Vancouver’s New Public Bike Pumps Spark Outrage

Public Bike Pump at Science WorldSome elements of Vancouver’s media stirred the pot last week over, of all things, two public bike pumps. The pumps were recently installed at Hawks Ave. and Union St. (on the Adanac bike route) and at Science World, near the convergence of the Seaside, Adanac, Ontario, and Central Valley Greenway bike routes. The pumps fit both Schrader and Presta valve types, and have been builIt to resist the elements. It’s been reported that the two pumps cost a total of $6,000.

CBC first reported on these pumps in early March. You can listen to Margaret Gallagher’s High Velocity report here.

However, it wasn’t until last week when Scout Magazine and then the Vancouver Courier ran a story that things started heating up. Both The Province’s editorial board and CTV went trolling, and Yahoo! Canada News piled on for good measure. The Province ran an anonymous editorial that was nothing short of an anti-cycling diatribe and then CTV devoted 3 minutes at the top of their 5pm newscast to outrage over this expenditure (with article and comments here). They also ran a web poll:

BC CTV web poll 2013-03-15

Side note: The Province requires Facebook login to comment on their editorials, CTV allows anonymous comments. Comparing and contrasting the difference and level of civility in the comments is left as an exercise to the reader, but let me say that people are much less likely to run their mouths when they actually have to put their name to it.

Twitter was pretty much agog at the level of outrage these two media outlets were trying to drum up. View the story “Vancouver Public Bike Pumps” on Storify

First, Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation pointed out The Province’s 155-word tirade against the pumps.

Then CTV picked up on the story, highlighted the “European” pump angle, and ran the web-poll.

Response on Twitter was swift:

On Sunday, however, The Vancouver Sun wrote a much-less negative story about the pumps.


The outrage is, of course, ridiculous.

The $6,000 cost is nothing compared to … well, pretty much anything associated with road or park improvements. The total budget of improving the Strathcona Linear Park was reported to be $200,000. $3,000 for purchasing and installing a bike pump amounts to 1.5% of the budget. Where’s the outrage over the remaining 98.5% of the budget? What do you think the “public” response would be over the gardening budget or the paving budget of that project? I suspect that, in general, “the public” has no idea how expensive public works are.

Does CTV report the installation costs of water fountains in parks? What about drinking fountains for dogs?

How much do you think that cost?

These facts are known: increasing cycling in a city positively affects public health and reduces traffic congestion. This in turn results in positive contributions to the local economy. The City of Vancouver has recognized this for years; both the former NPA council and the current Vision council have made statements indicating that it’s a priority for the city to increase cycling in Vancouver. Increasing cycling amenities, like putting in public bike pumps, repair stations, better bike parking facilities, better bicycle access on transit, etc., increases the amount of cycling in the city.

The outrage should be that it’s taken until 2013 for two public bike pumps to be installed in the city.

Public bike amenities, like public washrooms, and yes, even drinking water fountains for dogs, are part of what make a city liveable and sustainable. They contribute to the greater good of the city. It’s a shame that so many people cannot see beyond themselves.

14 Responses to “Vancouver’s New Public Bike Pumps Spark Outrage”

  1. Jason says:

    I wish I could nail down a number on the amount of tax breaks and bailouts the auto industry in this country has received over the last decade. Not an easy number to conjure up, I suppose the government doesn’t want that kind of info readily known.

  2. Sarah B says:

    Somebody somewhere else posted an infographic:

    Cars: $6,600,000*
    Biikes: $6000

    *Source: http://bc.transport2000.ca/learning/background/transport_2021/cost_report.html

  3. ex-kitsie says:

    Putting aside the cost of the pumps, yesterday I went to see for myself what the city had received for the money. The one in front of the Science World, while still operational, has already had the switch (lever?) on the nozzle end of the hose broken in half. There is nowhere to hook the hose onto the pump itself so it just swings into the stainless steel body of the thing, probably resulting in the switch/lever breaking. Seems like a poor design.

  4. Kitsilano biker says:

    Vancouver has spent much than $6000 for biking since 2008. All the new bike lanes cost millions. Most expensive one is on Hornby and dunsmuir. Lots of lost parking revenue.

    Bike pumps are a good idea.

  5. Norah says:

    $6000 grand is not very much in terms of infrastructure. I’m in support of any and all improvements to cycling in Vancouver. More cyclists mean less cars on the street (less traffic), a healthier population and a happier environment.

  6. Jason says:

    From CBC, Jan 4, 2013: “Prime Minister Stephen Harper was at the Ford Motor Co. plant in Oakville, Ont. today to announce the renewal of a fund to stimulate research and innovation in Canada’s automotive industry…The government says its original outlay stimulated some $1.6 billion in innovative projects across the industry…The announcement Friday commits another $250 million to the fund over five more years.”

    Yup, that oh-so-innovative auto industry.

  7. Gaylin says:

    I think there should be much more financial outrage towards things like a $100,000 ceramic poodle . . . A porcelain poodle, just what Main Street needed.

  8. Bill Barilko says:

    Gas stations provide cyclists air for free and many are open 24/7.

    Why spend money for stand alone pumps that are subject to vandalism-as I saw @ Science World just today.

  9. kitsgirl says:

    Actually Bill, most gas stations now charge for air, so if you dont have exact change = no air for you and now your walking your bike with a flat tire. Bike pumps are a good idea, its to bad there’s no such thing as a vandal proof one. All the retarded idiots out there with nothing better to do……..

  10. Bill Barilko says:

    As a professional driver I know that most gas stations charge Motorists for air-but never cyclists.

    Please don’t post nonsense-you know full well that any gas station in the city will start the pump when asked by a cyclist.

    Also there’s a reason people carry a Fare Saver ticket in their wallet-so if their bicycle is somehow incapacitated they aren’t faced with a long walk or expensive cab ride home.

    You’re Welcome.

  11. West Second says:

    Bicycles with schrader valves can use gas station pumps. These pumps will not work for bike tires with presta valves (many road bike models) without an adapter.

    The city pumps cater to both types. But so do most hand pumps.

  12. Carlos says:

    $3,000 for a bike pump? Are you crazy? And only two for the entire city? Is this the city’s best strategy to encourage people to bike? How about dedicated bike lanes like in The Netherlands, Denmark or Germany? Oh no, too many driver’s wouldn’t vote for you again next term, huh? If you want to talk about bike pumps, our AWESOME neighborhood bike shops lend them for free in Kits. Cheers!

  13. realitycheck says:

    ENOUGH “war on the car” catering to cyclists…a group that IS NOT licensed (you could be a drunk banned from driving type who drops $200 at Canadian Tire and now is STILL a drunken hazard on the road…or more likely doesn’t know/care about the rules of the road – no checks and balances), does NOT pay insurance, and tends to blithely and gleefully breaks laws (helmets, lights/reflectors at night, riding on sidewalks, ignoring red lights/stop sign and being total angry *ssholes when someone calls them on their dangerous stunting). Add to the fact that latest figures say bike riding downtown is DOWN 1% (to a meager 2% of the total population) this year over last year (despite the more than $4 million spent on bike infrastructure, which slows down traffic, causing MORE greenhouse gasses). ENOUGH Mayor Moonbeam. You were elected to take care of EVERYONE, not just the militant jackass cyclists.

  14. Keep Driving says:

    Every time a moronic cyclist is hit by a car, destroying their designer carbon fiber tricycle and/or injuring them so they can no longer be a dangerous road hazard, an Angel gets his wings!!!