Guide to building a skatepark

Size considerations

It’s not uncommon to find a skatepark that has been built with young users in mind – i.e. the ramps and other facilities are unusually small. The reasoning behind this is that skateboarding and BMX riding are considered to be activities for young people in their early teens, or even younger. I’m sure that most professional riders would fully endorse the encouragement of younger people to take up one of these activities as a hobby – if not for the fitness benefits, then for the pleasure. But I doubt that they would endorse the exclusion of anyone who takes their hobby seriously and partakes at a sporting level.

The problem with building small facilities alone is that they are useless to older, more experienced riders. Young riders grow taller and stronger as they grow older, yet the facilities stay the same size. This is a real limitation on the usage of the facility, as it prevents riders from progressing with their skills as they get older. As a result, these facilities often go unused for long periods of time because the main users ‘grow out of’ that particular spot and either travel to ride somewhere more suitable, or give up riding altogether.

Conversely, some facilities do not actually take younger riders into consideration very much, if at all. I have been to skateparks that would have seriously intimidated me when I first started riding at the age of thirteen.

The first skatepark I ever went to was Storm skatepark in Derby. This indoor park contained a lot of large, formidable ramps – some upwards of eight feet high – but there were plenty of smaller ramps too. This allowed riders to build confidence as they gradually progressed from the smaller ramps to the larger ramps. However, the smaller ramps were not so small that they couldn’t be used by adult riders. The designers, whether intentionally or unintentionally, had incorporated a layout that catered for riders of all ages and sizes.

Remember that the broader the range of users that the skatepark caters for, the more people will actually use the skatepark. Ramps that are too small are barely useful to anyone, but ramps that are too large will deter all but the most fearless people, and increase the risk of injuries. Try to strike a balance that benefits everyone.

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