SAN MARCOS — Bradley Park in San Marcos will soon be home to the region’s newest bike park following years of advocacy from local bike groups and residents.
The 8-acre bike park will include a pump track, perimeter trail and jump lines for beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels. The site is slated for the vacant southwest corner of Bradley Park, where the city’s Fourth of July fireworks show has historically been held.
Currently, residents have to go south to San Diego’s Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park, Greg Cox Park in Chula Vista or Sweetwater Bike Park in Bonita to access skills parks with the same level of amenities.
The San Marcos City Council approved plans for the project last month, and construction is set to begin in the coming weeks, said Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation Andrea Gonzalez. The city worked with local developers to obtain around 14,000 cubic yards of donated dirt for the park rather than having it imported.
City spokesperson Tess Sangster told The Coast News the park is expected to be completed by summer 2024.
The local clamor for a bike park hit a flash point in 2019 when San Marcos community members protested the city’s removal of a bike jump line constructed by local youth on a protected open space. At a subsequent public meeting with over 100 attendees, residents communicated the need for a local bike park.
This kicked off fundraising efforts by San Marcos Parks and Recreation staff as well as the nonprofit Friends of San Marcos Parks and Recreation.
The $1.1 million project is supported by $800,000 from the city’s General Fund, along with around $236,000 in grants from the Friends, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors’ Neighborhood Reinvestment Grant, and the state Parks and Recreation Proposition 68 Per Capita Program.
“We are so excited about this opportunity for our community,” the Friends of San Marcos Parks and Recreation said in a social media post in late September. “We were able to contribute $140,000 toward the construction of this new bike park, and can’t wait to see it bringing joy to all who use it in the future!”
A huge proponent of the project has been the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, which advocates for bike recreation opportunities throughout the region as well as conservation and maintenance at bike trails.
Executive Director Susie Murphy explained that bike parks give jurisdictions a lot of bang for their buck, as they are cheaper to construct than other kinds of parks and are open to riders of all experience levels.
“We believe that bike parks are a great way for people of all ages, but kids particularly, to ride safely,” Murphy said. “I think probably over the past decade, bike parks have been seen as a newer, novel amenity that cities can build at sites that aren’t amenable to other kinds of parks.”
Bradley Park is an ideal spot for the park due to its central location, which can be reached by car or bike, Murphy said. There are also limitations to how the vacant land can be used since it is the site of a former landfill.
“It’s been vacant for decades and decades,” Murphy said. “All we’re doing is bringing in soil and building it up.”
Mayor Rebecca Jones said the city’s fireworks show will still be able to take place at the park next summer, even with the construction of the bike park.
Plans are currently in the works for two other bike-skills parks in North County. The city of Carlsbad is planning to begin construction next spring for a bike park with a pump track, jump lines, and flow trails at Veterans Memorial Park.
The city of Escondido has also approved funding for a bike park at Jesmond Dene Park that will be named for the late city council member John Masson, who passed away in 2020. Escondido officials have not shared a timeline for the park’s construction.
CORRECTION: The article has been corrected regarding the park’s expected opening. Initially, a city spokesperson incorrectly stated the park would open by the new year. However, the city has since issued a statement saying the park isn’t expected to be complete until the summer of 2024.