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Information and Sources - BMX and Skateparks
How the two can-and should-mix. BMX riders shouldn't be excluded.
BMX Advocate - In General YouTube Videos Found:
Freestyle BMX riding is an exciting and challenging activity that
engages young people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.
BMX parksâ€”and skateparks that permit BMX ridingâ€”provide safe
places for kids to ride and socialize, keeping them off busy streets
and away from trouble. Unfortunately, BMX riders are often excluded
from public skateparks across the country, largely due to unfounded
claims that their presence in parks is destructive and even dangerous.
This document is designed to help riders, parents, and other BMX
advocates approach city council, park planners, and others in the
community who may assert that BMX is not appropriate in skateparks.
Tips are presented to help explain how to reduce conflict between
bikers and skaters, keep BMX legal in existing parks, and build new,
sustainable facilities that are safe and fun for BMX riders.
* User Conflictâ€”Can't We All Just Get Along?
* Wear & Tearâ€”The Myth and the Reality
* Safety Firstâ€”Addressing Collisions and Other Concerns
* Liability, Insurance, and Management
* Keys to Success
"Just because the term 'skatepark' doesn't have the word 'bike'
in it doesn't mean bikes don't belong. 'Skatepark' has become
a generic term for ramp facility, in the same way that Xerox has
become a generic term for photocopies, or Kleenex for facial
tissuesâ€”it's simple and easy to say."â€”AccessBMX.com
Problem 1: Conflicts Between Bikers and Skaters
Bikes are frequently excluded from skateparks because conflicts
arise between BMX riders and skateboardersâ€”whether they are
due to perceived damage and safety concerns, overcrowding, or
other issues. As BMX riders are usually outnumbered by skaters,
municipalities often choose to "solve" conflicts by closing parks to
bikes. However, public parks should serve the public; if BMX riders
are part of that public, provisions should be made to include them
in the recreation plan. Here are some ways to help do that.
Solution 1: Separate Facilities
Some experts claim that building separate parks is the very best
solution to this complex problem. This solution eliminates conflict
from the start, negates concerns about damage caused by specific
users, and (arguably) provides bikers and skaters with the best,
safest park experiences. However, many communities do not have
the funding or the space to create separate parks for bikers and skaters.
Additionally, people often want what they can't have. . .and unless parks
are supervised, skaters might stray into the BMX park, and bikers might
roll into the skatepark in search of different terrain. When advocating for
separate parks, you need to be sure your community's BMX riders and
skaters are prepared to play by the rules.
Access BMX has designed a great online starter kit to help groups get
public BMX parks planned and built. The BMX Riders Association has a
comprehensive list of U.S. skateparks that allow BMX.
Note: www.accessbmx.com is currently offline.
We will report when we learn anything about this.
Solution 2: Separate Schedules
Many successful multi-use parks have established separate schedules
for riders and skaters. Though this approach requires some self-policing
at unsupervised facilities, it is generally successfulâ€”particularly when
separate schedules are established from the beginning. When designing
a schedule, it's important to consider the user numbers for each sport,
and to take prime recreation times into account.
of a schedule that accommodates BMX riders and skaters by giving
each group some prime riding time.
The Flip Side
Although separating bikes and boards seems to be the easiest solution,
some of the most successful parks in the world are completely mixed
use, and skateboarders, inline skaters, and BMX riders coexist in
harmony. In fact, they inspire one another to try new tricks, new
linesâ€”and even new sports. Great parks, designed and built well
with input from all the user groups, can serve multiple disciplines
and build a community of action-sports enthusiasts.
Parentsâ€”chauffeurs to the under-16 setâ€”appreciate the fact that their
BMX-loving and skateboard-crazed children can ride in the same park
at the same time, avoiding multiple laps to and from the park in the
minivan. Parks in the UK, such as
making the full-time, mixed-use approach work since the early 1970s.
