SAMBA launches Heatherwood Hills Bike Park project

SAMBA is excited to officially announce our partnership with Mainspring of Ephrata, Ephrata Borough and Green Mountain Cyclery to develop a new Bike Park at Heatherwood Park adjacent to the Warwick-Ephrata Rail Trail (WERT) and close to Fulton Elementary School, Ephrata Middle and High Schools and downtown Ephrata. Plenty of parking is available at the WERT lot at Fulton Street. View location here: www.trailforks.com/region/heatherwood-park-27491/

The Heatherwood Bike Park trail system will include three areas:  a pump track area suitable for the youngest riders on balance bikes as well as BMX and mountain bikes, a skill building area with progressive features and obstacles and a single track trail loop for learning the basics or building fitness. 

Numerous community donations are making this project possible, including a Dero Fixit station from Boyer’s Foods and SAMBA.  More donations for tools, materials and amenities are needed, so please check out the GoFundMe page and contribute: 

www.gofundme.com/bike-ephrata-mountain-biking-at-heatherwood-park

Work days will begin at the end of June and the Park is projected to open later this year. Let’s get them started early so we can grow the riding community from the ground up! As usual, we need your help! Watch SAMBA’s Facebook page for dates and times to come out and help make Heatherwood Bike Park a reality.  www.facebook.com/groups/sambabiker/

For questions, to volunteer or connect with SAMBA’s Trail liaisons visit: www.sambabiker.com/samba/contact/

Want to learn more about the value of bike parks? Please read on…

*Healthy Community, Healthy Economy: Urban Bike Parks By Philip Armour-Outdoor Industry Association. 

Biking makes up a significant part of the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy. According to Outdoor Foundation’s 2018 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, 16 percent of Americans—47.5 million people—participate in road, mountain, and BMX biking. It is the most popular outdoor activity for youth (ages 6–17). Those numbers help explain why the past five years have seen an exponential growth in urban bike park construction across the country. There are now at least 150 of these facilities in the United States, more than double the number in 2014. The list includes municipal bike parks, bike playgrounds, pump tracks, trail features, skills courses, and more.

Why are bike parks important for riders?

Municipal bike skills parks increase community equity by serving as starter environments or gateways to an activity that urban or rural participants might not otherwise experience. Not everyone can afford a full-suspension mountain bike, but almost anyone can pull a beater from the shed and go have fun. Bike parks are explicitly designed to be ride-able on a lot of different types of bikes by different levels of riders.

Traditional mountain biking has a host of barriers to entry. For most urban-dwellers or rural communities far from mountain trail systems, proximity is a barrier. So is transportation and skill or comfort level. Municipal bike parks help to address those issues. What’s more, they provide features for many different skill levels to attract local riders. Bikers of all ages can progress safely in controlled environments, without having to negotiate singletrack in remote areas, which requires additional skill-sets.

The bike parks movement indicates a maturation of the sport, as the public continues to drive park construction for the permanent benefit of local communities. Municipalities are responding and stepping up, too.

“Bike infrastructure is so exciting and fun, such a people-pleaser, that these projects tend to get a lot of media coverage,” says Tim Babcock of Progressive Bike Ramps. “Media reports on the volumes of people coming out to use these facilities, and the excitement builds on itself. These parks become community gathering places, and neighboring communities want the same.” And, he adds: “It’s been shown that bike parks receive higher frequency of use than traditional park amenities, like basketball courts, tennis courts or playgrounds.”

Why are bike parks important for communities?

Bike parks are particularly gratifying investments because, once constructed, they generate additional energy and enthusiasm that helps perpetuate the sport of biking. They constantly attract new users and calve off experienced riders with a passion for the sport—and often a passion to protect public lands for recreation. As Babcock puts it: “Use breeds advocacy.”

Municipalities, land managers, and local politicians experience the benefits of an activated, healthy community. These multiple feedback loops make bike parks self-perpetuating, net-positive investments.

The local community bike park on a municipality’s public property is a relatively new phenomenon. Twenty years ago, the idea was just starting to gain traction. Like skate parks or climbing gyms or even ski resorts—where enthusiasts return day after day to work on moves and increase performance—urban bike parks are a magnet for local cycling communities. Whether indoor or outdoor, privately owned or publicly funded, they are helping grow the sport of cycling.

“We find that trails and outdoor recreation bring a broad range of benefits to communities and to businesses…in terms of attracting visitors and also attracting new residents and improving the quality of life for the people who are already living in these communities” says Megan Lawson, a Ph.D. economist with Headwaters Economics. Lawson sees evidence of more municipalities investing in bike parks and trails because of the associated economic, social, and health benefits.

“Counties with outdoor recreation economies are more likely to attract new residents with greater wealth and have faster-growing wages than their non-recreation counterparts,” says Lawson. “These trends are particularly true in rural communities.”

*Summarized due to length. Full article here: www.outdoorindustry.org/healthy-community-healthy-economy-urban-bike-parks/

Thanks in advance for your help!

 SAMBA