In Austin, TX there are several great pump track and mountain bike trails throughout the city. We were lucky enough to live close to the Walnut Creek Park. Walnut Creek is a city park. Though, the trails are built and maintained by local riders.
There were regular, organized days where average everyday people who wanted to have a cool new trail to ride on would help make it happen. What started out as hiking trails, were built in to mountain bike trails by the people who wanted to have mountain bike trails. When there was a desire for more jumps, a pump track was built. There was no fundraising effort, no large piles of bureaucratic paper work to be filed. There was a bit of coordinating to be done to ensure that everything was on the up and up, but no pleading or finagling of any sort.
I think it’s amazing when a community can come together like this. I spent many many hours out at Walnut Creek while living in Austin. We rode the trails and helped to maintain them.
It’s this type of experience that makes me leery of stories like that of the Marin County Bike Park. First off let me say that I believe that everyone involved believes that they are doing the right thing. It’s wonderful that the parks department and government are even considering allowing a bike park to be built. On that note, lets look at the situation.
According to a story in the Marin Independent Journal, a grand sum of $850,000 is needed to build this park. A park design and planning company, Hilride, has been hired to design the park. Also, a fundraising consultant by the name of Tjiska Van Wykt is on board. The MIJ article implies that the $850,000 is needed on top of the already funded $142,000 for design development and construction drawing work by Hilride.
While having a professionally built and groomed bike park is something worthwhile, I seriously questions wether a government organization should be placing their money in the coffers of the “park designers” and “fundraising consultants”. If a community can’t come together to build their own trails with their own hands on their own time, the need isn’t strong enough.
If the county wants to do the right thing, and encourage the building of a bike park, they should save the professional trail designers for the private parks, and lower the bar of red tape that must be crossed before a group of riders can dig their own trails. Without a sense of ownership from a community, a county bike park’s future is just a budget cut away from being shut down.
It is, and always should be, about the ride and about the community.