Great Falls, Montana Changes Rules to Allow BMX!

The Riverside Railyard skatepark in Great Falls, Montana had a number of problems, including vandalism, graffiti and safety issues. BMX was banned from the park. Now BMX riders are working with the city to solve these problems. And the BMX ban has been lifted.


Skate park users in Great Falls have drafted a new set of rules for the Riverside Railyard.

One of the biggest changes is the new allowance of BMX bicycles and scooters at the park.

Other changes included defining proper park etiquette and equipment requirements.

Mayor Michael Winters stopped by the skate park on Wednesday to express his gratitude to the park users for their help making the park safe.

Winters told them, “I want to tell you I was impressed with your mannerisms, your respectfulness, and your ability to take the ownership and responsibility for maintaining what we do here.”

The finished list of rules will go to the Great Falls Police department for evaluation; park users want to be sure their new set of rules are enforceable.

(May 27, 2011) Vandalism, graffiti, and safety are just a few of the issues facing the Riverside Railyard Skate Park in Great Falls, and on Thursday night, city officials held a forum for people to discuss those issues.

The meeting was standing room only, with more than 60 people – a clear sign that the users of Riverside Railyard want to take responsibility for their park.

The first issue on the agenda was graffiti. Although police say it’s not gang-related, some of it is obscene, and park users were adamant that they don’t want it either.

Talan Harrington said, “There are different paint qualities that pose a risk”

Others said they don’t mind the graffiti; biker Ricky Lopez said, “I would prefer it at the skate park rather than on someone’s business.”

The general consensus was that they would rather paint over the graffiti and turn it into street art.

Artist Rachel Kaiser said, “I propose doing artwork over it and I know the paint is an issue, the slipperiness. We can work that out, there’s good spray paint out there.”

Another problem facing the skate park is continued vandalism. Since it opened in 2004, the city has had to pay more than $15,000 dollars in repairs.

Marty Basta, director of Great Falls Park & Recreation, noted, “I don’t really think it’s the group in here that’s involved with that but I don’t know how we put a stop to it.”

Currently , the park is technically only open to skaters even though the majority of those in attendance were bikers, but many users of the park don’t see a division.

Harrington said, “We’re not bikers and skaters. This is one whole community here, pretty much.”

In the end, everyone seemed satisfied with the outcome of the meeting.

Mayor Michael Winters said, “With ownership comes responsibility and this group of people stepped right up and they’re going to take that responsibility and you saw that. Good questions, good solutions.”

Dwayne Taylor commented, “I think the meeting went absolutely perfect. Almost everything was addressed that I think needed to be addressed.”

Park users who want to help shape the future of the park have formed a committee that will meet next week with the Park and Recreation director to come up with a new set of rules for the park.

Once that is finalized, it will be presented to the city commission and there will be an opportunity for the public to give their input.


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About Sam Pederson

BMX Riders Organization Regional Director, California

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