January 13, 2014

Fort Worth leaders unhappy that rider went to the extreme on bridge

City officials said they’re studying ways to reinforce that message after a professional BMX stunt rider rode his bicycle over the bridge’s arches Saturday afternoon.

City officials say they’re studying ways to discourage people from using the West Seventh Street bridge for unintended purposes in light of a stunt cyclist riding over the bridge’s arches Saturday afternoon.

“It is a beautiful and safe structure when used properly and for its intended purpose,” Bill Begley, a city spokesman, said in a emailed statement Monday afternoon. “That said, we discourage residents to participate in risky behaviors like that of the BMX rider this weekend.”

Professional BMX stunt rider Mat Olson told the Star-Telegram that he had contemplated the stunt since the bridge was being constructed and thought it would help get his name in the public.

“You can turn anything into an obstacle with a little bit of an imagination,” said Olson, who performs with a professional stunt team at events like the Texas State Fair.

Begley emphasized that the bridge should not be used as a prop for stunts.

“The arches of the bridge were not designed for that purpose, and climbing, walking or riding a bicycle or skateboard on them is a dangerous endeavor,” Begley said. “We are studying ways to reinforce that message, but in the meantime we encourage residents to use and enjoy the new structure safely and in the method it was designed and built for.”

Fellow riders and friends assisted Olson by placing plywood supports in between the arches, and a professional film crew was on hand to record the feat. Travis Baker, a Fort Worth man who had been riding his bike when he saw a small crowd and stopped to investigate, recorded the stunt on his cellphone, which he shared with the Star-Telegram.

That video has since gone viral, and more than 60,000 people had viewed it on the Star-Telegram’s YouTube account as of 4 p.m. Monday.

While the stunt has apparently garnered Olson the attention he craved, not everyone was pleased.

Olson said Fort Worth police were waiting for him at the end of the bridge as he finished. He said he was given a warning by the officers.

Begley said general traffic laws apply to bicyclists unless specifically exempted.

For example, he said, the Texas Transportation Code requires a bike rider to generally ride as near as practicable to the edge of the roadway.

“The edge of the roadway doesn’t include the arch support of the roadway,” Begley said. “But police officers have discretion to write or not write tickets, and these officers chose to not write a ticket.”

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