Pima County, Ariz. – Four years ago, 14-year-old Kory Laos was riding his bike on Speedway Boulevard near the University of Arizona and was killed when one motorist turned in front of him and another hit him.
On Saturday, Oct. 22, Pima County’s biggest BMX park – named for Kory – is having its grand opening at Flowing Wells District Park, 5510 N. Shannon Road.
The grand opening of the Kory Laos Memorial Freestyle BMX Park is at 8 a.m. and will include BMX and mountain bike demonstrations, bike repair and free helmets for kids.
Kory, who was a student at Tortolita Middle School, was riding with friends when he was hit on May 4, 2007. One SUV turned in front of him, its rear fender snagging him. A second SUV hit him. His friends and his family – dad Scott, mom Lynn and brother Kyle – have been working since his death to raise funds and make the park a reality.
“It started as a way for my wife and my older boy and me to grieve,” Scott Laos said. But then they realized it was “not just about my little boy.”
“It’s about our whole community.”
They all want a safe place – away from cars – where kids can ride. A place that gets them off the streets and outdoors, away from TV screens and video games. An alternative to boredom and getting in trouble.
“If I accomplish any one of those, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do,” Laos said.
Their efforts are documented on http://korylaos.com.
“We raised about $10,000 on our own,” Scott Laos said. “And we just received a grant from the Tohono O’odham Nation for $8,000 more.”
Pima County donated eight acres for the park. It is dirt now – a special dirt that keeps dust down and prevents erosion – graded and shaped, with two tracks.
Helmets are required. Riders can be cited if they are caught without them.
The county has no liability, Laos said. It’s ride at your own risk. Signage is up. As many as 50 riders at one time – of all ages – have tried it out.
The park is not finished. A concrete and steel bowl with halfpipes, tabletops and other features is on a list of Pima County bond projects that will go to voters at a still-undetermined date.
“I’m optimistic about that,” Laos said. “I’m a patient man. I’ll do what I can to give children a safe place to ride.”
Laos said the park is in “a perfect spot,” on the south bank of the Rillito River Park with its pedestrian and bicycle paths. Riders can use the car-free paths to get there from as far away as North Craycroft Road to the east or West Silverlake Road to the south now that the Santa Cruz and Rillito river park paths are connected.
The BMX park’s grand opening coincides with the Oct. 22 Launch The Loop event, celebrating the connection of the Rillito and Santa Cruz river park paths. Launch The Loop registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at Flowing Wells District Park.
When completed, The Loop will be 55 miles of car-free paths around metropolitan Tucson, connecting the Rillito and Santa Cruz river parks with greenways along the Julian Wash and Harrison Road, and Pantano River Park. For more information, go to www.pima.gov/TheLoop.