Cyclists pumped about Bijou Bike Park


By Kathryn Reed

Cycling enthusiasts aren’t waiting for South Lake Tahoe officials to figure out how and when to put in a bike park at Bijou Community Park. The mound of dirt sitting there is already a feature of sorts. But that’s not exactly why it’s there.

The 400-cubic-yards of dirt came from the Harrison Avenue project. It will be moved – possibly this summer – to another location in the park to construct what will be a 5-acre bike park with two pump tracks and a BMX track in the center.

Bike parks attract all ages and ability levels. For those new to the sport or not quite ready for some of the gnarly trails the banks and features at the park are a way to speed up the learning process. They are also where cyclists might end their day after riding the trails.

These types of parks are growing in popularity and help lure tourists to an area. Mountain bikers, like other athletes, are willing to spend good money on their sport.

Outdoor Foundation did a study in 2010 that all cyclists annually contribute $133 billion to the U.S. economy. Of that, $46.9 billion is spent on expenses related to cycling trips.

Bijou Bike Park may be built this year. Rendering/Provided

Bijou Bike Park may be built this year. Rendering/Design Workshop

It is possible South Lake Tahoe will have such a park by the end of the summer.

The bike park has been talked about since 2011. The nonprofit Bijou Bike Park Association was formed to be the main force behind the project. The group has come up with a design, more than half of the needed money to build it, a professional builder and a ton of enthusiasm.

Twenty-two people spoke at the March 3 City Council meeting – all in favor of the park. About that many also wrote letters of support.

However, a couple hiccups have arisen that are preventing the park from being a done deal.

Originally, BBPA and the city were going to enter a lease agreement. Because of the cost of liability insurance and needing to acquire coverage per Tahoe Regional Planning Agency rules, it is now going to be a city run bike park with BBPA providing assistance with construction and maintenance.

TRPA claims the city is putting in 32,000 square feet of new coverage – even though it’s dirt. Coverage regulations are something the bi-state regulatory agency came up with as a way to deal with erosion issues. The city could borrow from its bank of coverage or come up with the more than $60,000 for the mitigation fee – which is paid to TRPA. Staff is leaning toward the latter so the banked coverage could be used for a commercial project such as renovating the recreation center.

It’s also possible the coverage the school district is using for the current BMX track could be transferred to the city.

Taking out a permit will trigger the immediate requirement to bring the restrooms up to the Americans with Disability Act specifications. While this was on the city’s to-do list, it wasn’t slated for this construction season. That cost is estimated at $25,000.

At Tuesday’s meeting the city was told in addition to the $100,000 already pledged to the bike park, another $86,241 is needed in cash and about $35,000 in in-kind services that would include staff time for planning and moving the dirt. The total project is estimated to be $511,000.

Some trees will need to be removed. Irrigation will be put in to dampen the course so dust is not an issue. An electrical conduit will be established so in the future lights could be installed. Bleachers are possible down the road. (The disc golf area will not be affected.)

BBPA has been talking with Lake Tahoe Community College to possibly use its parking lots when events are staged at the park.

The BMX track pays LTUSD 20 percent of gross revenues, so some sort of contract would be devised between that group and the city. Last year the BMX group hosted an event that brought 300 competitors to the area. This year a different event is expected to draw 500 to 600 riders.

Lake Tahoe Unified School District wants to use its land where the current BMX track is for a ball field at South Tahoe Middle School so that facility needs to move. The new BMX track would be 900 feet; 100 feet longer than the current one.

Still to be worked out are the legal issues regarding volunteers working on city property and liability issues for the city if someone is hurt. Garrett Villanueva, trails specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, explained to the council how the feds have an arrangement so volunteers are covered under their workers’ comp insurance.

Councilmembers Austin Sass and Tom Davis (who was absent because of an illness) make up the city’s recreation implementation subcommittee. They will meet next week with BBPA and city recreation commission members to iron out some details, while the city attorney works on legal ramifications.



• Bijou Bike Park Association has a website with information, a way for people to make donations and to get involved.


