Be Free & Find Your Way
There are a few small spots and obstacles for training parkour scattered throughout Wageningen. These spots and obstacles allow practicing single techniques, but only a few combinations and no flow. This means that creativity is restricted, too.
Most of the spots are not suited for everyone. If they are, the possibilities for people with different experiences, desires, and ages are usually a few hundred meters apart. Therefore, it may feel like training alone, rather than together. Training alone can feel awkward. This feeling may withhold people from training and with that from getting fitter, more confident, healthier and the many other benefits of parkour. It makes it difficult for the many inspired children to get into parkour safely, too. They can not copy ideas or join a session where they could get tips and guidance.
Another issue is that most of the few better spots can be considered private property as they are, for instance, entrances to flats, supermarkets, and so forth. This means that passers-by, customers, etc. often interrupt focused and efficient training sessions, sometimes not allowing for training at all. Moreover, discussions about training at the spot can arise.
Last but not least, it is not possible to practice several techniques, such as tic-tac, lache, double kong, etc, in Wageningen.
A well-designed park allows people of all ages to improve their motoric skills, fitness, prevent injuries, and so forth. Parkour parks offer not only many possibilities for traceurs and traceuses to train in a relatively small space. The more extensive the park is, the more people can use it. Practitioners of other sports can use it too. People may train pull-ups, balance, calisthenics, and so forth outdoors. For children, it is a playground where they can be very creative. They can, for instance, climb, play hide-and-seek, the floor is lava, and tag; improving their cognitive and motor skills. Passers-by and parents may get inspired to explore, play, and move. By doing so, they get active, fitter, and healthier.
A parkour park will develop into a social hub that stimulates a flourishing and healthy city. It will bring people together and increase their social bond, too. Ideas will be exchanged, new once created, creativity stimulated and mutual understanding improved.
Last, but not least, a parkour park makes it easier for people of any age to get into parkour, too. Not only can they find experienced traceurs and traceuses who will provide tips and advice. Training in a park with like-minded people feels more comfortable than practicing alone in public, where others may wonder what one is doing.
When looking for a location for a parkour park, it has to be examined which environments already offer possibilities and/or space for constructing a parkour park. It is important to look at versatility, too. This includes suitability for different groups and possibilities for training. With this in mind, the five investigated locations are the old business area near the Hoogvliet, the old school between the Buurtseweg and Gravinnestraat, ‘Park Noordwest’, ‘Kirpestein’ next to Albert Heijn, and the ‘Wageningse Berg’.
‘Kirpestein’ is central, making it a very interesting location. Because of its visible location at the Lawickse Allee, I expect it to inspire people to move and that the joy of the traceurs will spread throughout Wageningen. As the site has been laying fallow since 2004 and the owner has declined all offers so far, it is unlikely that a park can be realized at this location.
The old school between the Buurtseweg and Gravinnestraat is relatively central, too. At this location, it might be possible to realize a sheltered set up in the former school building next to an outdoor park. This would allow for more training possibilities by rain. A disadvantage is that the location is hidden and may give the impression of a private facility. Therefore, it will inspire fewer people and be less visited. Another disadvantage is the limited space available.
Another relative central location is the demolished business area at the Costerweg in the Nude. Located next to the Hoogvliet, I expect many people to use it and get inspired. As it is less eye-catching than ‘Kirpestein’, it will probably be less compared to that location. However, the former business area offers more space, allowing for a more extensive parkour park.
A possible fourth location is the ‘Wageningse Berg’. The forest floor, unevenness, slope, and vegetation would cause a design, training opportunities, and conditions that differ significantly from a park with only man-made structures on flat ground. A park in a forest requires a lot of maintenance and the man-made structures would be difficult to install without harming the vegetation. Enhancing the forest with boulders and tree trunks might be a better option. As this location is very remote, it is questionable if many people will visit it and get inspired.
The last but not least location to investigate is ‘Park Noordwest’. At this location, it is possible to realize a small natural section and a parkour park made of man-made structures. A combination with a skatepark is possible, too. This makes ‘Park Noordwest’ the most versatile location. Regarding visibility, inspiring people, and centrality, it might be equal to or just behind the former business area. Therefore, ‘Park Noordwest’ appears to be the best location.
Every year, the municipality offers €20.000 to sponsor the realization of open-air sports projects. Examples are the Skating Bridge, mini-artificial pitch, and the trike trail. More information about the subsidy is available on the website of Wageningen. According to Paul-Peter Lindner from the municipality, approximately €10.000 are still available this year. That is not enough for the realization of a parkour park. Therefore, the project has to be co-financed.