"We run bikes, blades, and boards together every session, we've never
had any problems. . . bikes have never affected the maintenance of the
park."â€”Effraim Catlow, Southsea Skatepark, UK
Problem 2: Wear and Tear on Skateparks
One of the primary complaints from skaters is that BMX bikes, by their
design and the way they are ridden, are destroying skateparks. Critics
say that pegs and pedals grind the surface and coping of parks, and that,
over time, the damage can cause potential hazards for skaters. This can
be true of old, poorly built parks that were not designed to current
specifications, particularly in terms of concrete density.
However, new, well-constructed parks should not show abnormal signs
of wear from BMX use. In fact, the Skate Parks Association (SPA/USA)
has been conducting research on parks for several years and has not
found evidence that bikes cause more damage than skateboards or
inline skaters. (See
Solution 1: Park-Friendly Products
"Park-friendly" pegs and pedals, made of or coated with plastic, can
significantly reduce damage to weak surfaces. Some parks allow (or
require) riders to borrow or rent these products, and a few progressive
parks have set up exchange programs with incentives for riders to turn
in their old pegs for a set of park-friendly ones. These products can be
found at www.macneilbmx.com | www.hoffmanbikes.com and
www.terribleone.com among others.
Solution 2: Protection
Protective treatments and retrofits, such as reinforced concrete or
metal sheeting, can be applied to old concrete to strengthen it and
hinder or stop the erosion process at old or poorly built parks. To
learn more about these treatments, visit www.ramparmor.com
Solution 3: Planning
If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. The cost of building a park
that is sturdy enough to support BMX riding is far less than the cost
of rebuilding or retrofitting it. Damage is much more difficult (and
pricey) to repair than it is to prevent.
When building a new park, it is critical to hire a design/build company
with a solid background in bike/skatepark construction, or to hire a
knowledgeable consultant to advise the builder. These professionals
know the best way to design a facility that supports both skaters and
bikers, and they consider everything from lines and flow to concrete
density and coping treatments. It's also important to bring BMX riders
and skateboarders to the table during the planning process, to ensure
that the park will meet users' needs and expectations. See Resources
for a list of top builders.
Solution 4: Patience
Experts note that riding in a park before the concrete cures completely
â€”or on "green" concreteâ€”can cause excessive damage to the facility.
It can take up to six months for concrete to cure, so BMX riders need
to be patient. A great park is well worth the wait.
The Flip Side
Ask your community to weigh the importance of keeping a skatepark
perfect and pristine against the importance of keeping kids happy,
engaged in physical activity, and off busy streets. A little wear and
tearâ€”which can be caused by both BMX bikes and skateboardsâ€”may
be a small price to pay for the numerous benefits these activities
bring to the young people who pursue them.
Problem 3: The Fear of Collisions Between Bikers and Skaters
Some critics of BMX maintain that more accidents occur in parks
where bikers and skaters ride together, and that these accidents
tend to be more severe. However, according to a
by Portland (OR) Parks & Recreation, there's no substantial data to
support this theory. In fact, many parks have seen no increase in
accidents at all since they've opened their gates to BMX riders. The
parks that see the most collisionsâ€”regardless of user groupsâ€”are
the parks that host the biggest crowds.
The argument that a skater's experience in the park is diminished by
the presence of bikesâ€”whether it's because the skater is afraid of
colliding with a bike, feels the skating flow is disturbed by BMX riders'
big lines, or due to other concernsâ€”holds a bit more weight. Skaters
and bikers often agree that the riding experience in their favorite park
is betterâ€”and feels saferâ€”when they can have it all to themselves.
Here are some solutions that can help improve park time for all user
Solution 1: Separate Parks
If a city is able to build and maintain a separate
park for BMX riders, this is a great solution.
Solution 2: Separate Schedules
The cost of two facilities can be prohibitive for many municipalities.
Separate schedules for user groups can alleviate safety concerns and
conflictsâ€”assuming users abide by the rules or sessions are supervised.
