No bikes allowed at new Steamboat skatepark
Use limited to skateboarders, inline skaters because of wear issues
May 11, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Now that the new concrete skatepark in Steamboat Springs finally is open, City Parks Supervisor Ernie Jenkins hopes users will bring a renewed sense of enthusiasm, their best tricks and their skateboards.
But the city requests that cyclists leave their bikes at home. It's a new rule that caught a few local cyclists off guard, but one that Jenkins thinks will extend the life of the park.
"It wasn't our intention to exclude anyone," Jenkins said. "But we felt like this was something we had to do to protect the surface."
Jenkins said the steel components on a bike scrape, gouge and otherwise damage the concrete surface. The "no bike" rule was a disappointment to several cyclists in the community who hope the new park would give them a new place to play.
Jenkins pointed out that the city offers other options for bikes, including a BMX track at Howelsen Hill, and the Howelsen Skate Park, which will continue to be a venue for skateboards and bikes. He also is optimistic about a new pump track planned for Ski Time Square. That is a private venture.
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Freestyle riders like Dacques McCann say none of the current options truly address freestyle biking.
"I'm bummed that's not going to be open to bikes," McCann said about the new skatepark.
He thinks the city doesn't understand the sport of freestyle BMX biking and that other measures could have been taken to protect the concrete surface. Those options would include not allowing the steel pegs found on many freestyle bikes, or requiring plastic pedals or plastic handlebar extensions. Jenkins said the city looked into options that would allow bikes in the park and said that as the technology of that sport continues to evolve the issue could be readdressed.
McCann hopes for more.
"Maybe the city could designate other areas or look into upgrading existing areas for different styles of riding," McCann said.
Steamboat is not alone when it comes to grappling with this issue.
Like Steamboat, Aspen and Silverthorne don't allow bikes in their concrete parks. Breckenridge and Winter Park do allow bikes in theirs. And many parks in Colorado Springs and Denver allow bikes with restrictions, such as no steel pegs.
"Our primary mission was to provide an ideal surface to skate on and then to protect that surface," said Scott Chism, parks planner and landscape architect for Aspen's Parks and Recreation Department.
Aspen has had concrete for more than 10 years, and he said the town hasn't had a lot of issues with its "no bikes" rule. He said it's important to remember that the temperature changes in the high country is a huge factor when it came to making the choice on bikes.
"Our cold climate is tough on concrete," Chism said. "If you get a small crack or chip it can fester and become a much bigger problem in no time."
Team Pain's Tito Porrata, who works for the company that built the concrete park in Steamboat, said there are a number of issues that his clients must consider when building a park and then deciding how it will be used.
He said every park is subject to wear and tear, whether it allows bikes or restricts them. He said bikes tend to be heavier and use harder materials than skateboards. Those factors can accelerate the wear on a park.
"Skateparks normally wear out skateboards," Porrata said. "But bikes tend to wear out skateparks."
In Winter Park, Russ Chameroy, the public works director, said bikes are welcome at the Hideaway skatepark and that there haven't been a lot of issues with maintenance or user conflicts.
"We don't have enough BMX users here to make it an issue," Chameroy said.
Bikes and skateboards are welcome at the 40,000-square-foot Memorial Skate Park in Colorado Springs. Tim Pluemer, skilled maintenance supervisor for the park, said he does see more damage at the park from bikes than skateboards. But the city thought it was more important to open the facility to every group that wanted to use it. He said the park suggests that bikers use plastic pegs but admits that it's hard to enforce.
Pluemer said that while he sees more wear from bikes, it isn't significantly more than is expected at the park. His biggest challenge has been trying to keep the park clear of graffiti.
"Concrete is hard to replace. It's nothing against bikers," said Jon Casson, director of the Steamboat Skatepark Alliance. "If a biker fell and damages the concrete surface, it's going to be hard to fix."
The Skatepark Alliance initiated the effort to build the park and raised $60,000 for it, including a $10,000 grant from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. The Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs contributed $2,000, the city contributed $50,000, and the project received a $200,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado.
Construction was completed on the park in the fall, and the park opened last weekend after the city organized a volunteer workday to complete several landscaping projects.