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Comments (14)
  1. Big BC says - Posted: March 5, 2015

    cant wait for lil jackson goldstones to start comin out of the SLT

  2. Ryan Payne says - Posted: March 5, 2015

    This is great news for our community and Bijou Park is the perfect place for it!
    For the $500k, my first thought was ‘why not do a KICKSTARTER campaign?’
    Who knows? Might get more than necessary and have the chance to build the facility Tahoe deserves and not have to do it on the cheap like the skate park…(ouch, I know)
    The truth hurts, but recreation projects like these have returns that are incalculable in dollars. They are outlets for our youth and active adults, attract tourists and more events, and diversify our local economy. Seems like a half-million and a little political dance over coverage is a very small price to pay.
    Great job to all involved in making this a reality!

  3. copper says - Posted: March 5, 2015

    Mitigation fee: another term for a bribe?

    Or am I confusing it with extortion?

  4. Isee says - Posted: March 5, 2015

    Only in Tahoe. Only in Tahoe could moving dirt around for a bike track, cost $60,000.00- in a mitigation fee. TRPA needs to be shamed into dropping this ridiculous milking of a recreational opportunity for the community. Joanne M.– you take credit for everything, where are you on this one?

  5. LeanForward says - Posted: March 5, 2015

    Great news!

  6. reza says - Posted: March 5, 2015

    I was impressed with how this new council and city staff worked so well and quickly in moving this project from possibly going no where due to legal/technical and funding issues to a lets get it done position.

  7. Dave says - Posted: March 5, 2015

    Well… Say goodbye to a large section of the already existing disc golf course.

  8. Ben Fish says - Posted: March 5, 2015

    The bike park does not impact the existing disc golf course.
    The estimate of over $500K includes typical costs of design, meetings, coordination, costs of dirt, labor, etc. The cost savings doesn’t come from cutting corners, but comes from having professional services donated to a project we all believe in. Personally I have put in hundreds of “free” hours over the last 4 years pushing this project forward in meetings, permitting and creating the above design plan for the park. This is a project of passion the community has demanded, I’d love to talk to anyone interested in getting involved or has questions. This project has been public for 4 years now.

  9. Buck says - Posted: March 5, 2015

    TRPA 10% off the top that IS extortion. We should mitigate them, just say no like Nevada does.

  10. reloman says - Posted: March 5, 2015

    The 89k is for the needed coverage, which if the city uses its banked coverage there would be no out old pocket expenses. I am wondering if anyone has spoken to the concervancy to see if they have any excess coverage that can be transfeered to this project. Maybe the city can negociate with Placer county to keep the coverage on the motel that they purchased stays here, much like what was done for c & M that became bonanza park. Or maybe some resident who has excess coverage can donate it, I am sure that would be a tax deduction for them.

  11. Steve buttling says - Posted: March 5, 2015

    a great project that is much needed ,
    Moving dirt around and changing topography should be a no brainer, with no fees , after all it’s landscaping is it not .
    The city showed that it was incapable of operating the ice rink , so what’s the difference with a bike park ??
    I think the ice rink should be in the hands of the city and run as any other business, to make money !
    Well good luck to all concerned .

  12. Can't believe says - Posted: March 5, 2015

    I like the bike park idea. Although I’m not sure the city or CTC are being forthright with their coverage bank. The drive in property was traded to city then sold on the public market before they sold it, coverage was banked. When the city built the ice arena the coverage came from drive in, but the drive in was never re-veg’d. So really it’s been used twice. As well where does the city have that much excess coverage? If so where did it come from. The lot next to tribune of which was the traded parcel for the drive in didn’t have any coverage on it? Maybe a good story idea. Is the public sector above the rules that private sector is held to? Something is not right

  13. dumbfounded says - Posted: March 6, 2015

    How much in mitigation fees has the USFS paid for their “coverage” for all the hiking and biking trails in the Tahoe Basin? Has Vail paid for all their “coverage” on the ski runs? Although I am a voice in the wilderness, it seems to me to be absurd to spend over $ 500,000 for such a narrowly focused activity when the Recreation Center needs attention. The population of the City is around 20,000 and a projected 300-600 riders for one event justifies this kind of project and cost?

  14. Marc says - Posted: March 6, 2015

    Thanks ben