Regular cyclists get discount deal on Burns Point Ferry

BURNS Point Ferry cycling fees will remain at $1 with $50 annual passes available for frequent users and the fee waived for all school children.

The issue of cycling fees was brought up at last Thursday's Ballina Council Shire meeting to address concerns of residents and look at the process for implementing the change.

Ahead of the meeting, cyclist David Cowdery, 72, who rides the River Drive route four times a week, warned that "someone will shatter a hip" if cyclists have to unmount to pay the $1 fee.

Mr Cowdery said the daily riders, many of them retirees, would risk falling while negotiating stairs and the steel deck in rigid cycling shoes to approach the ferry master.

However, Ballina Mayor David Wright said the idea of having a season pass that regular riders could wear and the ferry master could see, would help prevent those sort of risks.

Cr Wright said part of the money raised through the cycling fee would go towards improving bicycle access while the majority would go towards helping to pay for the ferry deficit, which runs at a loss of about $230,000 per annum.

In June, Ballina Council voted to introduce a $1 fee for bicycles using the ferry.

The fee was introduced on August 10 and a result, council received a number of written and verbal complaints.

Many of the complaints said the fees would discourage cycling, an activity which promotes health and well-being, and pointed out the need for some form of a season ticket for high frequency ferry users.

For example, one South Ballina resident who uses the ferry to ride their bike to work every day would be paying about $400 per year, which is well above the car season ticket of $295.

As a result, the council voted to introduce a $50 season pass for regular cyclists as well as a $12.50 quarterly ticket plus the $7 administration charge due on purchase.