NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 30, 2013

Selectmen nix plan for bicycle skills park, pump track

NEWBURY — Selectmen rejected a proposal to install a bicycle skills park and pump track on land underneath the Route 1 bridge near the rotary.

With its location under the highway and adjacent to the oversized MBTA parking lot and the end of the Clipper City Rail Trail, the site is an ideal spot for a free public bicycle facility, said William Blackwood IV in a proposal presented to selectmen on Tuesday.

Had it received approval, it would have been the first public pump track to open in northeastern Massachusetts, but selectmen were wary of the proposal because it required the town to accept liability on land that is actually owned by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Bike skill parks and pump tracks are a growing trend in communities across the nation as a healthy and active recreational alternative for residents of all ages and abilities levels. The New England Mountain Bike Association maintains a track in Chelmsford; other examples can be found in Elk Grove, Calif., Boulder, Colo., Hailey, Idaho, Green River, W.V., Portland Ore., Seattle, Wash., Maricopa County, Ariz., and even in urban sites like Brooklyn, N.Y.

The pump track operates on a continuous loop of rollers and berms. Instead of pedaling, riders propel themselves by shifting their body weight — or “pumping” — in conjunction with the track contours.

“For every skateboarder, there are at least three times as many mountain bikers and BMX riders. However, the local skateboard parks in both Newburyport and Salisbury explicitly deny access to cyclists in their posted rules,” Blackwood said.

He saw the bike park as a way to provide the community with sustainable recreation at minimal expense to both the environment and the taxpayer pocketbook. He was offering to install and maintain the facility at no cost to the town with help from friends, volunteers in the community and the Coastal Trails Coalition.

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