by Maureen Wilson
My favourite spot in Hamilton is neither our waterfront nor the lush trails of the escarpment. It’s a bike pump track tucked away in the southwest corner of Gage Park. The track is an experiment of inclusion and could serve as a model for other public investments and how we plan our city.
Here’s why the pump track is so great:
Getting it off the ground was a valuable lesson in democracy for the youth who championed their vision through the hoops of community consultation, city hall bureaucracy, and elected officials.
It remains a training ground in democracy, as the young cyclists must (with little parental interference) sort out the rules of play. They learn that the track won’t work if they all don’t work together. It is a place of compromise and community. It is a place to form relationships.
It’s outside and it gets kids moving. At a time when childhood diabetes and obesity rates are soaring, riding the pump track is a great form of exercise that also helps build confidence.
It unites a group of kids who are becoming increasingly divided. The pump track draws youth from both sides of Main Street who might never come into contact with one another because our city has become segregated by income.
But here’s the most crucial reason, the one that likely will have the most impact on riders’ future lives: the track is principle put into practice. It is an integrated, inclusive space, a working example of an idea often discussed but rarely implemented.
There’s a lot more to this! Interested in reading the whole story? Get your copy of The Point coming in June.
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