As a parent looking from the outside in the world of BMX might seem confusing; a bunch of grown men and women hanging around at skateparks, street spots and trails around the cities and the suburbs. What drives these people to do this? It's a hard question to answer but simply put passion would be the main driving factor for most BMX riders out there. The life long obsession begins early for most of us, and with balance bikes and smaller bike options getting better and better. It’s easier and more accessible for children that want to get into BMX to get a bike.
@lukey_norris blasting at Redcliffe Skatepark in Brisbane
Riding a bike has endless benefits, from fitness, mental strength, perseverance and making lifelong friendships. It all has to start somewhere, and for most parents, this means getting their little one a bike and heading down to the local skatepark. Now at this point, we’d hope that you have taught your little shredder how-to at least roll around. If you haven’t done this, turn around and go somewhere less populated with no obstacles. Your child needs to learn bike control, and the best way to do this is by spending hours on their bike. So once you have spent hours getting the “basics” down then it's time to expose your child to the skatepark. First thing first, skateparks are designed for advanced riders and skaters, this being said it's a public space and everyone is welcome. So when you arrive there might be some guys having a beer, there might be some rude words getting thrown around, hell, there might even be someone freaking out over not landing a trick. Turn a blind eye and try to distance yourself and your child from anything you don’t want him or her seeing yet.
Now you have turned up and got the bike out of the car, little 'Tommy' is off riding around and you're sitting on the sideline watching but also reading and scrolling through your phone. STOP THAT NOW. When your child is riding he/she is out there with older people that will not be looking out for them, because why would they? It's not their child. Naturally, most humans aren’t going to purposely crash into a child, but the thing with the first trip to the skatepark is neither mum dad or child knows anything about skatepark etiquette. So hears where it’s important to pay attention.
The first thing your child will feel comfortable riding will be the smaller obstacles and before that the flat bottoms. From the unassuming eye, the flat ground at the skatepark may pose as a safer area for your child, but it’s not. Even though there is no one riding there when you turned up, people will be charging around on the flat ground linking lines together as they ride or skate. So when you arrive spend 5 minutes figuring out the best spot to start having a go is and head there.
Remember that the entire skatepark is used by the more advanced riders and the one spot they don’t want people are hanging their front wheel over is the coping. For whatever reason, skatepark novices love spending time hanging around the coping and on the edges of the quarters and the banks. For guys and girls that are using these obstacles, there is nothing more annoying than having to ask 10,000 times for a child to move so he/she doesn't get hurt. Not all little kids will gauge the park and notice where people are using it, so try to help them and stay with them while they're riding.
All parents are different and how they will raise their child is up to them. The other older riders at the skatepark aren’t raising your child, so it shouldn’t be their job to look after your child at the skatepark. SKATEPARKS AREN’T DAY CARES. Remember that your child is riding at his or her own risk, and need to realise if they are hit and are in the way then that's their fault. Not the fault of the older rider who would have done everything to try and get out of the way.
Eli Norris (@eli_otto_14) sending it!
Early morning sessions can be the best way to combat the traffic at the skateparks. Getting there before the older guys turn up is sometimes a great way to get your little rider feeling comfortable at the park without getting in the way or worse getting hit. Weekends especially are a good early morning time, but remember when the older guys turn up, after working all week they will want to RIDE. Thankfully most riders won’t be at the park before 11 am so you're pretty safe until about then.
Chase Jedrzejek (@chasey_bmx) getting comfortable at Belco in the A.C.T.
Once your child has progressed to a point where they feel comfortable getting around the whole skatepark then it’s time to learn how to ride around other riders. The message remains the same, everyone is welcome but etiquette is a must. Giving way to people that are filming is another big thing parents can misunderstand. Firstly the rider isn't angry at you, or your child or the filmer or anyone else for that matter. They are frustrated they can't get the trick! Filming a clip at the skatepark can (at times) turn into a 2 hour+ mental battle and having distractions (other riders) riding around in front of you can push that rider to the limit. So do your best to be on your toes and acknowledge the hours of dedication and frustration some riders put themselves through.
Once a young rider, Alex Hiam (@alexhiam) learned skatepark etiquette at parks around Brisbane. Photo- Jerard Vandervalk
If there is anything to take away from this, it would be that;
BMX is a great lifestyle and teaches so much more than just the skill on the bike. The world of BMX can find you hanging out at the local skatepark or on the other side of the globe with some of your best friends. Being riders ourselves, this is something that all of us here at LUXBMX treasure. There is no better feeling for your child than having Mum or Dad there watching them learn and progress at the skatepark.
Hopefully, this gives the newer BMX Mums and Dads a little more of an idea before they head down to the skatepark.
Finally, before your getting started, is your little rider protected properly? Browse our selection of protective equipment, helmets and guards.