New Bike-Friendly Parkin Phoenix New Bike-Friendly Park in Phoenix
 Bike-Friendly Park in Phoenix

Click any image to see the Photo Album from this park. 

You know that Mesa is now allowing bikes in their concrete skatepark. What you don't know is the long, arduous journey it took to get there. There is a quote, "You don't get something for nothing", and that couldn't be more true than in Mesa's situation.

Here's the scoop: A protest was held in the fall of 2002 at Reed Skate Court (Mesa's concrete skatepark). About 75 kids took part in the protest, mostly bike riders, but also skaters, inline skaters, and scooter riders. Lucas Porzio was arrested and taken to the police station. Lucky for him, no charges were pressed and he was released. I covered this protest in my short doc, "When Others Are Oppressed", which can be viewed in the video clips section of my site,

On December 17th, 2002, a meeting was held by Mesa Parks and Recreation with bike riders about what Mesa could do to provide a place for BMX riders to ride. During the meeting, we were told that Reed Skate Court was off the table, and we would NEVER be allowed in there. Subsequent meetings were held with BMX riders who were committed to working on a solution with Mesa. Again, during those meetings we were informed that bikes would NEVER be allowed in Reed Skate Court.

Meanwhile, mountain bike-riding park rangers were initiating sting operations and chasing and macing bike riders at Reed Park if they resisted, and the Mesa Police Department was actually using their helicopter to help keep bikes out of the skate court.

In working with BMX riders, a solution was settled upon by Mesa Parks and Rec to the bike quandry. A temporary wooden park would be constructed for and with the help of BMX riders at Kleinman Park, where four tennis courts had been sitting closed down for a while because the surface wasn't in the pristine condition that tennis players demand. Thinking ahead, we bike riders made sure that Kleinman Park would allow all users, and we sold it to the local community as such. In fact, we ended up pulling a fast one on Tim Barnard, Mesa's Chief Developer of New Parks with that one. I was at the meeting when it actually clicked for him that if Kleinman Park allowed all users, the community would develop the expectation that Reed's concrete park would allow all users as well.

A very good design for a big wooden park was drawn up for Kleinman by Dale Terrell and myself. Dale, Rex Golos (a skater and BMX rider), and myself sat through multiple meetings only to see Mesa city staff go back on their word, go back on promises, and feed us endless lines of BS. After all of our own money and time we had spent to raise funds and gather support for a good place to ride at Kleinman park, and after tearing down John Parker's vert ramp for wood in 115-degree weather, the city ended up slapping burly asphalt over the tennis courts which were only cracked in some places. They bought five nasty little Huna ramps and three little rails, put them on the asphalt, and called it Kleinman Wheels Court. They refused to allow us to build with our used wood contrary to what they had told us prior. They said we had to have a structural engineer draw up plans for every ramp to be built in the park and a licensed contractor had to build it, all contrary to what they had told us prior. A comparison of Kleinman to Prescott, Arizona's bike-friendly concrete skatepark can be found in the video section of my site in my other short doc, "Kleinman Wheels Court vs. Prescott Skatepark".

Kleinman Wheels Court saw a fair bit of activity for a couple months, but BMX riders got sick of it pretty quickly and went back to riding Reed Skate Court. I did an interview for my full-length documentary on the bikes in skateparks effort in Arizona with Terri Palmberg, Mesa's Park Maintenance Supervisor a few days ago. We had worked very intensely with her ever since the December 2002 meeting. She said in her interview that Kleinman Wheels Court had served as a testing ground for comingling bike riders, skaters and inliners. She said Parks and Rec was able to use that information, plus all the information the bike riders had given them over the years to get the city attorney and risk management to approve bikes in Reed Skate Court. Terri also said that she believed bikes would NEVER have been allowed in Reed if it wasn't for the bike riders working so long and hard with Mesa Parks and Rec.

I'll never forget the point when Gilbert told Rex, "Man, I can't do this anymore," after spending a total of about 70 hours in the dead of summer tearing down Parker's ramp and moving and relocating loads of wood so it could be used in Kleinman Park. I'll never forget the utter frustration Rex had in his voice when he told me on the phone that after all our tons of work, Mesa was going to go with a few tiny pre-fab ramps.

Tremendous effort, tremendous strain, and a lot of our own money was spent to get a place to ride in Mesa. We've worked hard in other cities, but not as hard as Mesa. It is very fitting that this was the first one to allow bikes.

The situation is looking really good in the Phoenix area now, with Goodyear, Chandler, Glendale, Fountain Hills, and Tempe all opening bike-friendly concrete parks this year. ALL of which are a result of the massive bikes in skateparks effort we've had since 2002. BMX riders need to realize that if something needs to be changed, we have to change it. NO ONE is going to come along and just change it for us.

I recently visited Costa Mesa, California, and it is very disturbing to me that the only public, legal place to ride, in the heart of the BMX industry, is a 30-minute drive away in the ghetto of Long Beach. Those riders and riders around the nation need to know that they have to work in their own communities to get access to the skateparks, they have to work to get bikeparks built, and it's not easy, but it's the only way it will happen, and it will be worth it in the end.

Jason Ryan

The Bike, Blade and Board Coalition
Producer, Monkey Trainer
Bearded Lady/Psychic Flying Monkey Pdctns.

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