Build A Bike Park Dream Team

Photo: Cover art from IMBA's 2014 book Bike Parks: IMBA's Guide to New School Trails

The content of this web resource has been excerpted from "Community," Chapter 2 of Bike Parks.

One successful strategy for advancing a bike park is to establish a “dream team.” Assembling such a team is effective because it ensures that planning efforts on multiple fronts will be well-informed and guided by experts. Keep in mind that many professionals in fields like law, medicine, and finances would love to have an excuse to apply their skills to something energizing and completely different from their usual concerns. But they can not contribute to your project if you do not ask them.

The dream team does not need to coalesce right away; it may take months to fill all of the roles described below. Even if you are not able to find the perfect candidate for every role, it’s well worth considering how many types of skill sets you will need to draw on to create a top-notch facility. Often these team members are professionals in their fields that have a vested interest in a park being developed and are willing to donate some pro-bono expertise to the project.

Suggested Dream Team Candidates

Communications Expert: Having a team member that is fluent in graphic design, website building, and social media will be invaluable. Being able to quickly and effectively disseminate information via print- and web based tools is vital for a modern organization to look professional and build support. As the project moves from conception to planning and design, the ability to produce professional graphics, even construction-grade schematic drawings, will be incredibly useful.

Community Leader: In order to engage the broader public, a natural place to start is with people who already are already well known and highly thought of in your town. Anyone from a school principal or coach to a church leader might fit the bill. Sometimes this person will be an enthusiastic rider, other times it’s just someone who wants to see good things happen. The key is that adding them to a dream team will help convince people that your bike park is not just an expensive playground for a few hardcore mountain bikers to enjoy, but benefits the community as a whole.

Construction Expert: As you will read in the chapters ahead, building a bike park provides a full immersion in the construction trades. It would be hard to have too many advisors with backgrounds like architecture, engineering, construction site management, and drafting. Be aware, however, that there is potential for conflicts of interest to arise if these advisors start making recommendations to employ them personally, or the firms that they work for, when it’s time to award fee-based contracts.

Fundraising Specialist: It takes a significant amount of money to build a bike park, and even though the funds will probably not all come from your group, or any single source, you will definitely need to demonstrate solid financial skills before anyone entrusts your project with large sums of money. Professional representation from the realms of banking, financial or business management adds respectability and inspires confidence.

Grant Writer: Having an experienced grant writer on your team may prove to be an invaluable asset for identifying prospective avenues of funding. There are often match grant opportunities that leverage initial funding, even a modest sum, into a larger pot of money.

Legal Advisor: Every park project is unique with its own set of legal parameters concerning agreements, liability, and risk management depending on the state laws and local statutes. There is no one-size–fits all legal advice when it comes bike park development. Having a local legal advisor on the team that has experience in relevant fields like recreation law, contract law or municipal law will be hugely beneficial.

Local Government Expert: Public bike parks are usually built on land owned and managed by local governments and the agencies they oversee. If you can attract someone to your team with a strong knowledge of your local government, or the workings of local governments in general, your project will likely benefit greatly from their insight.

Neighborhood Representative: Once a location is selected within your community to develop a bike park, it can be beneficial to have a local supporter that serves as a liaison between the project and the neighborhood association and its residents. Having a neighbor invested in the project can help prevent misunderstanding and help diffuse any “not in my backyard” (sometimes abbreviated as “NIMBY”) sentiments.

Spokesperson: There should be an appointed person that represents the bike park project to the public. This person should be friendly, well spoken, and comfortable in making presentations for groups both large and small. Land managers and public officials do not want to be bombarded with multiple messages so it is important that the appointed person has the trust of local bike advocates and can represent them well.

Skilled Riders: Few bike parks projects get started without an enthusiast rider, most likely several of them, to drive the project forward. As an added bonus, people with significant experience riding in bike parks are usually also well-acquainted with sculpting lips and shaping berms. Keep in mind, however, that building features for a small group of talented riders is quite different than building a large-scale bike park that’s meant to be accessible for all ability levels. Watch out for skilled riders who may attempt to push the project away from serving the broader community and make it into an experts-only playground.

The suggestions offered in this and other IMBA trailbuilding articles do not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Trailbuilders and landowners are responsible for the safety of their own trails and facilities. Freeriding and dirt jumping are high-risk activities that can result in serious injuries. IMBA's goal is to help land managers and volunteers manage these risks by sharing information.