Friday, June 24, 2011

Bike Parks Revealed (#3)

Many people are aware that state and local governments are suffering some serious financial troubles right about now. Here in Pittsburgh, cuts in the state education budget forced the school district of Pittsburgh to eliminate 220 jobs in one day this week. That is a lot of folks who thought they had a job yesterday who don't have a job today. In the middle of these cuts to public spending--austerity measures, if you're from Euroland--it surprises me that some local governments are actually managing to provide more services for their residents.

Valmont Bikepark Grand Opening from Jesper Kristensen on Vimeo.

The city of Boulder, Colorado opened the Valmont bike park about two weeks ago. This is probably the coolest public space for cycling in the world, no hyperbole. It's over 40 acres of dedicated trails and adventure features for cyclists in an urban setting. As a public park, this outdoor, open-space is free to use and open to absolutely everyone. This is a fantastic resources for cyclists. Although I fully support spending on public playfields for sports like baseball or football and soccer, I think this is a brilliant way to allocate a portion of the public recreation resources. This is awesome for those young people who are athletically inclined but who never quite find the right fit with organized team sports. I concede that Boulder is not a typical American city. I'm not going to actually research and present any actual numbers here, but I think we can safely assume that compared to other similarly sized MSA's Boulder has lower unemployment, higher percentages of bicycle commuting, higher property values(more tax revenue), higher percentage of college educated residents and greater civic participation. There is a reason for the "Republic of Boulder" bumper stickers. An urban bike park may not be the right fit for every city. But can we maybe use Boulder as an optimistic example of the possibility of creating wonderful, public, open spaces for cycling in other cities? I am hopeful.

Valmont Bike Park from on Vimeo.

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