Solution 3: Good Designâ€”Bring Bikers and Skaters to the Drawing Board
By seeking input from BMX riders and skaters during the design phases,
planners are able to build parks that mitigate conflict and address safety
issues by their very design. Skaters will congregate in the areas that are
most exciting and appealing to them, while BMX riders play in the spots
where they feel the most challenged. In well-designed parks, collisions
will be few and far between.
Problem 4: Inexperienced Users
When people are new to the sports of BMX and skating, their lines are
sometimes difficult to predict. This can be hazardous to more seasoned
park users. It can also be used as a reason to exclude BMX from a park,
as a wayward bike can be more dangerous than a skateboard.
Solution 1: Beginner Times & Clinics
Some parks help new users get into the groove by designating
"beginners only" times each week, when newbies can test and
refine their skills. Others host clinics for new skaters and riders
to speed them toward success. These measures help keep all
park users safe.
Solution 2: Design for All Abilities
When parks include obstacles and events for all abilities, beginners will
congregate in areas that match their skills, and advanced users will be
drawn to more challenging spots. Good design helps riders and skaters
regulate themselves, eliminating the need for supervision and helping
to keep all users happy and safe.
The Flip Side
Many parks that have opened their gates to BMX riders report that
they have no more crashes now than they did before bikes were
allowed. What they have found is that skaters and bikers learn to
anticipate each other's movementsâ€”and they learn to respect,
appreciate, and even participate in each other's sports!
Problem 5: Overcrowding at Skateparks
When planning a new park, it's important to consider what success will
mean. Good parksâ€”even single-use facilitiesâ€”can get a little crowded,
particularly when they first open. When parks exceed their user capacity,
it can lead to safety concerns, conflicts, and a less appealing experience
for all involved.
Solutions to this problem include:
* Separate Parks
* Separate Schedules
* Good Design
* Beginner Times
* Design for All Abilities
The Flip Side
Overcrowding isn't such a bad problem for a park to have. It means
lots of kids in the community are enthusiastic about skating and biking!
They're engaging in activities that keep them fit, hone their balance and
agility, and build their confidence. And, although it may not always seem
like it when they're flying through the air or speeding down a ramp,
they're in a relatively safe environment.
"The key to keeping these parks successful is making kids feel like they
have ownership. . . getting them involved from the beginning. . . . Let
them establish the rules and be involved in the design process and you
won't have any problems. Youth have a voiceâ€”listen!" â€”Ron Ecksley,
California Police Activities League
Problem 6: Liability Concerns at Public Parks
Cities often balk at the idea of opening an existing park to BMX riders
or building a new park for bikers and skaters because they fear that
accidents could lead to costly litigation. Although codes and statutes
differ from state to state and municipality to municipality, several
general principals apply across the board.
Solution 1: Post the Rules
Many states have laws that classify skating and BMX biking as "hazardous
activities" and declare cities exempt from liability as long as they post
adequate safety requirements. Rules should be clearly displayed at the
entrance to every bike/skatepark.
Solution 2: Investigate Insurance Options
Contrary to popular belief, most companies that insure municipalities
don't consider public skateparks to be a high risk. In fact, slides, swing
sets, and monkey bars in public parks often require higher premiums
than skateparks. Many insurance policies that cover city parks already
include accommodations for skateparks, and there are many companies,
offer additional coverage.
Solution 3: Join Forces
Local police departments can be strong partners in your park project.
Police are often willing to help enforce the rules at your park and to
ensure that the park is a safe environment for youth. The Police Activities
League (PAL) can be particularly helpful; check to see if your town has a
chapter at www.nationalpal.org. Be sure to involve police from the
beginning, by including them in the planning process.
The Flip Side
Skate Parkitecture, a skatepark design and resource company,
conducted a comprehensive study of 60 skateparks on the West
Coast. They reported that only two claims had ever been filed
against these parks, and both claims were lost. Visit the
Problem 7: Management Optionsâ€”What's Best for BMX?
