Action Sports Design Consultant Reviews Bike Skills Area

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About five weeks after the Upper Luther Burbank Park Bike Skills Area (BSA) temporarily closed, the city held a virtual town hall meeting regarding the future of the site.

On November 15, around 80 attendees – including BSA runners – joined city staff to listen to Action Sports Design (ASD) consultant Mike McIntyre offer his initial assessment of the area, which was was closed on October 7 due to major operational problems. and security issues for about six months.

Many participants provided valuable insight into the meeting, which included a report on upcoming work to address impacts on soils and vegetation and a review of potential site modifications – also known as BMX or Snake Hill – according to Alaine Sommargren, deputy director of public works for the city, in an audio recording of the meeting.

The BSA, which consists of bike paths and jumps, has been around for a few decades, and the city has seen a huge increase in use of the site over the past two years. Sommargren noted that several issues have come to the fore to justify the closure: unauthorized expansion of the course and construction of new trails and big jumps that exceed posted guidelines, and city maintenance staff has not been able to accommodate recent requests.

ASD was called into action to fully assess the site and provide the city with recommendations on improving the area. ASD is an Austin, TX-based professional planning designer and developer of public bike parks, BMX race tracks and skateparks worldwide.

From an October 25 online survey focused on current BSA users, the city received 95 responses and learned that 43% of users who participated are over the age of 25 and 42% are between the ages of 10 and 16. ; the majority want more MTB specific jumps, more jump lines and an improved return line to the session mat (starting point of the course); and some riders want more jumps for beginners and younger riders.

During his assessment, McIntyre mapped the course and jump layout, and walked through traffic patterns in the course and surrounding trails as well as drainage at the site.

One of his early findings is that the main trail to the BSA is shared with pedestrians and could lead to trail conflicts or other trail issues. In a poll at the meeting, 39 attendees wanted to see a dedicated biker trail to access the pad session; three said they would like cyclists to be required to cycle on paths to the BSA; and four said they would like to see a barrier erected between the BSA and the west side hiking trail.

In terms of tree assessment, a city arborist found that trees closest to the area of ​​active use are most likely declining due to root damage from digging, soil compaction from jumps during their construction and level changes. Four trees need to be removed and the remaining trees will be monitored regularly, Sommargren said.

As for the jump line layout, the BSA currently offers seven mountain bike jumps, which ASD says can be improved by smoothing out steep edges to avoid deep drop zones and creating drainage swales. to channel water appropriately away from the site.

“Ultimately, ASD is confident that the jumps that are currently on site could be improved to maximize space and also maximize skill development for riders currently using the site,” Sommargren said.

At the meeting, McIntyre offered two potential high-level jump line layout options, one with a power line splitting into two different jump lines and one with a power line splitting into one line. jump and a skill line. Each has its own set of three jumps. In a poll, 25 people preferred the first provision and 11 voted for the second.

A few of ASD’s preliminary recommendations to the city are that the BSA include professionally designed jumps that should be maintained in their designed form without any modification by the riders; improve the BSA within its existing footprint; and the city is restoring soil to hillsides and tree root zones.

Next, Sommargren said the city will work with ASD to develop a second user survey focused on jump design and layout. After receiving the finalized assessment report and recommendations from the ASD in December, the city will begin work on the site and possibly reopen the area in late spring or early summer 2022. Currently, the city does not have a dedicated BSA budget, she mentioned.

Community members have made a vital contribution to improving the BSA, Sommargren said.

“We are very grateful to all the members of the community who have been so involved in this project and so passionate about it,” she added.

For more information, visit https://letstalk.mercergov.org/bike-skills-area-at-upper-luther-burbank-park

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