THE Blue Lake walking trail will be limited to one-way traffic with signs installed this afternoon urging walkers and joggers to travel in a clockwise direction.
Mount Gambier City Council introduced the measures after a number of social-distancing concerns were raised by members of the public along the narrow path which flanks Bay Road.
It is the council’s latest response to the evolving circumstances and emerging challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council infrastructure general manager Nick Serle said the popular exercise route would be restricted to one-way circulation by pedestrians for the foreseeable future.
“There have been a number of social distancing concerns raised by members of the community with regard to experiences they have had while exercising around the Blue Lake,” Mr Serle said.
“Particular reference has been to the narrow section on Bay Road that is approximately 750m in length where there is little to no room to pass oncoming users due to the physical restrictions caused by the guardrail and fence.
“These physical barriers, while required for safety reasons, mean users are unable to practise social distancing in this section.”
Signage has been installed at various points around the path to remind all users to comply with the new direction.
“Council acknowledge that this measure is not going to be perfect as users may still want to pass one another, however we ask people to be patient as we feel it is a fair and reasonable step that enables the community to continue accessing the Blue Lake for exercise purposes,” Mr Serle said.
“Of course if you are able to use another exercise route that further limits contact with others we encourage you to do so.
“Exercise is important, however we must consider others and practise social distancing at all times.”
Regular Mount Gambier Parkrun participant Harry Thurlings said the council had made a common sense decision.
“With traffic going both ways, no-one can really adhere to social-distancing guidelines on the Bay Road stretch, so this is the right decision,” he said.
“I feel like there are more people out walking and running than ever before because there is not a lot else to do.”
Mr Thurlings said the attitude of people conducting exercise had certainly changed, with most people doing their part to stop the spread of the virus.
“People don’t seem to stop for a chat and groups of people walking you just don’t see anymore,” he said.
“Most people are taking the smart approach and only walking in groups of two even though the state’s guidelines allow 10.”
Citing walking and running as a “social activity”, Mr Thurlings has developed a virtual running group for the people of Mount Gambier.
“I am going to set up a course each week in Mount Gambier that people can run at any time and using the Strava App, I will create a handicap for everyone who wants to be involved,” he said.
“We will then declare a winner using those handicaps at the conclusion of the week.”
Mr Thurlings said the idea was all about maintaining a social element to exercise and ensuring people remain active.
“We are fortunate that we are able to still get out and do exercise, so I am looking forward to people getting involved,” he said.
In addition to the Blue Lake change, council has recently closed all playgrounds, skate parks and the Pump Track to comply with Federal Government guidelines with the key directive to the community being to stay at home.
“While ultimately we want to see the community doing the right thing and predominantly staying at home, fresh air and exercise is recommended and we are fortunate to have many open public spaces where the community can do this while still complying with social distancing guidelines,” Mr Serle said.
Stay up-to-date with City of Mount Gambier’s response to COVID-19 at www.haveyoursaymountgambier.com.au/covid-19.