According to Sportservice Wageningen, a parkour park can be created under the denominator of a playground. In that case, the higher subsidy for a playground project can be used. Using this subsidy may have consequences for the requirements that the parkour park must meet.
I contacted Paul-Peter Lindner of the Strategy and Policy Department by e-mail about the possibilities for constructing a parkour park in Wageningen. Unfortunately, it turned out that he is absent until August 10.
In the e-mail, I referred to a clip from the opening JAM at Tensta in Stockholm as an example. In addition, I explained how a parkour park can be used by people regardless of age, experience, ability, or background. I asked about subsidy options, too.
The chances of Wageningen getting a parkour park are good!
Today was the meeting with Paul-Peter Lindner. It was a great success. He showed enthusiasm for a parkour park in Wageningen. During the meeting, he mentioned that Sportservice Wageningen is busy with Freerunning. Because of this, he suggested a collaboration with Sportservice Wageningen and that I create a plan for a parkour park.
Before I could sent Nicolette Piscaer of Sportservice Wageningen a message, she let me know to have had a call with Paul-Peter Lindner and suggested a meeting. I agreed and let her know that I am working on the realization of a parkour park. I am waiting to hear back from Nicolette Piscaer about the meeting.
The day after meeting Paul-Peter Lindner, I got a message from Nicolette Piscaer asking if I can use tree trunks for the parkour park. This can be a great addition to a park with walls and pipes, especially when placed in a forest.
Besides the fact that the tree trunks can be a possible addition, I explained, in my response, what my plan is for the parkour park. Among other things, I mentioned that the park should be diverse and suitable for all ages. For more information, I referred to the page about the parkour park in Wageningen.
I am in contact with Freerun park designer Onur Eren. Among other things, he designed the first freerun park in Rotterdam in the Sportplaza Zuiderpark. We are looking into the possibility of realizing a parkour park with a subsidy of €10,000 and how it can meet the safety requirements of the municipality. Onur Eren wants to come to Wageningen for this shortly.
A week after Nicolette Piscaer suggested a meeting, I have not heard from the Sportservice Wageningen back about it. Today, I finally got a message from Rinske Bakker of Sportservice Wageningen, informing me that Nicolette Piscaer has sent me a message today to make an appointment. However, no message arrived. The next day, I send Nicolette Piscaer and Rinske Bakker of Sportservice Wageningen an e-mail to arrange a meeting. After a brief email exchange, we scheduled a meeting for September 14th.
The same day, I received a reply from JUMP Freerun. In the reply, they mention having a lot of experience in designing and producing Parkour setups, indoors in particular. The designs they made for outdoors are difficult to place yourself. For this, they work together with various suppliers. The advantage of this is that suppliers can already consider the requirements set in safety. They mention the option of placing it oneself as well. As an example, JUMP Freerun mentioned one could order concrete blocks and scaffolding constructions. These are then placed in the right way. There are a lot of possibilities. However, this complicates safety compliance, but during the design and installation, the surface and fall heights/distances can already be considered. It is also important not to label the park as a playground. There are many quality requirements that one probably can never meet.
Compared are the options of creating a new park, upgrading a place and creating an obstacle run. Locations considered for a parkour park are ‘Park Noordwest’, a old school, the "Wageningse berg", and the former business park near the Hoogvliet. Possible areas for upgrades are the playgrounds Schaepmanstraat and "Klein openbaar speeltuintje" at the Bernhardstraat as well as the Hooilandplein in "Noordwest".
The outcome of the exploration is that the creation of a parkour park in ‘Park Noordwest’ is the best option. At this location, the most versatile park is possible, which can be used by the most divergent groups. As a result, this park will stimulate exploring, mutual understanding, fitness and more. Among others, it is suited for traceurs & traceuses (all levels and focuses), kids, slack-liners, skaters, pole dancers, survival runners, elderly, spectators and many more.
1. Trees (Slack-lining, Climbing)
2. Wall with different heights (up to about shoulder height)
3. Slide (of wood, stone, iron or grass; also for sled)
4. Main Park
a) Scaffolding (Can be connected with slack-lines to trees)
b) Walls (transition to slide)
c) Walls with and without scaffolding (fences on single walls, bars between walls, etc)
5. Nature park with tree trunks (creative movement)
6. Low part (For beginners and creative movement)
a) tubing (children jump & skate) and some low walls with iron corners of up to 1 m height (precision jumps)
b) cubes, stakes (possibility to include half pipe in park)
c) rails for precision jumps, skating, balance (about 10 cm high)
7. skating, practicing balance, palm and wall spins
During the conversation, it turned out that Nicolette Piscaer is in contact with Elske Oost of the municipality of Wageningen, who is responsible for the playgrounds in Wageningen.Because of this and the amount of the subsidy, Nicolette Piscaer and Rinske Bakker want to use the subsidy for the playgrounds to realize a freerun park. In addition, the subsidy available through Paul-Peter Lindner is for a citizens' initiative. This means to use this subsidy it is necessary to demonstrate affinity for a freerun/parkour park first.
