New Pier Park facility welcomes skaters, BMX’ers

Pier Skate/BMX park opening day

[Look before your leap]

On Saturday, Portland officially opened the Pier Park Skatepark. Amid an eager crowd of hundreds, Parks Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Mayor Tom Potter, Commissioner Sam Adams, local skating advocates and St. Johns community members cut the ribbon on what is the first of 19 new skateparks coming to Portland.

In addition to skaters, bikers also showed up to test themselves on the new pools, rails, and full-pipe. I rode out to St. Johns to check out the action, but I locked my bike up at the entrance.

I’m a total outsider in the world of BMX riding so I just mulled around and soaked up the atmosphere. It was sort of chaotic with so many skaters, bikers, and onlookers all trying to get close to the vertical walls to see the action. Everywhere you looked someone was whizzing by. Collisions and near-misses were rampant.

Pier Skate/BMX park opening day

[Bear Polychlonis]

I bumped into Bear, an old friend I’d met during a visit to Weir’s Cyclery. Bear lives just four blocks away from Pier Park and said he plans on being out there everyday. Lucky for Bear, he graduates from high school in six weeks. Some kids have all the luck.

The next park in the plans will built at Glenhaven Park in northeast Portland. Like the Pier Park Skatepark, Glenhaven will be built by Dreamland Skateparks, one of the most respected skatepark builders in the country.

This an exciting initiative and it’s great to see so much energy and cooperation between the city and community groups to build places for kids to do their thing.

Pier Skate/BMX park opening day

[No lycra in sight]

What I like about the BMX and street riding scene, is that it’s the only type of cycling that kids actually think is cool. Once kids think bikes are cool, they might start riding them to school, then to work, then to the store, and so on.

At Interbike, there was always an entire separate section just for the BMX industry. It was like a whole other world where the rest of us corporate-polo-shirt wearing, Timbuk2-loving types stuck out like a sore thumb.

Who knows, maybe BMX can change the world…

Take a browse through my photos for more of the BMX scene at Pier Park.

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Gregg
Gregg
16 years ago

I think it’s great that bikers and skaters share the same place. When I was younger, territory fights (often physical) between the two groups were pretty common. Of course, that was back when they were closing everything due to insurance liability so I guess we were all just fighting over the few scaps we had left.

Mike
Mike
16 years ago

Thanks for an article about bmx and street riding. We seem to be the bastard step-children of the cycling community and it’s nice to see an article involving us on this website. Even if you don’t ride the parks involvement at these meetings is welcome because skateboarders outnumber bicycles 10 to 1, and a vocal part of the skateboard community doesn’t want us at the parks. I’ve almost been assaulted in the for saying biker should have access, even if limited If you’ve got a kid get’m riding, and please send an e-mail or write a letter saying you think bikes should be allowed at all future skatepark developments in Portland. After all todays bmxer is tommorrows commuter.

ryan
ryan
16 years ago

Parks and Rec has already expressed concern about potential BMX related damage to some of the grindable surfaces at Pier Park. So please, if you want to keep this facility and future construction bike legal, ride with protective plastic PARK PEGS ONLY. Or better still, pull off your pegs altogether, and ride only the vert areas!

Tom Miller
Tom Miller
16 years ago

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but in one sentence, bikes don’t belong in the Pier Park Skatepark or in any skateboard park. Bike use damages the park and displaces skaters, especially youth. Plastic “park” pegs do not get used at the park; in fact their use is dismissed as foolish by the vast majority of bike riders at the skatepark. Unfortunately, those are facts.

I’m a lifelong skateboarder and co-founder of Skaters for Portland Skateparks, the non-profit group that spent the last four years volunteering to make the Pier Park skatepark happen.

I’m also a regular bike commuter and one-time BTA board member. In my professional role as Sam’ Adams’ chief of staff, everybody who involves themselves in city politics as they relate to bikes knows me to be a strong friend of bicycling.

Local BMX riders tend to be young, unorganized, and reactionary. For example, tagged at the skatepark on the full pipe is, “FUCK SKATERS!” (It’s no surprise who’s responsible for that.) It’s an unfortunate situation and I’d guess that if BMX-related behavior continues as is at the skatepark, BMX is going to banned from additional skateparks.

What’s not clear to skaters is why the BMX ridership feels entitled to skateparks. I’ve posed this question to BMX’ers for years, and the response has always been, “We want to ride it and you guys should share.” If “sharing” undermines the primary use of the facility for the primary user group, it’s not really sharing.

There are lots of things I want access to, but cannot because granting access to me would undermine the primary intention. As a kid, I used to ride a bike illicitly on a public golf course (great jumps off tee boxes). Never ever would a municipality grant bike access to a golf course. Even in hours when golf was not being played. Why? Bike use damaged (a strong and not entirely accurate word, actually) the golf course. It makes you wonder why mountain bikes are banned from Forest Park single track.

