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11:53 PM Fri, Nov. 16th

Bicyclists and parents meet with park commissioners to ask for place to ride

Michael Meisch, 15, likes doing jump tricks on his bicycle, but he isn't allowed on some city sidewalks, and it is illegal to ride bicycles at the city of Kingman skate park.

"I don't think it is fair at all," Meisch said Monday.

"My friends at the skate park don't care if we ride our bikes with them.

We watch out for each other."

Riding a bicycle at the skate park, a cement park designed specifically for skateboarders, has become a risky endeavor in more ways than one.

"It is unsafe for bicyclists to ride in the park for several reasons," said Cpl.

Tracie McKnight of the Kingman Police Department.

"Rocks get stuck in the wheels of the bike and get carried on to the cement.

If skateboarders hit the rocks it could cause an accident.

Bicycles also damage the cement."

Bicyclists also risk a verbal or written warning to stay away from the park for a certain period of time, or a misdemeanor citation and fine of $50 to $250.

McKnight said 45 warnings have been issued to bicyclists who tried to use the skate park since January 2001.

Meisch, a ninth-grader at Kingman Academy of Learning, said two of his friends have received tickets for trespassing at the skate park, but they don't know where else to practice their bike jumps.

"There is nowhere to ride.

We get kicked out everywhere," he said.

"It is hard to find places to do 'grinds' " — a type of bike trick.

Armed with a petition signed by 80 people, Don Towell, the father of bicyclist Dominic Towell, 15, met with the Kingman Parks and Recreation Commission to discuss a solution to the problem last month.

The petition asked that bicyclists be allowed to share the skate park, but Towell was told that sharing the skate park was not a viable solution to the problem.

Towell and others at the meeting also listened to an update from a commissioner who had compiled information as to the viability of a dirt BMX bicycle park in Kingman.

However, that idea was also deemed unacceptable.

"There are a couple of misunderstandings going around the community," said Kingman Parks and Recreation Director Darel Fruhwirth.

"We had a group doing some work.

They just wanted a place kids can do some trick riding."

But Fruhwirth said the group attending the meeting didn't realize that a BMX park is not cement, but a dirt park that requires constant maintenance.

"A freestyle (cement) park similar to a skate park is what they want, but the skate park is designed for skates, not bicycles," he said.

"That is why they can't be given permission to ride out there.

There are liability concerns."

Fruhwirth said the 12,000-foot skate park, located at the northeast corner of Firefighters Memorial Park, was built at a cost $220,000 to the city and a new bicycle park could cost well over $200,000.

"We are asking the group to find examples of other bike parks," Fruhwirth said.

"We also need to see public support to spend that kind of money.

Before the park and recreation commissioners consider anything they want to get all the pertinent information about building and maintenance of these parks."

He said he expects the group to provide the information at the next commission meeting March 20.

Towell said he is gathering the necessary information.

"I think in is very unfair that these teens have nowhere to go.

I hear there is a liability factor to be in the "pit," yet the kids using the skateboard are not required to wear safety gear, such as helmets."

According to Towell, who said he has been in the construction business for 20 years, the solution to the problem could be to build an addition to the skate park for both skaters and bicyclists.

"There are designers who have designed parks that can be used by both skaters and bicyclists," he said.

"It would be cost-efficient, with no maintenance."

"There are so few places kids can ride their bikes other than the street, and that isn't safe, said Linda Meisch, Michael's mother.

"They need a cement park where the kids can do bicycle tricks without the danger of being hit by a car or being kicked off someone's private property.

It is important for kids to have a place to meet."

She added that with more families moving to Kingman, a bicycle park for boys and girls is needed.

Meisch, the mother of five children, said she once designed a place for kids to ride, complete with dirt ramps, in a lot she owned.

"All the kids in the neighborhood used it for two years," she said.

"But now someone is living there."

Yvonne Wright, who signed the petition, said her kids are grown but she can empathize with the problem.

"I live by the golf course.

I see kids riding around the neighborhood on the city streets," she said.

"It would be safer if they had a place to go.

Especially pre-teens."