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Around a 1200-metre Stromlo track with a perfectly smooth bitumen surface, Canberra cyclists of all ages and abilities hone their skills and improve their speeds. Now fears that part of the criterium track could be ripped up to make way for a playing field to service the growing suburbs on the city’s western edge have been allayed after the government confirmed the track would stay. Cyclists have told the Sunday Canberra Times they got word of a cabinet decision to go ahead with plans for a playing field that would take out a corner of the track, with no timeline or funding for an extension. The playing fields and an extension to the track are both outlined in a 2015 master planning report for Stromlo Forest Park. Sam Cuninghame started a change.org petition to save the criterium circuit. It has since attracted more than 3500 signatures. Mr Cuninghame said there were more than 800 playing fields available in and around Canberra and only one criterium track. “[The] consultation report said the overwhelming majority of people who ride bikes don’t like the idea of ripping up the existing facility, but they were going to do it anyway,” he said. He said the track was used extensively, with racing to be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights through to the end of the daylight saving period in March next year. However, an ACT government spokeswoman said the government had decided after a consultation process the track would remain in its current state. “User groups were consulted on changes to infrastructure at Stromlo Forest Park and as a result of this careful consultation and other considerations, the government can confirm that the district playing fields will no longer affect the criterium track,” she said. The spokeswoman said the playing fields were in a design phase. Vikings Cycling Club president Rob Fisher said the ACT cycling community welcomed the news the “unique” track would remain. “It’s great news, it’s fantastic to hear that and I think the government is finally understanding how much of the community is using this place and how much it’s loved by a whole cross section of people. It’s not just middle aged guys in Lycra; it’s kids, it’s guys on scooters,” he said on Friday. The master planning report said a process of community consultation would be undertaken before any modifications were made to the track. “The ACT government recognises the importance in both the length and design of the criterium cycling circuit. Any modifications that may be required as new infrastructure is developed at the Park will be made in consultation with stakeholders to ensure the circuit meets the needs of the community,” the document said. Mr Fisher said the consultation process “seems to have sped up very rapidly after a petition this week”. The criterium circuit was opened in December 2006.

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