With the new Houston Skate Park all over the news, it seemed appropriate and necessary to get a clear look at what is going on around the grand opening banners and protest posters.
I chose to interview Desmond Startin, a Houston native and father who has been riding for over 15 years.
1. Tell us about the Spring (Houston), Texas Skate Park. What do you know about the project and how have you been involved?
The Spring Skatepark has been in the works for 3 years or more. Unfortunately, BMXers were not invited to the table at the conceptual phase. PUSH, Public Use Skateparks for Houston, a 501c3 organization was at the table and advocated for a skateboard only park. Upon hearing about the construction of the park via Facebook, myself and 3 other BMXers met with Sally Bradford of the Greenspoint Redevelopment District. This was last year, when she told us that it was not her decision to not allow bicycles and if she had the power she would change it. At that point, we formed HUB, Houston United BMXers, and began going through all the proper channels: Houston Parks and Recreation Dept., City Council Meetings and City Council Members. All pointed the finger back at Sally Bradford.
2. On the day of the grand opening, you were present with protestors regarding the “No Bikes” policy. Why is it important to you that skateboarders and bicycles share space?
Bicycles in Houston do not have access to a concrete ramp park within the city limits. We have to travel to other parks funded by surrounding municipalities. It is not just bicycles they are disallowing. They have also banned scooters. There are numerous parks in the Houston, Texas and across the nation that allow all extreme sports to share ramp parks.
3. Explain how bicycles, skateboarders, and in-line skaters sharing a park would not be a safety concern.
The safety concern has been disproven by a study done by the Portland Parks and Recreation Department. It is the inexperience of the ramp park patron that contributes to collisions. It is a common rule among ramp park patrons to take your turn and to keep a heads up. This among other park etiquette is passed down to new patrons by more seasoned patrons.
4. The latest development regarding the park is the city offering a similar park to be built for bikes only. What do you think of this idea?
First off, it is not a wise choice to spend more money on a concrete ramp park when we can share a facility. Especially, seeing that this is the largest in the nation. We are currently in talks with Sally Bradford about building a facility across the street. However, at this point it seems they still don’t understand bicycles ride the same terrain as skateboards. Instead, they are pushing for a dirt BMX track that is used for sanctioned races.
5. These projects don’t just effect cyclists and skaters, every taxpayer will be effected and has a voice. What do you think tax payers and voters should know when it comes to the decisions being made by their parks department?
To clarify, Houston Parks and Recreation does not manage or own this park. However, we do believe the Greenspoint Redevelopment district is not being fiscally responsible.
Read more articles about the new park:
About the author
A.K. Klemm is a novelist, book reviewer, and freelance writer who happens to love cycling. You may find her humanities blog here: http://anakalianwhims.wordpress.com/. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.