time he crashed, the company said.

Comments left on the Maydena Bike Park Facebook page backed the company's statement, with most posts suggesting riders took the risks on board on using the park.

Derwent Valley Council has been contacted for comment.

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