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Fond du Lac man leads effort to allow BMX bikes at skateboard park

Police opposed to idea due to past problems

Apr. 9, 2013
 
Ryan Rochwite, who has circulated a petition to allow BMX bike riders into the Fond du Lac skatepark, sits outside the turnstile entrance designed to keep bike riders out.
Ryan Rochwite, who has circulated a petition to allow BMX bike riders into the Fond du Lac skatepark, sits outside the turnstile entrance designed to keep bike riders out. / Patrick Flood / The Reporter Media
Laurie Ritger / The Reporter Media

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A Fond du Lac man is circulating a petition that would allow BMX bikes at the Fond du Lac skatepark in Adelaide Park.

Ryan Rochwite, 22, said he believes BMX bikers can co-exist at the facility with skateboarders. He is proposing a “trial period” for the summer. His petition has 540 signatures.

“We are asking for a chance to prove to the community that we can share the facility without conflict and make the park a good, clean environment for everybody,” he said in a letter to the city’s Advisory Park Board.

A fence and turnstile entrance were installed at the park last fall to keep bikes out of the skatepark along North Hickory Street. Previously, those caught on bikes at the skatepark received citations from police.

Steve Klein, assistant chief of the Fond du Lac Police Department, said police are opposed to bikes at the skatepark.

“The skatepark was developed out of a grassroots effort by skateboard enthusiasts,” he said. “They got support from the city, the community and businesses to raise funds to build the skateboard park.”

Rochwite said he believes all taxpayers pay to maintain the park and should be allowed to use it. He said the BMX community is willing to raise money to maintain the skatepark.

Prior conflict

Klein said BMX bikes with metal foot pedals and foot pegs have damaged the concrete “bowl” of the park, but Rochwite said newer pegs are constructed of plastic and most riders don’t use pegs.

Klein is concerned about the “many” past police calls before the fence was installed to resolve conflicts between bikers and skateboarders.

“The skateboarders are not coming out on the winning end if there is a collision between bikes and skateboarders,” he said. “It has led to confrontations in the past where bike enthusiasts have gotten into physical altercations with skateboard enthusiasts.”

Last year, the city, at City Council’s direction, approved funding for the new fence and turnstile.

Rochwite said the BMX bike he rides is designed for tricks and more high-tech use than those used for racing. A dirt BMX track for racers is located across the street from the skatepark.

Other parks

Rochwite said neighboring cities in the Fox Valley allow bikes and skateboards to co-exist. He said skateparks in Neenah, Menasha, Milwaukee, Racine, Janesville and Waucousta (an indoor facility) allow BMX bikes to use facilities.

Klein said the idea of a petition could draw attention to the need for a place for BMX bike riders. He feels the BMX community, like the skateboard riders before them, should try and get support for their own facility.

Rochwite said a professional BMX tour stopped at the skatepark several years ago, providing national attention and attracting visitors to Fond du Lac. He said two pro BMX riders from Milwaukee have written letters in support of his plan for bikes in the skatepark.

Fond du Lac Public Works Director Jordan Skiff said Rochwite’s petition will be brought before council at a future meeting.

Laurie Ritger can be reached at lritger@fdlreporter.com or 907-7925.

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