Proposed Grand Loop bike park in Grand Rapids gears up to add Richmond Park trails

The proposed Grand Loop bike park in Grand Rapids could get more traction soon when park proponents meet at Richmond Park to review trail possibilities and estimate costs.

The Grand Loop would use a series of existing off-street and on-street urban bike trails to connect a number of Grand Rapids parks in each quadrant of the city, where pump tracks and natural mountain bike trails would be developed or enhanced. Parks under consideration are: Grand Rapids Bike Park, Ken-O-Sha Park, Richmond Park, Ball Perkins Park and some unused cemetery property near Alger and Kalamazoo streets SE.

The Grand Rapids parks and recreation department, the West Michigan Mountain Bike Association (WMMBA) and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks have been working on the concept for a couple of years, says Jay Steffen, director of Grand Rapids parks and recreation.

Ken-O-Sha Park saw some trail work last fall, and in the next couple of weeks, Steffen and others will walk the Richmond Park trails to determine what work needs to be done and approximate costs before applying for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Passport Grant, Steffen says.

"We'd like to work with the WMMBA to make some of the trails more formalized," Steffen says. "When I say that, I mean there have been trails blazed in wooded areas that probably shouldn't be in those locations because of environmental issues. We'll work with the group to develop areas where there won't be so much environmental damage."

Steffen says the concept of connectivity was a key theme in the Green Grand Rapids Master Plan and the Five Year Parks and Recreation Master Plan completed about two years ago.

"Many of the on-road facilities also correspond with The Rapid's stops, so they are very much interconnected," Steffen says. "I believe Grand Loop is one of those quality of life amenities that has the ability to attract and retain people in Grand Rapids. Once it's completed, it will provide new, better and safer biking facilities for the biking community. It doesn't just accommodate the on-street bikes or off-road bikes; it's a good mix of both."

If the DNR grant is approved, Steffen says work could begin on the Richmond Park trails in spring 2013.

Clear here for an interactive map of West Michigan bike trails.

Source: Jay Steffen, Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Director
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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