Leave it to San Francisco bike advocates to come up with a mountain bike park that would incorporate nature and extreme riding trails into an urban setting.
The Bay Area is the birthplace of mountain biking, yet San Francisco doesn't have a single bike park. A local group called San Francisco Urban Riders intends to change that.
SFUR is pushing to bring a bicycle skills park to a suitable location inside San Francisco's second-larger park, McLaren Park, which provides 312 acres of nature trails and recreational amenities.
“Sunday Streets events are great, but getting kids in our parks is where the everyday opportunity is,” Dan Schneider, SFUR board member said. “Now we are seeing several schools start bike programs and are incorporating mountain biking into PE curriculum, and can ride to and from McLaren Park in just an hour.”
McLaren Park is San Francisco's second-largest park
The sections of the park that SFUR want to convert are currently unused and affected by water erosion.
“We have been working with SF Rec and Park for several years now to bring a bike park to the Sunnydale Avenue site. We are planning to concentrate on the sorts of skill building features you just can't find on the average trail, jump lines, wall rides, step-ups, vert, pump tracks, etc.,” said Tom Borden, SFUR Board Member. “The range of difficulty will be balanced so that we can draw in novice riders but still offer engaging challenges for skilled riders.”
According to the bike park's conceptual design, it would include BMX and mountain bike terrain parks with a variety of features and difficulty levels, for kids and adults. The terrain parks will have table tops, hips, lip jumps, berms and anti-berms, rollers and log drops, and the terrain will be made from dirt ,with a few metal and wood features.
The bike park plans caught the attention of mountain biking pioneer, Hans Rey.
“If this is a successful project, it will be an example to others,” Rey said. “It appeals to the majority and will bring in new cyclists. The bike park would really complement the trail system.”
Four years ago Hans Rey adopted the concept of a Flow Country trail: a trail that is built to certain standards and is “never steep, never extreme, and never dangerous.”
“When traveling, people can use any kind of bike and be at any experience level, and you know it’s a certain quality and length,” Rey said. “Trails like this are popping up and I think in the next ten years, a lot will happen. This could help the whole city.”
Currently, there are four or five coined Flow Country trails in the world.
Since 2006, bicycle riding in the city has shown an increase of 71 percent and is up by 7 percent since 2010, according to The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the Sustainable Streets Division’s 2011 Bicycle Count Report.
Hans Rey is a big proponent of the proposed bike park
For almost two decades, illegal races and trails have been going on at the park and SFUR is attempting to provide a more safe and controlled environment for all park-goers.
“Multi-use trails are great for cross-country style recreation, and hosting permitted events, but we want to keep X Games type of bike activity off the multi-use trails and concentrate that in the bike park,” Schneider said. “This will benefit all users of McLaren Park.”
SFUR will find out in December if they were awarded a Community Opportunity Fund Grant, which is administered by Rec & Park. They are also hosting The SF Urban Enduro event, a four-mile, mixed-surface loop that is scheduled for McLaren Park in March 2013. Money from the event will go towards funding the McLaren Bike Park project.