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Nation’s first ever dirt bike park coming to Baltimore City

After a year of campaigning, a Baltimore City nonprofit has won $3 million in federal funds for a permanent dirt bike park and education center inside city limits.

Democratic U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with Maryland’s Secretary of Juvenile Services, Vincent Schiraldi, joined Brittany Young, founder of B360, in the announcement on Friday.

“These are very, very competitive funds,” U.S. Sen. Cardin pointed out, prompting the room to explode in applause. “This will give you the capacity to really reach out and meet the children where they are, and help them with their career development.”

Since 2017, B360 has used dirt bike culture to teach youth about STEM. The group has also decreased Baltimore’s dirt bike-related arrests by 81%, employed 36 former street riders, and increased career readiness, Young said.

Young, who tearfully accepted the check, said the funds will go towards hiring full time staff at B360 and constructing the dirt bike park.

“Imagine a space where you can ride indoors,” Young said. “A space you can ride outdoors, have a commercial kitchen, classrooms and also bring that home grown talent front and center, right here in Baltimore.”

For 16-year-old Tristan Tremble, B360 has become more than an afterschool program where he has learned how to ride and operate dirt bikes.

“A lot of people don’t know what this means to us,” Tremble said. “We have a family, but here I have a home.”

Maryland Secretary Schiraldi praised the program.

“As far as I'm concerned, the more community programs like this that exist, the fewer young people will end up in my custody,” he said. “Here, they learn science, education and math. While too often in my place, —as much as we try to make it rehabilitative and decent— they come out with a street rep that solidifies their delinquent self-concept.”

“Bikes may look simple, but these are complicated machines,” said U.S. Sen. Van Hollen, who later took an electric dirt bike for a spin.

“When you learn about the bike,” he continued. “You're learning about mechanics, you're learning about design, you're learning about 3D printing, you're learning about physics. It is a great window into learning about lots of skills that can be put to really good use in our community.”

While Young is thankful for the funding, she says she has a bigger vision. She likened the dirt bike park to skate parks and bicycle lanes which have become more common, and serve as outlets for exercise and adventure sports.

“I want to be able to offer over 250,000 jobs,” she said. “Right now, the motorsports space is a $32 billion industry, but people haven't thought about blackheads and helmets. People haven't thought about how women wear dirt bike gear, and so I want to be able to transform the industry to have more R&D, more STEM and green jobs.”

Wambui Kamau is a General Assignment Reporter for WYPR. @WkThee
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