Open Forum - Why are so many getting hurt at Valmont Bike Park?

Valmont Bike Park is for many different types of cyclist, this came apparent the first time I arrived there. There are some great features for kids, families and features for those who oppose gravity. Some of the park was not for me, but I'm not complaining, it is so great to see so many out on bikes, regardless of their reason for arriving. What did concern me was the apparent lack of personal risk management. It starts with the common item to point out which is lack of helmets by many but it's not just what the riders lack in wearing but how much risk riders take when so poorly prepared for failure. This is causing people in the medical community in Boulder to rename Valmont Bike Park to the "Boneyard"! I heard that in 1 day local hospitals had 5 broken arms... one day!!

I have no data on how they broke these arms, so assumptions are being made, regardless 5 came from the park and that is just a 1 day sample. I worry about the perception of danger the park will get and may hinder some from going there. Is this just a short term problem and the problem makers will go away due to injury? Does the park have features that are just too much for the general public to handle? Can anyone who has been hurt please share your experience of where and how it happened?

This is so puzzling to me because never once have I felt at risk at the great Valmont Bike Park yet I haven't tried anything greater than "Medium" size jumps, but maybe I was just lucky and I was unaware of the risk I was taking, just like all those who have been hurt. Maybe the jumps aren't the dangerous part at all, people are just getting hurt while riding around. A race (of any kind ie crit, mtb, velodrome, etc) is FAR more dangerous but the risk (if looking at data) is much lower than a day at the park, WHY IS THAT AND WHAT CAN BE DONE?

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30 Comments

Perhaps one of the reasons

Perhaps one of the reasons people are getting hurt is the fact that the park is so "mortal-friendly". When my wife and I first heard about it and went over to watch the maniacs doing tricks, we realized it was for everyone and anyone, and have started going there, along with what seems like half the boulder area.
Sheer numbers will lead to higher accident rates, and many just seem to show up and spontaneously decide to hit the park features without any prior decision to do so. My wife watched a woman and her friends show up on cruiser bikes and then take a few laps around the moderate parts. Did I mention one of those women had a toddler in a bicycle seat? Without a helmet? And she was catching air?!

Inherently Dangerous

Dirt jumping, skills riding, etc. is dangerous business. Everyone I know that races BMX, downhill, motocross, etc. has had numerous injuries. Even the top notch pros get hurt all of the time, just like even the top notch pro racers crash on the road.

The issue I have had with VBP is that there are so many people not wearing helmets. Breaking a leg is one thing, dying from cracking your skull is another. Especially when I see so many people out there on unmaintained bikes with pieces falling off as the hit the medium line. I wish there were a mandatory helmet rule there. I would hate to see the city get sued and have to close the park.

Mandatory Helmets?

I had the same reaction the first couple of times I rode there, it was shocking how many people did not have helmets on. Sure it is one thing to be riding the easy stuff on your hybrid with no helmet (still not a good idea), but the number of people riding the dirt jumps and larger lines without helmets was unreal. Of course 99% of them were young and male.......

What I would like to know is why helmet use is not mandatory? I would have to guess the City's risk management people/lawyers took a look at this and decided from a legal point of view they, the city, are better off to strongly suggest people wear helmets, but not require it? Who knows.

What do the skate parks do

Jason made a very good comment earlier comparing this to Scott Carpenter park and how they had a similar problem when they opened. So how do they manage helmets? At least VBP has dirt, they have hard concrete to hit their head on. My guess is enforcement, how and who enforces if there is a rule? Is there value in creating an non-enforceable rule?

Helmet/accident debate

My kids dirt jump and race DH on their bikes. In the DH world protective gear is now embraced. The culture of DJ is just different, but my kids and many others are showing up at the park in full face helmets and more. No one gives them a second look and they wouldn't care anyway. Risk management is what you can do. There is no such thing as risk elimination, and biking does involve injuries, even for smart riders who develop their skills progressively. BTW I am learning to ride, and there is no way to get bettet without taking risks. Most of my injuries have taken place on easier parts of a course or trail when my concentration lapses.

What is it w/ helmet

What is it w/ helmet nannies? The vast majority of bike riders around the world do not wear helmets, and yet the number of head injuries in cycling is very small. Why in the world are you so worried about whether or not someone is wearing a helmet? Besides, for all the injuries at VBP so far, how many have been head injuries vs how many broken bones? Srsly... if you have kids, do you wrap 'em in bubble wrap before you let 'em out of the house?

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