We agreed to work together on the realization of a parkour park in Wageningen. Next Thursday, Nicolette Piscaer will present my idea of a parkour park and my questions at a meeting about the outdoor location at the Nobelweg. After this, she will communicate the outcome to me. Rinske Bakker added that the answer from the municipality often takes a long time. It is therefore not expected that follow-up steps can be taken within a week.
During the meeting, it was also mentioned that Sportservice Wageningen is helping Cyriel Gerrits of Infinity Freerun to set up a pilot for regulair lessons. He comes from outside Wageningen and will mainly focus on lessons for children.
Today I received a message from Nicolette Piscaer that the realization of a park in Park Noord-West is still pending, but there is a “nice design” for the playground at the Nobelweg. The designer shell has had contact with several Freerunners for this so that it matches with what they would like. The construction shell start this year so the park will be completed in spring. Upon inquiry, I received a drawing, showing the park on the left.
The design appears to be a scaffolding construction surrounded by walls. It is not clear whether the lines between the walls are pipes or stairs. In addition, it is not possible to see whether the scaffolding construction contains tubes of different heights for vaults, balance, pullups, etc.
I immediately discussed the design with a few other traceurs and traceuses in and around Wageningen. I also looked at the design with Onur Eren. Even so, the drawing is not very clear, many points for improvement emerged. During the discussion, it also turned out that the designers did not approach any traceurs from Wageningen. This explains why the park design does not match the local needs.
Because of the outer placement of the walls, their orientation, and interaction, the traces (lines of movement) are very limited. Possible is a circle along the outside, from the inside to the outside, and from the outside to the inside. Diagonal traces and traces with changes in direction are almost impossible. Therefore, the expectation is that some jumps, but little flow can be practiced and that creativity is not stimulated. As a result, the park adds little to Wageningen.
An advantage is that more techniques can be trained at a short distance. It might be possible to practice some short combinations, tic-tacs, and laches (bar swings) that cannot be practiced elsewhere in Wageningen.
Placing more walls in the middle and combining the bars with the walls will increase the possibilities and value drastically. It is also possible to place the scaffolding construction and the walls next to each other.
Another point of attention is that a sloping surface appears to be missing, such as found, for example, at the park at the Gerlev Sports Academy. At the moment, there is a single sloped surface in Wageningen near the play castle at the Bernhardstraat. However, it can only be used either alone or in combination with an underbar. The sloping area at the park at the Gerlev Sports Academy not only offers many possibilities in itself but the possibilities are further expanded by the wall next to it.
On November 15, I emailed Nicolette Piscaer the questions, criticisms, and suggestions with some examples. In the mail, I also asked to get in touch with the designer so that the design can be adjusted. In addition, I sent Paul-Peter Lindner an update as he wanted to stay informed of the development.
Today, a day later, Nicolette Piscaer informed me that experts designed the park and that the design is final. (She is convinced that it will be a magnificent park.) That same evening, Paul-Peter Lindner informed Nicolette Piscaer to find it strange that users were not involved and he wants to call her. Will it be possible to improve the design?
As Nicolette Piscaer was absent, Rinske Bakker informed me around 4.30 pm that the last resident's evening about the park will take place tonight from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm. She also mentioned that she is still waiting to hear from the person responsible for the design whether I can join this evening so that I can provide any input. I went to the meeting without hearing from her.
During the meeting, it turned out that a “helper of Cyriel Gerrits” was the expert who designed the park. They allowed for two minor adjustments. The allowed adjustments were adding one wall and moving another 30cm.
The construction of the park has started. Striking is the use of large stones with a size of 160 x 80 x 80 cm. This means that the walls are currently at least twice as thick as by other parkour/freerunning parks.
The lowest walls in the park are about 1 m high and 80 cm thick. That means that children and (beginning) adults cannot practice many basic vaults. Think of vaults such as lazy vault, kong vault, speed vault, dancer vault, turn vault, and many more. As a result, practicing flow and being creative is impossible. There is no possibility of practicing gate vaults, kotyska, tic-tac vaults, and so forth either. To a limited extent, it is possible to practice precisions. A plus is the possibility to practice tic-tacs and small laches. Of course, it is possible to practice wall runs and flips from different heights. In addition, flips over a gap are possible. That’s about it.