Bike park on the Bloomingdale Trail?

  • People use the skate park in Logan Square located underneath the Kennedy Expressway.
People use the skate park in Logan Square located underneath the Kennedy… (Brian Cassella/Chicago…)
August 27, 2013|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco | RedEye

Lebster Pabon traded his skateboard for a bicycle his senior year of high school so he could ride to work.

He ended up getting really into bikes and BMX riding. But as bike-friendly as Chicago is with bike lanes, signals, and bike-sharing, there is no dedicated city public bike park that solely accommodates BMX riders.

That's why Pabon, 26, a youth cycling instructor at West Town Bikes, has asked the Chicago Park District to include a bike park at the proposed expanded area of Walsh Park at the eastern end of the Bloomingdale Trail.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Tuesday for the three-mile trail also known as The 606, which runs along Bloomingdale Avenue from Ridgeway to Ashland avenues. The first phase of the project will open to the public in fall 2014.

According to the trail plans, the extra parkspace will include a wheel-friendly event plaza for skateboards, wheelchairs, rollerblades, scooters and bikes.

All wheeled devices will have access to the multi-purpose space, said Beth White, Chicago area office director for The Trust for Public Land.

But current design plans don't include ramps for stunts found in traditional skate or bike parks and there may not be enough space to accommodate those specific amenities, she said.

The design is still being refined and programming for the space is being developed, she said.

For now, Pabon said he goes to the Logan Square Skate Park where dozens of other cyclists rides around daily, but the surfaces and ramps built and positioned for skateboards are not ideal for BMX bikes. And Pabon said they get kicked out because it's a skate park.

"There isn't any bike-friendly skate park - ramp riding style - in the city of Chicago for bikes," Pabon said.

The other alternatives are to ride out in the suburbs or even out of state.  The closest thing to a bike park in the city is a spot called The Garden near Lane Tech High School, which has dirt jumps, not cement, and is better suited for mountain bikes, he said.

A bike park for BMX riders is needed in Chicago, he said.

"A bike park would be awesome. A bike park is going to allow a BMXer to ride in a safer setting because the ramps are designed for bikes," Pabon said.

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