Feature Article - April 2016
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Get In on the Action

Programming Skateparks & Bike Parks for Safety & Success

By Joe Piaskowy

The debate is over: Skateboarding and biking (BMX and mountain) have become mainstream staples of American communities and two of the most popular sports for young men and women.

According to Statista.com, in 2014 there were 6.8 million skateboarders in the United States, half of which were under the age of 17. The same site says roughly 1 million people under the age of 25 identify as freestyle bike riders (BMX). Compare that to the 2.4 million kids who participated in Little League Baseball in 2013 (the last year Little League participation was tallied) and you get a sense of just how popular the sports have become.

As such, chances are you either already have a skatepark, or bike park, in your town or you're considering putting one in. Whether you have one already, are getting ready to put one in, or are debating adding an action park to your community, this article should give you some ideas and advice on how to use programming to best set your park up for long-term success.

Skaters for Public Skateparks sums the importance of programming well, "Skatepark programming can help prevent injuries and avoid safety issues, discourage illicit behavior, and even help to temper the obnoxiously lawless climate that a mismanaged skatepark may develop."

Let's take a look at some of the ways strong programming can lead to a safer, more vibrant park, as well as get some expert advice on how programming can lead to a stronger more successful park.

Programming and Safety

Most major injuries and deaths don't occur at skateparks. Most happen from falls on irregular public surfaces like stairs, rails and curbs or when cars strike skaters or bikers.

According to Skaters for Public Skateparks, in 2014 there were 28 skateboard-related deaths, 23 of which were due to skateboarders being struck by a car while skateboarding on the street. There were zero skatepark-related deaths in 2014.

As the popularity of both skating and biking grows, it becomes more and more imperative that communities create safe spaces for the youth to gather and practice their craft.

The Tony Hawk Foundation points out on its website that, "With 6.8 million skateboarders in the U.S., and only about 3,500 skateparks available for them to ride, the need for more safe skateparks has never been greater."

An obvious benefit of good programming means you'll keep skaters and bikers at the park and off the streets, providing a safe place for them to develop their skills.

Programming can also help here by providing skate and BMX lessons to beginners, as well as more experienced athletes. Not only does this allow for you to teach proper form and safety methods, but helps grow your pool of potential visitors as you're teaching novices techniques that will make them feel much more comfortable at the park.