Wednesday morning, Cleveland City Council will consider building a $2 million dirt bike track over in Kinsman — at Marion Motley park, a stone's throw from the Opportunity Corridor! — to provide a safe, legal venue for the city's hordes of urban wheelie kings.
Mayor Frank Jackson is committed to the cause. He's evidently been evangelized by his grandson Frank Q. Jackson, who was arrested two weeks ago while riding a dirt bike on city streets, and in whom the Mayor recognizes a deep and almost religious affection for dirt-biking.
Jackson argues, in fact, that dirt-biking represents a common ground among feuding inner city groups. Teens and grown men gather to break bread and pay homage to the grease and engine roar, to practice stunts, to traverse the east side in fearsome pirate bands.
Why not corral that energy, Jackson submits (after having reached out to dirt-bikers for the past two years with the city's community relations defensive end, Blaine Griffin) and give them a high-quality track that would represent the first of its kind in inner-city America (so Jackson thinks). He envisions mechanical instruction there as well.
Johnnie Burton, a dirt-biker and dirt-bike mechanic at the Ohio Technical College, has evidently already been enlisted for such work. He told Cleveland.com that one of the aims of a track would be to entice talented riders off the streets with opportunities for sponsorships to ride in competitions — sounds a lot like The Land,no?
But the culture of dirt-biking isn't going anywhere. In fact, it's becoming increasingly legit, and Jackson's $2 million mission, though fueled in part by family ties, is also a concession to reality and a pro-active step that ought to be welcomed by the police, who've struggled with enforcement.
This Saturday, (the same day as the #PrideintheCLE event), the muni lot will host the #bikelife Culture Festival, billed as the "First Annual," where dirt-bike vendors, dirt-bike stunt riders, and assorted #bikelife personalities will assemble. Tix are $20.
Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...