Redefining Bike Parks—What Every Town Should Consider
When the term “bike park” is tossed around, one might think of a chairlift to the top of a mountain and a series of massive jumps back down. While in the traditional sense this might be accurate, it’s not always the case. More and more self-shuttle and skills-building bike parks seem to be popping up all over the country. These parks are a beautiful thing, and I deeply believe every town needs one.
A while back I had the opportunity to travel to Utah to experience one of these types of skills parks for myself. Trailside Bike Park is just a half-hour drive from Salt Lake City and roughly 15 minutes from Park City. It hosts a wide variety of rider experiences for beginners through advanced riders. Multiple jump lines vary from small rollers to larger tabletops, and the wood features are designed to give riders the ability to roll the jumps or clear them. It’s the kind of place where three generations of a family can ride together and all have a great time.
I quickly grabbed my bike and began playing around on these trails, working my way up to bigger features. The ability to progress is what makes this place so much fun to ride. You can bring a fairly new rider, and in a matter of a few hours teach him or her how to catch air.
During the hours I spent at the park, I witnessed riders of all ages and abilities not only progressing their skills side by side but having an absolute blast doing it. I began to think about how cool it would be to have skills-building parks in every town. There’s no need for a ski lift, and the overall size of the park doesn’t need to take up all that much land—even a small pump track will do. The best part of it all is that it creates a family-friendly location where everyone can become a better rider.
I know there are many towns already doing their part to make this dream a reality, and to all of those locations, I passionately applaud you. We all need to speak up to community leaders and advocate adding bike parks to our recreational centers. Of course, we can’t expect to take over soccer or baseball fields, nor should we, but more often than not a small bike course can be added without taking away from anyone else. The more locations we have to play in, the happier and healthier our communities will become. Maybe that’s the selling point we should lead with.
I hope to one day live in a world where riding a bike is as popular as tossing around a ball, a world where we can head down the street and find a pump track next to every baseball diamond, a location where families can gather and share a common interest.
For this to happen, it all starts with taking that first important step—we need to change our thinking about what a bike park has to be and learn to work with our cities to develop more bike-friendly recreation areas. Together, we have the power to grow our sport into everything it can and should be.
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