Save the Wheeling (Dundee) Dirt Jumps
Save the Wheeling (Dundee) Dirt Jumps
This petition is regarding the Dundee Jumps in Wheeling Illinois. These jumps have an oasis and escape from reality for many generations of kids dating back to the 1990s. Recently these jumps have been threatened to be destroyed. This is most likely from people taking dirt bikes and motorized vehicles on the DPRT and riding past these jumps leaving tire tracks and causing noise and a disturbance to the natural environment. The jumps were partially bulldozed during the spring of 2021 but were all repairable easily.
On May 12th four boys were approached by a police officer while riding the jumps with a threat of being detained and their bikes being kept as evidence. The police officer goes on to explain the reasoning for these jumps potentially being torn down. The first example he gave was that there were people bringing trucks into the preserve. This is untrue because the tire marks in the dirt were either from bicycles or motorized vehicles such as dirt bikes and ATVs. These things are commonly brought in and ridden on the DPRT illegally. The cop goes on to say there could be homeless people living in the woods and,” We could get raped and left for dead.”. There is a possibility of this everywhere that you go and while the probability of it may happen is slim to none. In all the years of spending time at these jumps, the bicycle riders have never seen any homeless population in the woods of Wheeling, Illinois.
These jumps here in Wheeling have been an oasis and escape from reality for many kids and teenagers to come and enjoy nature and ride their bicycles. This applies to not only experienced riders but kids of any age. Bike riders that have spent many hours at the jumps can tell you that they have seen kids as young as 4 years old with their parents coming and rolling the jumps on their little 14 inch bicycles. All the parents have shown full approval and have even offered to tip the boys for working on the jumps (none of the tips were ever accepted). Random members of the community walking past always showed approval and even offered help to the bike riders. From personal experience, the jumps seem to be supported by the overall audience attending the Potawatomi Woods in Wheeling, Illinois.
These jumps are a phenomenal introduction for kids interested in riding bmx, mountain bikes, and jumping. The wheeling jump spot provides jumps of all sizes from beginner to advanced and difficult lines. Studies have shown that mountain biking can reduce stress and improve mental health (mind.org). These are very important issues in our current time with many stressful things going on all over the world including the ongoing pandemic. There are also studies published by the CDC recommending that adolescents get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day and adults get at least 150 minutes a week. Those necessities could easily be fulfilled with a public jump park. Many kids find interest in pushing themselves in new areas of life and riding bmx or mtb could be one of the activities to fulfill the necessary amounts of physical activity. Bmx biking has many proven health benefits such as boosting weight loss, improving heart health, building muscle, improving balance and coordination (bmx time). Biking can also have other benefits outside of physical activity, this could be a gateway for kids and adults alike to make new friendships and connections. Studies have also shown that having a park nearby. The study conducted by Tania M. Schusler of Loyola University Chicago shows that for every 10 percent increase in park acreage there is a 6.7 percent decrease in burglaries. Another study conducted by the NRPA showed that kids who live close to a park have a lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes and other diseases, as well as have a more active brain. An active brain in children can lead to improved performance in school.
The Dundee jumps have been confirmed to have been a prominent part of the North Shore Bmx and Mtb scene since the late ’90s. Below I will have videos and photos hyperlinked to the jumps dating as far back as 2006 (confirmed with photographs). These jumps are said to be older than that by many individuals throughout the bmx and mtb community you meet around the Chicagoland area. Destroying such a landmark to a community would be a devastating and tragic event and would break the hearts of hundreds of people.
The forest preserve's plan to destroy the jumps is to bring a bulldozer into the woods and push all the dirt, making the land once again flat. This seems like an ok idea on paper but you must consider the many plants, vegetation, and wildlife you are either endangered or destroying by bringing a bulldozer through the tight trail on the woods leading to the jumps. This damage alone is much more than some kids on bikes and a shovel could ever do to the environment. The bulldozer is not only endangering native plant species, vegetation, and wildlife but also creating pollution and releasing it into the air. This seems counterintuitive to the FPCC’s mission of bringing nature and forests for people in Cook County to enjoy. The average bulldozer consumes about 20 gallons of fuel per hour with a medium power output according to Vladislav Kecojevic of West Virginia University, which is about something it would need to get into the jump park and then run down all the jumps. Considering these numbers and that study the bulldozer would produce around 183 ± 18 of CO2 per hour along with around 1.93 ± 0.20 NO per hour as well as 0.079 ± 0.004 HC and 0.83 ± 0.32 CO per hour (tandfonline). The whole process of tearing down the jumps seems hypocritical on the part of the FPCC, cost-ineffective as well as damaging to the environment.
