Philly Pumptrack at Parkside Evans
In 2012 I was approached by Ken Rydemko, Heidi Grunwald, and Harland Price to help engineer some design plans for an advanced pump track to be installed in Philadelphia’s Fairmont Park alongside a recreational center with Tennis , basketball courts and a small playground behind the Mann Theatre and below the Belmont Plateau. It took almost a year to get approved, then the calls were made to have it built. I offered my services to design / build and things started to happen. By the end of 2013 the Rough in Shape was forming and the vision to create a bigger and better space with an additional beginner track and common grounds was accepted. There were so many volunteers that came out to help with it I couldn’t believe it.. The City’s own Parks Forestry group helped a lot and there was always someone stopping by that was curios to what we were building out of the dirt. Soon Andreiana Perez our Project manager and I installed the conceptual design for the Park on the Kiosk made by Harland Price. People now had something to talk about in the Parkside community and would come down to the kiosk to show their friends and families.
AmeriCorp Has a chapter in Fairmount Park called “Power Corp”. I met with their director and offered them a complete start to finish hands in the dirt project if they were into it.. Our Project Manager Andreiana Perez helped me get inside the Rec Center and meet with Power Corps privately explaining the Design and call of duty. With a blink of an eye the Power Corps started to help with the environmental design of the tracks. Sorting out debris in fill material and installing the rain gardens and beds for the plants and trees. . That was very rewarding seeing most of the people involved in Power Corps didn’t ride bikes nor did they know what a pump track was. They were curious to say the least. It was a really great working with all the different people of Power Corps and sharing my knowledge with them all I would do it for every build.
In May of 2014 we opened the Pumptracks with Mayor Nutter cutting the Ribbon alongside our great group of builders, shapers, and supporters. He spoke of how he grew up as a child only a few blocks away and never in a million years thought the land would be turned into something like this. Music was going, the plants were being set and life in this community had a positive ring to it from now on.
We instituted a program I’ve been thinking of called “Dig To Ride” at the Philly Pumptracks. Ken, Heidi, Chuck, Andreiana, Dave, Travis, Brian, Kevin, Harland, Ray, Curtis, Marc, Chris and all the others from PPTC thought it was a great idea. They even put it into their logo design which looks really nice. “Dig To Ride” When people of all ages in the community come to help volunteer for a few hours a day servicing the tracks and the boundaries. They get to sign out and ride one of our bikes if they don’t have one.. Or if they want to try a bike designed more suitable for the tracks. Thanks to Fuji and Se Racing for providing bikes of all sizes, that was smart of them. And thanks to the local mechanics who stop out and help service the bikes…There’s helmets, pads , gloves, and a cache of handtools to use as well. “DigToRide” began to inspire young kids and parents to get outside visit the pump track daily, get dirty, ride bikes and feel good about themselves. It’s been a game changer for sure. Some say it has changed their lives…
The Philly PumpTrack Crew PPTC have been putting on Holiday events, A Poker Run, and even a Bike Swap that helped raise more awareness and even stimulated the kids and parents to bring out there old bikes and see just what the pumptrack area is all about.
Within design, the pumptracks offer you a low impact / high cardio exercise that is second to none. The rhythm you can create on your own and the personal satisfaction is rewarding every loop you take. It provides great blood circulation throughout the body and mind. While pumping your bike around the tracks you sharpen your bike handling skills and improve your eye & hand coordination….Which then you can take back home with you and your daily commute if you ride to work like a lot of the Greater Philadelphians…
You meet new friends and get to see whole families come to enjoy the tracks. It’s an adventure some young kids tell me. “Every time I go around , I find a new way to ride it”.
The Community’s involvement is huge. Fireman from the local ladder company provide hundreds of gallons of water to replenish the rain harvester hydration system when it runs low. The system harvests rain water but at times the tracks need more than it can capture. So They really have been a tremendous help, and some of the firemen even come back out and ride….
The City Parks Dept. realized the effort to create the tracks and maintain them and after some organizing with the heads of the PPTC they offered the pump track area two paid positions through the dept. This has helped out and eased a little of the workload from the volunteers of PPTC.
The Pumptracks have set hours of operation, and organized repair days, as well as a weather protection system through the wet and winter months to keep it in order. The Tracks are closed during the winter months Opening from May to December typically if weather holds up you can ride the tracks everyday. No Gym Memberships required. Although donations can be made to Philly PumpTracks of course.
With the local support from The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia, PPTC, The Community board Parkside Evans, Local and City Government, Hundreds of Volunteers and monetary contributions from riders and families the pumptracks have been doing there job…
Cities are starting to understand the impact that cycling does for their Community. In more ways, just giving cyclists a designated route and a bike share program doesn’t bring families out together to play.. Working with City ECD, and City Planners finding under utilized city owned land and reclaiming to create a place such as the Philly PumpTracks its giving cycling families new and old a home. Its giving them a place to nurture, to own, and to feel proud of as a culture and a family.