A dedicated group of community organizers is looking to dig up support for a new Richmond bike park.
The project aims to transform a rundown, trash and weed infested City of Richmond-owned lot along the Richmond Greenway between 20th & 23rd into “Dirt World”—a 2.1-acre park that’s specially designed for BMX and mountain bikes.
According to project volunteer A.C. Thompson, the vision for Dirt World is to create “an outdoor oasis, a place where young people can get outside, get some exercise and build healthy social networks.”
Although work has already begun on creating Dirt World, support is greatly needed in the form of project volunteers and donations. “We are looking for volunteers to help with fundraising and outreach, and to get dirty out at the site…moving dirt, picking up garbage, weed whacking, etc.,” said Thompson via email.
Thompson told For Richmond there is a great need in our community for a bike park and that it will be empowering to youth in more ways than one.
“There is strong contingent of hardcore cyclists and many youngsters who would like to get into biking” in Richmond, said Thompson. “Ours is a pioneering effort to build the first bike park in the heart of a working-class city, a place where the majority of the population are people of color. We are bringing diversity to a sport that traditionally hasn’t had much.”
Dirt World is the brainchild of Richmond residents Jasmin Malabed and Dennis “D2” Hoskins, founders of the Dope Sauce Bike Club, a program that engages city youth in cycling. The dynamic duo dreamed up Dirt World after spearheading the successful building of a public pump track for bikers at John F. Kennedy Park in Richmond a few years ago.
Other community volunteers joined the effort, including Thompson and Jim Zahradka, a Richmond resident who is the assistant coach of Albany High School’s Mountain Bike Racing Team. Licensed landscape architect Jeanine Strickland also brought her expertise to the project, while former BMX pro Alex Fowler of Action Sports Construction agreed to develop the plans and direct the construction of the park.
“Our immediate goal is to raise $60,000 so we can address Phase I of the project,” said Zahradka, who said they hope to raise the funding by this fall.
During Phase I, say organizers, the funding will be applied toward designing/building the bike tracks and trails, purchasing pre-made wooden ramps and features and creating the basic park infrastructure.
The Phase I funding “will give them a functional bicycle skills park for all genre of off-road bicycles” and “people will be welcomed from all over the Bay Area,” Zahradka added.
For Phase II, Dirt World organizers will be looking to raise another $115,000 to create public artwork and install park amenities like permanent seating and picnic tables. The second phase funding will also help with events and cycling-related programs for youth.
According to organizers, when it’s completed, Dirt World will feature a pump track, multiple jumps for riders of all skill levels, a BMX race track, wooden wall rides and ladder bridges, and other features, including an area for very young riders.
The City of Richmond has stepped up for Dirt World by allowing organizers to adopt the park’s section of the Richmond Greenway and by providing in-kind donations. Other organizations helping the effort include Friends of the Richmond Greenway; Rich City Rides; Urban Tilth; Albany High School Mountain Biking Team; Trips for Kids; Restoration Design Group; NorCal Cycling League; Richmond Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee; and the Richmond Friends of Recreation, the project’s fiscal sponsor.
“It will be one of the largest of its kind,” said Zahradka re: Dirt World. “It’s going to be a real jewel for the city of Richmond.”
To support Dirt World with a donation, click here. Volunteers can visit Dirt World on the second Saturday of every month to help pitch in with on-site project work. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website here.
Photo credit: Josue Hernandez.