The skatepark situation is actually clearer. BMX-caused damage at the brand new Pier Park skatepark is documented. In the long run, what needs to happen is development of separate facilities for bmx. I support bmx in all its forms so long as it’s not interfering with other uses. The BMX community needs to mature, acknowledge its adverse impacts to skaters and the facilities, organize, and take care of itself.

Skaters pitched just get this argument to the Parks bureau for Pier Park’s management, but the Parks bureau insisted on bmx access. What’s happening out there was predicted the day the Parks bureau bestowed access to BMX. It was a bad policy decision that, I predict, will change by necessity in one way or another.

Cate
Cate
16 years ago

Tom, why isn’t the City building the BMX riders their own facility? Isn’t that the obvious solution here? Why do the skateboarders get preference? I’m not getting it.

Daryl
16 years ago

Stop complaining if you start complaining about it you are going to ruin this great opportunity for all of us. Bikers will get their share out of the deal. So Stop Complaining. Maybe the city does care about the bikers
Bikers are lame anyways.

rick
rick
16 years ago

Tom, you are being a wet blanket. I don’t see any skateboader running any plastic covers on their trucks to minimise any possible damage to parks. The parks are being built with the strength needed to survive abuse, or they should be. Bike stunt riding does not undermine the the idea of a park that can be used for stunt riding. As a bike rider I do use the same terrain and obstacles to improve my riding skills.

Dabby
Dabby
16 years ago

The real answer is to build side by side parks, one for bmx, one for skateboarding.
It is a fact that bmx bikes do heavy damage to a park built for skateboarding.
The impact of the heavy bike, plus a generally heavier rider, knocks the cement out from under the coping, which, over time will ruin the park.
This problem would not be aleviated by plastic park pegs in any way.
It is the responsibility of the city to provide Side By Side, or at least one of each, skate and BMX parks.
I believe it is also the responsibility of the city to protect young skaters from being nailed by a 245 pound biycle/rider coombo going mach 2 through a corner.
BMXer’s who think they don’t damage parks are living in a dream world.
They know the damage done by the bikes is much, much heavier than could ever be created by skateboards.
They also know that in, admitting the truth, they would be kicked out of everywhere.
So let’s just build another park for ’em.
Now, before they ruin the ones built for the most difficult, and best sport ever, skateboarding.

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

Tom, people have been riding bikes in pools and on vert for just as long as skateboards have. We have just as much of a right to a public facility as you do.

I have ridden at parks and ramps where there have been skaters and BMXers and if everyone is respectful everyone gets their runs.

I suppose pegs do mess up cement coping quite a bit, but once again the issue of respect comes up. There is no supervision at a public skatepark like there was at skateparks BITD but there were also memberships and entry fees, and today public parks are free. That is the trade off I suppose.

I don’t know if there are enough BMX riders to justify the building of a BMX only “skate”park. I think if there was also terrain for freeriders/huckers there would be enough ridership to justify the building of a bike-only park.

Tiah
Tiah
16 years ago

Dabby,Dabby,Dabby…
As you surely are aware the likelihood of the city building a BMX park is probably about a tenth of a percent…if that. Probably way less.
And skateboarding is not the most difficult and best sport ever.
However if BMXers themselves rally to the cause perhaps they can get something done for them…or maybe just become skateboarders…
(I am not anti skaters or BMXers by any means, i just wanted to be a realist)

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
16 years ago

Glad to see this discussion. I plan to interview Tom Miller and others about this issue as soon as I can.

As for why the city isn’t building a BMX park, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Skaters are much more organized than the BMX community (is there one?) and they have done tons of work to make this happen.

The BMX community must get organized and begin to educate everyone (the public and the politicians) about why they need their own facility and demonstrate the demand for one.

Nothing happens with effective advocacy (would we be the #1 bike city without the BTA and Shift?).

All that being said, I still have a lot to learn about this issue and I look forward to reporting more about it soon.

factoryX
factoryX
15 years ago

i don’t really get why there are more skate parks than bike parks in beaverton/portland. it really sucks when you have to build you own stuff instead of riding a couple miles and spend the whole day jumping and having fun. and if you go, you are constenly worried about hitting a skater, a person learning how to bike/skate or even people just walking around doing nothing but getting in the way. from where i live there are two parks with in riding distance and they thprd, and farmington and the both suck.the other parks in the area it is illeagle to ride there. i would ride to portland to just to ride at a good park to ride at, dirt or concrete.

jimbo
jimbo
15 years ago

people have not been riding bikes on vert as long as skateboards, do the research. next time you\’re @ the park, lets switch and I\’ll run into you in the park, see how it feels to to get hit by a bike @ full speed…
bikers go organize and petition the city and work hard for years, then you\’ll get your parks…

Deb
Deb
15 years ago

Has anyone researched with the Whistler Muni up in BC on how they were able to put the BMX and the skateboard parks side by side? I do realize they have tourist money to make it work, among other things.

There are also disclaimers everywhere in Whistler regarding liabilty which seems to be one of our biggest concerns here in the states.

Codie Larsen
Codie Larsen
13 years ago

skateboarding and BMX should be able to ride the same parks.