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LaunchPad bike park opens to the public

“We’re already seeing large numbers of kids out, which is great, that’s why we built that project, and we expect to get into the hundreds of riders a day as we had last summer very quickly.”

COCHRANE— The Bike Cochrane Society’s LaunchPad bike park officially opened to the public on Monday (April 26).

“We finished the last of our maintenance upgrades on Monday,” said Paul Perrault, operations manager with the Bike Cochrane Society. “We got the winter fence taken down and cleaned up some of the entryways so it’s a little more safe and we don’t have any vehicles coming through there.”

Previously, Perrault said, the park was too wet to open. When a flow park is wet bikers can cause damage and erosion to the dirt berms in the park.

Since its opening the park has already seen a very high volume of users.

“We’re already seeing large numbers of kids out, which is great, that’s why we built that project, and we expect to get into the hundreds of riders a day as we had last summer very quickly,” he said.

Bike Cochrane received more than $100,000 in donations which went into building and maintaining the LaunchPad, as well as other projects the organization is pursuing. Given the extensive investment, both monetary and in terms of volunteer hours put into the LaunchPad, Perrault said it is encouraging to see the volume of use the park has seen.

“We’re obviously really, really proud of the work that Bike Cochrane has done to get that project to where it is. It’s such a valued community asset. I think we’re also heartened by the reception that it’s received and we do see a lot of the other examples around southern Alberta, and around Canada, where communities have gotten together to build that type of community asset. We’re very excited by the volunteer that we’ve received in terms of having extra help to get that project ready,” he said.

Although the opening of the park was slightly delayed due to the moisture on the track, Perrault said, parks of a comparable nature are on a similar timeline this year.

“That’s a very similar problem to what our colleagues at Cochrane BMX and any other dirt track face,” he said. “It simply takes time for us to get it to a stage that’s ready for the public to be using. We appreciate the public’s support in staying off the track when it’s wet and that continues all throughout the summer.”

Perrault said Bike Cochrane will be placing signs up indicating when the park is closed throughout the season, but for the public to be aware that if they are accumulating mud on their tires or shoes, that is a good sign that they should not be using the park, as additional maintenance and replacement of the soil and clay substrate may be required.

Bike Cochrane is involved in many cycling-based initiatives all throughout the community and in the surrounding area.

The organizations various initiatives fit into three steams— Community engagement, active transportation and trail building and maintenance.

In Cochrane, the society is engaged in working with the Town to determine ways they can encourage active transportation and safer routes for bike commuters, including youth who cycle to and from school.

Bike Cochrane will be conducting an Active Summer Traffic Study, monitoring traffic at various locations in town, hoping to build a dataset that will help the Town determine where bike-related infrastructure is most needed.

“The expectation there is that we will be able to use that information in a better way to help the Town do both planning, as well as medium and long-range capital budget planning, so as we look at the large amount of infrastructure— That if we’ve been under been under investing in active transportation, we can help the Town make the decision on where to spend their limited resources that has the most benefit for the number of people who want to be using it,” he said.

As an extension of that program, Bike Cochrane also hopes to work with the schools in the area to give students a better sense of how to determine their safest route to and from school if they chose to commute by bicycle.

Bike Cochrane is a completely volunteer-driven non-profit society and is always looking for extra help as they pursue various projects in the community.

To find out how you can get involved, visit bikecochrane.com/.