Public bike/skateparksâ€”and particularly skateparks that are considering
whether or not to allow BMXâ€”often find it difficult to choose between
supervised and unsupervised facilities. There are plusses and minuses
to both, and cities should choose the option that best fits their needs
and their budgets.
Solution 1: Unsupervised Facilities
Generally, unsupervised facilities tend to have the best track record
in terms of liability. As a result, more and more parksâ€”particularly
those in urban areas with high useâ€”are choosing this option. By posting
signs at public skateparks, stating that users skate and ride at their own
risk, municipalities are unlikely to be held liable for accidents. Users at
these parks must self-police and play by the rules, but management
costs and liability are significantly reduced.
Solution 2: Supervised Facilities
Supervised parks can serve as recreation centers, benefiting kids
through instruction and mentorship. Staff can also enforce rules such
as skater-only and biker-only sessions, arguably ensuring a safer
environment for users. Staffed facilities tend to incur more liability,
however, so it's important to hire competent individuals who are trained
in bike/skatepark management. Some parks charge admission fees in
order to recoup the cost of staffing, while others are able to utilize park
funding to cover staff costs.
Solution 3: Public/Private Partnerships
Some municipalities have partnered with private organizations in order
to decrease liability and afford supervision at their bike/skateparks. The
of insurance, staff/supervision, maintenance, and programming/events.
Partnerships like this enable parks to serve youth while keeping their
management and insurance costs low.
The following articles from Parks & Recreation magazine provide
more information on the issues of management and liability.
Activate the BMX Riders! One of the primary reasons BMX riders
aren't allowed in skateparks is that they didn't help get them planned
and built. Skaters have a long history and a great track record
advocating for parks and raising money to build themâ€”which is
one of the reasons they feel justified in trying to keep bikers out.
BMX riders should be involved in the planning process, from start
Attend City Council or Parks & Recreation Meetings. Let your voice
be heard! Skaters have been doing this for years, and they have
the parks to prove it.
Put It in Writing. By sending a letter or presenting a petition to your
City Council or Parks & Recreation Department, you show that you're
committed to your cause. Access BMX has sample letters and petitions
in their online starter kit, at accessbmx.com.
Partner with Local Bike Dealers. These business owners can champion
your efforts to get parks built or keep parks open to bikers. Bike shop
owners want to see you succeed as much as you do! In fact, their
business depends on it.
Align with Skaters. When it comes right down to it, we all want the
same thing: great places to skate and ride. If you approach your
city planners as a unified group of bikers and skaters, you increase
your numbersâ€”and your clout.
Involve Your Community. Local governments need to see that
community membersâ€”not just BMX ridersâ€”believe in your cause.
Help educate local businesses and individuals about the benefits
of BMX, so they can be enthusiastic supporters.
Portland (OR) Parks & Recreation commissioned a discussion paper called
It includes useful information on the issues presented here as
well as helpful feedback from professionals, builders, and riders.
There are also a number of resources online that discuss these topics
in more detail. Here are a few links to help you get started:
Advocacy Groups and Other Resources
* Action Park Alliance: www.allianceskateparks.com
* AccessBMX.com: www.accessbmx.com (Note: accessbmx.com is
currently offline. We will report when we learn anything about this.)
* BMX Riders Organization:
* Gene's BMX: www.genesbmx.com/BMXandSkateparks.html
* Skate Park Association of the United States of America: www.spausa.org
* Grindline: www.grindline.com
* Pillar Design Studios: www.pillardesignstudios.com
* Site Design Group:
* Skate Parkitecture: www.skateparkdesign.com
* Spohn Ranch: www.spohnranch.com
* Team Pain Skate Parks: www.teampain.com
* Wally Hollyday: www.skatedesign.com
A big thanks to Bikes Belong www.bikesbelong.org
for resourcing this publication of BMX in Skateparks:
Bikes Belong -