BMX Skate park Controversy


Mike Vallely, professional skater, once stated, “The skatepark is their common ground and because of that there is a level of respect amongst all the different participants who can make use of the varied terrain of a skatepark. This is always something great to see and to be a part of whether it’s at a skatepark or in some other facet of our society. At the same time and what I’ve found to be much more common, as it also is in our greater society, is division, hatred and violence at skateparks between these young people who do these different sports. Seeing this anywhere in society is sickening but at a skatepark especially amongst young people really turns my stomach. I grew up in a world that didn’t have public skateparks or any kind of publicly designated area for skating and so I guess I’ve always thought of the possibility of a skatepark being a sort of utopian landscape,” (Mike Vallely). He said this after witnessing first hand the reality of how skateparks actually function. The development of skateparks was believed to be an advancement for the freestyle biking community when in reality, it led to BMX Riders encountering troubles with their peers, the law, and members of their local community.


The freestyle biking community is made up of all the BMX Riders throughout the country. BMX Riders are anyone who rides a twenty or twenty-four inch stunt bicycle. This group is stunt bike specific because stunt bicycles are made of stronger, more durable materials in order to withstand the abuse it receives by kids doing tricks on it. Within these standards are over one million BMX Riders throughout the country and over seven million throughout the world (Access BMX). A website about the history of BMX stated, “BMX freestyle is a rapidly growing sport and is clearly more popular than other sports that already have public facilities” (BMX Riders Organization). The rapid growth of BMX occurred primarily through the late 1980’s and into the early 1990’s and is starting to happen again in the year 2003.


BMX started in the early 1970’s, and since then it has developed from doing basic tricks on flat ground to riders doing big, difficult tricks on any terrain (Why Build a Skatepark?). Because of the development of BMX to ride on any terrain it leads to new problems. BMX Riders tend to ride in the street which has allowed them to coin the term “street riding”. The problem with this is that they will use anything they can find such as curbs, stairs, benches, ledges, handrails, loading docks, etc (Benicia Skatepark Resources). This leads to BMX Riders encountering trouble with police in the form of receiving tickets. This also leads to BMX Riders damaging private property and creating turmoil between them and fellow members of the community. In order to provide a solution to this, skateparks should be created to get bikes off the street and into a safer, legal environment.


A skatepark is a collection of ramps, meaning a public or private place with many ramps for kids to use. On average they cost about $100,000 to $200,000 dollars for a small park (Skatepark Essay). They are also a place where it is legal for kids to inline skate, skateboard, and BMX. The first skateparks were opened in both Romford and South Sea, England in the early 1970’s for local skateboarders to use (Access BMX). To this day both skateparks are still in immaculate condition.


One reason that these original skateparks are still in good condition is because they are made of cement. Cement is extremely durable; however, over time the materials that are being used in skateparks have changed. Today they are being made in a variety of materials such as wood, metal, or other special materials like skatelite. Skatelite is a durable mix of abaca fibers and hemplite. Abaca fibers come from the abaca banana plant and hemplite is made from hemp fibers. Together these form a strong material which makes a good ramp surface. Utilizing the new, stronger materials for ramps in turn allows the ramps to last longer (Skatelite).


There are a few advantages to having skateparks, especially if they are going to last for a while. One