A group of local cyclists is pushing for a quality bike trail between Katoomba and Blackheath to address road safety concerns and provide a tourism drawcard.
Currently bicycle users battle the windy road between the towns with other motorists.
“Going on the highway is like taking your life in your hands – there’s no shoulder,” said Upper Mountains Bicycle Users Group member Suzanne Kowalski-Roth.
She said the trail would be used by commuters, children and would be great for families as well as all manner of cyclists.
In Victoria, 134km of trails by abandoned rail corridors have been successfully converted into bicycle trails for the Great Victorian Rail Trail and the tourism benefits have lifted local economies.
“Rail trails have been converted to bike trails and it’s been an incredibly boom for the economy,” Ms Kowalski-Roth said.
“There’s a whole group of people who want to do active travel.”
The group envisages the Upper Mountains bike trail as being a small slice of a trail running between the Nepean River and Lithgow.
“People could breathe in the fresh air, admire the view, and there would be no safety concerns,” Ms Kowalski-Roth said.
The group has applied for funding for the bike path to Roads and Maritime Services as part of its proposed Katoomba to Lithgow road safety upgrades.
The Blue Mountains City Council obtained $500,000 funding last year to build a 13.2km track between Katoomba and Blackheath.
But the cycling group believes this amount is inadequate for a quality bike trail.
A council spokeswoman said detailed design work was currently being completed with construction to begin in November, and due for completion in March 2015.
She said the NSW government had identified the development of a trail from Nepean and westward across the Blue Mountains, “The Great West Walk”, as a priority project in a 2007 report.
“Council has supported the development of a trail across the Mountains, and has identified the development of the route from Katoomba to Mt York as the top priority for attention,” the spokeswoman said.
This route would link with the national parks trails from Glenbrook to Woodford and on through to Wentworth Falls and would cater for more experienced riders.
“Council has also identified the need for development of trails which would be accessible for people with a much wider range of cycling ability.
“This concept is behind the roll out of the Upper Mountains section of the Great Blue Mountains Trail.”
She said council would continue to make representations to state and federal governments seeking funding for the development of this trail system.
The council also attained $215,000 funding last year for the bike trail around Leura surrounds which it has matched.
“A number of site visits have been undertaken as the route presents a challenging environment to construct a trail,” the spokeswoman said.
Construction on this project is expected to start in August or September, and be complete in December 2015.