The Tony Hawk Foundation Supports BMX

According to the Tony Hawk Foundation, “A new skatepark should always be presented as a community asset, and promoting it as a mixed-use facility is the most effective way to achieve that.”

Most public skateparks rely on community support and grants for fundraising. The Tony Hawk Foundation is a charitable organization that provides grants for concrete public skateparks. Founded in 2002, their work has supported 467 skateparks, of which 386 are open. These parks serve an estimated 3.5 million children annually, including BMX riders. The foundation supports mixed use, inclusive parks.

BMX Advocates can apply for a grant for their local mixed-use park here.

From The Tony Hawk Foundation’s Frequently Asked Questions Sheet:

Should bikes be allowed in skateboard parks?

Skateboarders and freestyle-BMX riders have much more in common than they do differences. The effort to promote a skatepark in a community that has never built one often meets political resistance from elected officials who are understandably reluctant to spend public funds on a new facility. Skateboarding is a new activity for them, and a skatepark is a facility they didn’t realize is necessary. Approaching elected officials as a coalition of skateboarders and freestyle-BMX riders indicates that the facility will accommodate a range of users, and isn’t just a product of skaters’ self-interest. A new skatepark should always be presented as a community asset, and promoting it as a mixed-use facility is the most effective way to achieve that.

While promoting mixed use is important, THF recognizes that mixed use may not conform to some state and municipal laws that limit state, county, or municipal exposure to liability. We encourage elected officials to seek legal remedies to these limitations and to seek compromises to accommodate mixed use of their skateparks.

We also recognize some very real concerns from skateboarders who are reluctant to use a skatepark while freestyle-BMX riders are in the park. The handlebars, pegs, and other projections on a bicycle can cause serious injuries, and the ability of bikes to make sudden sharp turns only increases the likelihood that a skater, who has more limited turning abilities, may run into them. If a skatepark cannot be safely used by both BMXers and skateboarders, their sessions should be staggered so that only one group uses the park at any one time.

Concerns of potential damage to the skatepark from bike use can be mitigated through design, construction techniques, and materials. Some prominent skatepark builders will not warranty their skateparks against damage caused by bikes, but seeking the cooperation of freestyle-BMX users to remove pegs or use soft pegs or peg caps can limit potential damage.

Inclusion of freestyle-BMX riders or other user groups is always most successful when those groups are involved on the skatepark steering committees throughout the process. Skateparks often require years of persistent advocacy, and the individuals responsible for those efforts will naturally feel more entitled to the skatepark than members of potential user groups that were not involved in the effort.

Accommodating additional user groups is always possible after the skatepark is completed, but the process is much less complicated when skateboarders and the additional user groups have a history of working together and sharing the burden of advocating for the skatepark.

 

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About Sam Pederson

BMX Riders Organization Regional Director, California

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