My name is Jordan Horras, I am 6-feet, two inches tall, and ride a ten-year-old's bike. That's right, I have not graduated from my 20-inch BMX bike. From my first Schwinn (R.I.P.) Predator to my current bike, I have been obsessed with BMX. I do some of the tricks often seen on X-Games and other extreme sport shows. Most days after work one can find me at the Elmhurst skate park practicing. Which brings me to the topic of this letter, the Oak Park skate park.
In the last year Oak Park opened its first skate park and hopefully not its last. First, I want to thank all those who worked hard to make this valuable addition to our community. Now skateboarders and rollerbladers have a place to practice their sport in a safe and well-built environment. However, to my dismay, I am not allowed to use the facility. That is right, bikes are not allowed in the park.
I have been into BMX for the better part of my life thus far, so I'm well equipped to clear up some of the confusion on why BMX riders should be allowed into the skate park
First, many people think skate parks are only for skaters, thus the term skate park. Skate park is a generic name for a park with ramps to be ridden by bikes or skateboards. Just like Xerox has become a generic name for photocopiers.
The second reason for allowing bikes into the skate park is that there are hundreds if not thousands of skate parks that allow bikes into their parks. Bikers and skaters can and do get along! We all can and do ride the same ramps, no matter the size or set up of the ramps. Currently the closest park that allows bikes is the Elmhurst skate park, which is nine miles away. It is a great example of a skate park that has allowed riders and skaters to enjoy and practice their respective sports in the same arena.
Thirdly, BMX is healthy for the body and mind. Cycling is a great form of physical exercise. BMX is no less physically demanding. BMX is also relaxing for the mind. I can enjoy being outside, being with friends, and just riding my bike!
Finally, many people think bikes will destroy the ramps. This is a flat out lie. BMX bikes, like any other bike, use rubber tires filled with air, unlike skateboards' hard wheels. When bikes land, the impact is lessened by the tire bulging, which consumes most of the pressure. Pegs are used to grind on metal coping or rails, much like skateboarders grinding on metal trucks.
The bottom line is that bikes do no more, if not less, damage to the ramps than any skateboard does.
If anyone is interested in learning more about this topic they can visit www.accessbmx.com. This site was created to assist BMX riders in the process of getting skate parks and getting BMX riders into skate parks.
In closing, I would urge the park district leaders and/or village board to rethink the decision and to allow bikes into the skate park. Oak Park has built a great skate park, but please let bikes in! To all the cyclists out there, keep pedaling and ride hard!