The land the jumps are on is perfect for the location of a new jump park as it is located about 1300 feet from the parking lot and out of the way for others attempting to go on a walk or participate in any other activity that is permitted by the FPCC. The land the jumps are built on is also very unusual compared to any other forest preserve you may witness. There are many concrete blocks in random places along with other debris such as bricks, tires, and fencing, most likely left there from the previous owners of the land. The DPRT was completed in 2015 and it is safe to assume that the land the jumps are located on was acquired sometime in the 1990s due to the history of the jumps as previously mentioned.
There is a need for such a jump park on the North Shore as there are not many other options for local kids. The other closest jump park like this is the garden located on Rockwell and Addison in Chicago Illinois. This place is over 20 miles away from the Wheeling jumps and wouldn’t be reasonably accessible for kids in the Northern Suburbs with a desire to jump on their bicycle while spending time in nature. There are few other places like this in Illinois the only ones within driving range are Big Marsh, The Garden, and Andres bike park, which are all legal parks but far away for kids wanting to have somewhere to bike to jump.
I went to Palos Mountain Bike trails, which are legal mountain bike trails located in Willow Springs Illinois to interview users of the legal trail system, authorized by the FPCC, about their personal experiences and how the sport has improved their lives. I got lots of interest and answers but promised the people interviewed I wouldn’t use their full names and only provide one letter and their gender. One man, I interviewed who we can call T said,” Mountain biking is the best outdoor cardio workout and you can have fun while enjoying mother nature.” This supports the jumps as well because the jumping can still be cardio and you are experiencing nature while doing it. A woman by the name of C said,” Confidence is one-way mtb has improved my life. Getting over fears because you avoid crashes easier by going a bit faster over obstacles. It makes you aware that sometimes you must power through things.” Another man by the name of J said,”70 percent of my friends are through riding mtb. This sport has built my whole social life.” The mental and social benefits of riding mtb are observed in the 2 quotes above and it shows how people's lives can be improved. Another man by the name of B stated that,”My health was positively impacted. My asthma has diminished and my cardiovascular strength is significantly better.” A different man by the name of J said,” I lost 30+ lbs with bike riding and diet.” This is a major advantage of biking and can help kids and even young adults develop good and healthy habits while enjoying the trails and jumps. Many of the answers I got were very similar and based upon weight loss and exercise as well as enjoying nature the 2 final answers that stood out to me were, one said by a man named J,”I don’t drink anywhere near as much anymore because I’ll miss out on bikes in the morning,” this one stood out to me because someone was able to use bike riding and nature to overcome bad habits and addiction and the final answer that stood out to me was said by another man named J,”In chicago, a good trail breaks the segregation and gets riders together to celebrate what is cherished: free time, good health, fast bikes and dry tread.” The last answer stood out to me because it made me think about how a sport can break barriers and bring people together, which is an important part of life.
My plan for the trail system is to get permission to maintain the jumps without destroying trees, wildlife, and vegetation while maintaining a safe and clean environment. We would have a garbage system (which we had in 2020) where we would take time to clean our garbage and the other pieces of trash littered around the area. We would bring garbage bags and recycle whatever is possible to do so with. Another plan I believe is necessary for the trail is markers presenting the difficulty of each jump line along with a sign that says something along the lines of “Ride at your own risk” rendering the FPCC irresponsible for any bicycle damage and injuries that could occur at the jumps.
The goal of making this petition is to show the Forest Preserves of Cook County the support of the public for making these 20+ year old jumps finally legal and accessible to the public. The sources used for this research are cited below. The videos and photos will be linked below as well.
“(PDF) Impact of Bulldozer's Engine Load Factor on Fuel Consumption, CO2 Emission and Cost.” ResearchGate, www.researchgate.net/publication/261059403_Impact_of_Bulldozer%27s_Engine_Load_Factor_on_Fuel_Consumption_CO2_Emission_and_Cost
authors, All, et al. “Real-Time Emissions from Construction Equipment Compared with Model Predictions.” Taylor & Francis, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10962247.2014.978485
Fraser, Natalie. “This Is How Mountain Biking Can Improve Your Mental Fitness.” Red Bull, Red Bull, 30 May 2020, www.redbull.com/us-en/7-ways-riding-mtb-can-help-mental-fitness
“Healthy Places.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/healthtopics/parks.htm
“Research Note: Examining the Association between Tree Canopy, Parks and Crime in Chicago.” Researchgate, www.researchgate.net/publication/318771547_Research_note_Examining_the_association_between_tree_canopy_parks_and_crime_in_Chicago
Solans, Martin. “12 Health Benefits Of Riding BMX.” BMX Time, BMX Time, 10 Dec. 2020, bmxtime.com/12-health-benefits-of-riding-bmx/.
“Parks and Healthy Kids: Fact Sheets: Parks and Health: National Recreation and Park Association.” National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), www.nrpa.org/our-work/Three-Pillars/health-wellness/ParksandHealth/fact-sheets/parks-healthy-kids/