BMX activist Mike Hines reported back to The Range that the BMX protest at the new Albert Gallego Skate Park at Santa Rita Park on Sunday, June 28 didn't exactly change any minds about allowing BMX to share the concrete with skateboarders—but the turnout was encouraging.
"We counted well over 100 people," Hines says.
For more info, check out Hines' blog clickedbmx.com
Turns out the BMX protest was just the beginning of his efforts to get the word out about Tucson's need for a place for BMX riders to go. Joining him is Scott Laos, father of Kory Laos, the 14-year-old killed by a car while riding his BMX near the UA two days before his 15th birthday. They spoke at the Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday, and planned to speak in front of the Tucson City Council.
The county voted to approve naming a proposed BMX park in the Flowing Wells District Park the Kory Laos Memorial Bike Park. Hines says that could take years before ground breaks, and until then, he wants the City Council to consider allowing BMX at Santa Rita Park.
"The bike park is going to happen, the only question is when. I doubt it will be 10 years, I even doubt it will be 5 years. ... We need a place now. ... I think Santa Rita would be perfect until the bike park opens, two days a week would be acceptable, I'd even say no pegs. They can't tell me rubber inflated tires do more damage than metal skateboard trucks, and hard composite plastic wheels, right? Anyway, that's what I'm going to propose. Also, we need to educate those who have no idea what we ride. When most people hear the letters BMX, they think racing. We have to give them examples and ideas of what we do, that will help them see where we are coming from."
Regarding the protest, Hines says the Tucson Police were there for about an hour watching and waiting in the parking lot.
"At one point, one of the BMX riders went and asked the officers if they would arrest any of us for riding in the park. They said, 'We won't arrest anyone, or take their bikes, but we might ask you to exit the park.' It was obvious to all of us the police had better things to do then arrest kids on bikes. I'm not going to lie and say we didn't all go ride the park that day, but the majority of the time we set up obstacles and rode on the basketball court adjacent to the skate park. The whole time we where at the park, there was a total of two skaters using the facility."
Hines says the Monday after the protest, he contacted Peg Weber of Parks and Rec, and Joel Peterson in risk management. Hines says Peterson wrote back with a suggestion that he raise the funds to get a bike facility installed.
"That is exactly what the skateboard folks did several years ago. Go for it!," Peterson e-mailed to Hines.
Hines, however, remembered the money coming from different sources, and not the skateboarder community.
His breakdown of the $795,310 project:
$150,000 from/for, Pima County Neighborhood Reinvestment Program, (1997 Bond—CIP)
$151,825 from/for, Back to Basics- Community Development Block Grant Funds
$341,660 from/for Community Development Block Grant Fund (CDBG)
$111,825 from Ward 5, where the park is located and pitching in, in 2008 to advance the 1997 project idea, Ward 3 $20,000 and $20,000 from the Mayor's Office
The goal is $1.5 million for the Kory Laos Memorial Bike Park.
"We will eventually have a BMX park in Kory's name, but I'm afraid that will be years from now. Where are we supposed to go until then?"