Working With Professional Bike Park Builders

The content of this web resource has been excerpted from “Construction,” Chapter 6 of Bike Parks: IMBA’s Guide to New School Trails

While volunteer-led projects have created extensive amounts of singletrack trails, the scale and scope of bike parks usually call for professional construction services. Most bike park and flow trail projects require massive amounts of materials—while it is possible to build a substantial pumptrack or jump line with just buckets and shovels, hiring a contractor will save a lot of time and effort by allowing skilled operators to put mechanized equipment to use.

Another advantage to contracting a professional bike park builder is that land managers and agency-based risk managers may fear any number of legal problems and budget concerns that could arise during the construction phase. Working with an insured contractor or consultant will go a long way toward insulating both local bike organizations and their agency partners from risk. Contractors are typically required to hold the kind of substantial insurance, such as general liability policies, that few volunteer groups can afford.

Bike park projects also often require professional engineering related to site prep, grading, environmental compliance, and infrastructure installations. Often this work is divided between a construction contractor who handles site work and a bike park specialist charged with building bike-specific features. This approach is typically used when a new park (with parking, bathrooms, and other traditional elements) is being built at the same time as the bike features; if the bike elements are being added to an existing park, there may not be a need for a traditional contractor.

That is not to say, however, that there is no place for volunteers in a bike park or flow trail construction effort. Although professional operators guiding heavy machinery may do the heavy lifting, there will also be plenty of finishing work that is best done by hand. Including volunteers helps build and maintain a sense of community involvement, and allows local riders to help create the finished product. Coordinating volunteer efforts with the professional builders’ schedule can be a challenging task—make sure that volunteer workdays are an asset, not a disruption, to the construction schedule.

Establishing A Construction Contract

There are three broad classes of contracts with professional design and construction firms:

  • A contract based on hourly fees and the cost of materials, often referred to as a “Time and Materials” arrangement.
  • A contract that incorporates both designing and building the project in an integrated fashion by a single firm, known as a “Design-Build” approach.
  • A contract that requires a design phase and a build phase, with the possibility that separate firms could be assigned to either phase—often referred to as a “Design-Bid-Build” arrangement. In some cases, the contract may stipulate that the design firm can not serve as the construction firm.

A deeper look at these three contract formats reveals advantages and disadvantages to each. (See Bike Parks: IMBA’s Guide to New School Trails for more info.)

The suggestions offered in this and other IMBA trailbuilding articles do not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Trailbuilders and landowners are responsible for the safety of their own trails and facilities. Freeriding and dirt jumping are high-risk activities that can result in serious injuries. IMBA’s goal is to help land managers and volunteers manage these risks by sharing information.