Bainbridge park district earns honors for efforts to expand mountain biking opportunities

The Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District was recently recognized by the Washington Recreation & Park Association for outstanding innovative programming.

Park district staff from the Outdoor Adventure Program attended WRPA’s annual conference in SeaTac earlier this month to accept the Spotlight Award for Program Excellence, which recognized the achievements of the park district’s Youth Mountain Biking Initiative.

The Youth Mountain Biking Initiative involved a simple but strategic plan: “To get more kids outdoors mountain biking.”

Within that mission, a five-year goal was set to get a thousand kids mountain biking on local and regional trails. The strategic plan had three key parts: identify and systematically reduce barriers; acquire equipment to run a variety of mountain bike programs; and establish a programming framework to provide summer camps, technical clinics, afterschool programs, overnight trips, multiday expeditions, and other exciting mountain biking trips for youth to participate in.

District officials said the Youth Mountain Biking Initiative has been highly successful. It has developed into a long-term, self-sustaining program that operates nine months out of the year and has put 500 kids out on the trails annually (for an average of 9,000 participation hours).

And since the creation of the initiative, more than 50,000 participation hours have been logged by youth in the park district’s mountain bike programs.

Bainbridge parks officials also note that 2,400 kids have participated since the implementation of the strategic plan, and the numbers are only growing. Youth mountain bikers now have numerous opportunities to engage in recreational as well as competitive mountain biking, give back to the community via volunteering with trail building and trail maintenance, as well as work as paid staff for summer mountain biking camps, mentoring the next generation of youth riders.