The Redmond City Council took action to ban bikes from the Redmond skate park last week, following a number of complaints from skaters and conflicts between skaters and BMX riders.
The emergency ordinance, approved at the council's Tuesday evening meeting, will allow police to issue citations of up to $100 to anyone caught riding a bike at the skate park. Although bikes have been officially banned from the park since it opened in 2001, there was no city law giving police the authority to enforce it.
According to police chief Jim Soules, officers have ordered a small handful of BMX riders to leave the park on multiple occasions, only to have them return later. Soules said last Thursday he expected repeat offenders would be cited; Friday morning, police issued their first citations to unauthorized BMX riders.
"That park was developed and designed to be just one thing, and that's a skate park - not a bicycle riding park," Soules said. "This is just cleaning up something that maybe should have been done a long time ago, to clearly state that this is a skate park and no other uses of it are allowed."
Skaters contacted Friday afternoon at the park said they were pleased to hear that bike riders are no officially unwelcome. Twelve-year old Nick Donovan said the bikers tended to be older than the skaters and often arrived at the park in packs, taking over the park from the slower-moving skaters. On a few occasions, he's seen people riding motorized scooters in the skate park.
Zach Rice, 13, said he doesn't have any problems with the BMX riders himself, but he's seen more than a few occasions where bikers and skaters clashed. "There's been like two fights or close to fights in the last week or so between skaters and bikers," he said. Aside from the personality conflicts between skaters and bikers, skaters say the bikers have damaged the park by grinding their pedals and pegs against the concrete.
"They suck. I'm glad they're out; they just tear up the concrete," said 21-year-old skater Andrew Johnson of Bend. Local BMX riders have been working to diffuse the tension between the two groups by circulating a petition asking the city to build a second park for their use.
Eric Helie, owner of Trinity Bikes, has collected more than 100 signatures on the petitions at his shop on Highland Avenue. Helie said he thinks the city's decision to ban bikes at the skate park goes too far, suggesting the number of bikers or skaters unable to peacefully coexist - and the physical damage bikers do to the park - is fairly small.
"There's always going to be negative kids, on both ends," Helie said. "But I think for the amount of riders that were in there, at least the kids that come in to our shop quite a bit, they go down there and there's a respect. If they see kids skating around in there, they'll stop riding."
Helie said he's not as active in the effort to lobby the city for a BMX park as he once was, though he's tried to stay in regular contact with officials from the city's parks department to keep the issue alive. Chief Soules said he feels a dedicated BMX park would be the best solution for all involved, and encouraged the bicyclists to keep working with city officials.