Introducing Yerrabi advocacy team leader Gregg Berry
By Linda Laker
Gregg’s been a Pedal Power member since the early 1990s, after moving to Canberra in 1989. He deliberately chose a home from where he could ride to work as he was already aware Canberra was a great place for riding bikes. However, like many, he found there were rather more hills than he expected! In the early days, his daily commute from Red Hill to Barton and return – only about 6km each way – left him exhausted by the end of the working week. At that point, Gregg could not imagine how people did such ‘crazy’ distances as 50 or 100 kilometres in a day!
But before long, he joined the many who find through regular riding, strength, skills and aerobic capacity increase. He was doing those crazy distances and even further. Eventually, he even completed (but didn’t win 😊) a Simpson Desert cycle race.
Gregg admits to having a full Trek household – three Trek mountain bikes, a Trek road bike and a Gary Fisher (which is in the Trek stable). This has been partly accidental but also because he’s had good experiences with their bikes. On the day News Wheel caught up with Gregg, he was riding the Trek mountain bike that saw him ride the Simpson Desert and which has reliably carried him over some 30,000km.
These days, he’s doing a lot more mountain bike riding. He rides with Pedal Power’s Dirt Bike Riders on Mondays. He also rides with some of them on ride Wednesdays and Fridays. You’ll see him out on Bruce Ridge, also Majura, Mt Ainslie, sometimes Kowen and Mt Stromlo.
When he’s not on his bike, he spends a lot of his time advocating tirelessly for improvements, big and small, across the Yerrabi electorate as leader of the Yerrabi Advocacy Team. Pedal Power advocacy teams are set up by Canberra electorates.
Within the Yerrabi electorate, Gungahlin is relatively well set up for cycling. By the time it was being developed, it benefited from government’s growing acknowledgement of the importance of bike infrastructure. So generally, there’s good paths around the Gungahlin suburbs and good commuter path links to Civic.
However, getting into the Gungahlin Town Centre is problematic. Those suburban paths tend to petter out and there’s a dog’s breakfast of footpaths and road crossings to get into the centre.
Addressing this is a key priority for Gregg and his team. It’s a credit to their persistent advocacy that funding for consultations on fixing access to the town centre was included in the ACT’s recent budget. Gregg and his team will be making sure to be involved and push it along.
Gregg’s been impressed in recent times by the extent to which planners and engineers really are trying to incorporate bike infrastructure. He finds there is a willingness to listen and greater knowledge about what bike riders need. He feels we are genuinely being consulted.
Into the future, Gregg’s keen to see more mountain biking infrastructure for the Yerrabi electorate and sees some potential in a couple of areas near Amaroo – one promising space is the greenbelt between Amaroo and Moncrieff. There’s also some talk of a Bonner to Centennial Trail path; and also Percival Hill near the round about on the Barton Highway.
So, what got Gregg into advocacy? According to Gregg, he’s got a lot out of Pedal Power over the years. He appreciates what it’s done – not just improving cycling in Canberra – but in delivering events he’s enjoyed such as the Big Canberra Bike Ride and Fitz’s Challenge. He’s valued the work of other volunteers over the years and, in his words, Gregg felt “he has a debt to repay”. Advocacy can be satisfying – especially when there’s been a success – but it’s his way of giving something back.
If you’d like to become involved and see improvements for cycling in Canberra, have a look at suggestions for advocating for your issue here.