British Columbia

Vancouver bike park that attracts dozens of children daily to be removed

They’re almost unnoticeable if you’re walking through Grays Park in East Vancouver — a few pieces of wood and a series of bumps that trace the edge of one of the grass fields — but they provide hours of entertainment every day to dozens of children who live nearby. 

The City of Vancouver says the bike track will be dismantled Thursday due to safety concerns

Young cyclists race on the pump track at Grays Park in Vancouver, which the city plans to remove later this week. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

They're almost unnoticeable if you're walking through Grays Park in East Vancouver — a few pieces of wood and a series of bumps that trace the edge of one of the grass fields — but they provide hours of entertainment every day to dozens of children who live nearby. 

Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, wooden ramps and a pump track, which is a bike course made up of berms and mounds of dirt, appeared at the park. The children are tight-lipped about who the builders were because they don't want anyone to get in trouble.

Every day since, the park has been packed with kids ranging from youngsters who are still wobbly on two wheels to teens that perform complicated tricks and jumps.

"After dinner, usually at 7 p.m. we come meet here," said Tessa Wallace, a 12-year-old biker. "All the kids around the neighbourhood come," said her friend, Moira Downard, 12.

Last week, however, the bike park was blocked off by yellow caution tape and word started to spread that the city plans to remove the pump track.

Parent Amanda Richmond says her children will be heartbroken if they lose their favourite place to play.

"If the city wants to take it away, then we'd really like to work with them to get an official pump track put in, so that all the neighbourhood kids can enjoy it," she said.

 "Hopefully, they can leave this one here until that can happen."

Ezra Milford, 11, gets some air off one of the ramps that has been placed in a drained wading pool at Grays Park in Vancouver, B.C. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Children have left signs near the bike track that say, "Leave our pump track and jumps alone!" and "Don't take away our fun."

City response

City crews were notified about the track last week and deemed it unsafe upon completing an inspection.

No one from the city was available for an interview, but the communications department confirmed in an emailed statement that work to remove the track is scheduled to begin on Thursday.

"Half of the garden bed has been removed as a result of someone building a BMX track, complete with depressions and undulations," the statement said.

"The area near the shrub bed had exposed rebar from the remnants of a ramp that had been built to launch into the parking lot."

Milford wants the City of Vancouver to leave the pump track that dozens of children use every day at Grays Park. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Place to ride

The city's position isn't a popular one with children at the park, who say other pump tracks in the city aren't close enough to cycle to.

"This is basically all we do all day," said Scarlett Wallace, a 10-year-old biker. "We'd be really sad if it wasn't here."

Several parents have sent emails to the city, asking for a permanent pump track at the park or another location that's close by.

"The Park Board supports access to safe bike parks and pump tracks and has several options for riders to use," the city's statement said.

"The Park Board does not condone individuals building their own tracks within public parks, as it is unsafe and puts users at risk."

CBC Vancouver's Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email impact@cbc.ca.

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