City of Vancouver installs two air pumps on bike routes

The City of Vancouver has installed two of the citys first-ever bicycle air pumps along the Union-Adanac bike route in Strathcona and in front of Science World.

The European-made pumps cost just under $3,000 each and there could be more to come on the 10th Avenue and Ontario Street bike routes as the city continues to implement improvements for cyclists.

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If we get good public feedback and people want more bike pumps, then I think [10th Avenue and Ontario] are future choices that would be good ones, said Dale Bracewell, manager of the citys active transportation department.

Bracewell said Strathcona and Science World were chosen for the pumps because of the high concentration of cyclists in those areas, as witnessed by the Courier on what was a sunny morning last Friday.

Up to 3,000 bike trips per day have been recorded along the Union-Adanac bike route on a summer day. On Friday, an electronic counter visible outside Science World had counted 602 bicycle trips over a 12-hour period.

Unlike some gas stations that charge for the use of an air pump, the city pumps are free to the public. Though the two pumps cost the same amount, they are different in design.

The one along the Union-Adanac bike route is located in the small Strathcona Linear Park, which separates Union Street from Hawks Street, near the Union Market.

From afar, the pump resembles a hard cover for a car wheel you might see on the back of an SUV. Its made of metal, bolted to the ground and clearly marked as a bike pump.

A cyclist operates the pump by pressing a foot on a stainless steel bar that pushes air through a hose that has a fitting to attach a bike tire.

Cyclist Samantha Dobo was rolling by the pump when the Courier stopped her to chat about the new addition to the park.

I think its a great idea and I would use it, said Dobo, who doesnt travel with a pump. Im not the most prepared cyclist. I use my bike to get from A to B and thankfully I have a pump at home and family who likes to take care of my bike.

The addition of the pump was a small part of a major $200,000 redesign of the mini-park. Previously, overgrown bushes lining a straight path which allowed cyclists to keep up speeds from rolling down Union Street made for a dark and dangerous intersection.

The brush has been cleared, with four large cherry blossom trees remaining and two twisting asphalt paths for cyclists added in what is now a bright and open park.

Karen Watson, with her 20 month-old daughter in a stroller, stopped by the park to take in the improvements. She welcomed the redesign and the pump.

It was always an area where you used extra caution, said Watson, who also rides a bike.

A short ride away at Science World, Aaron Joseph was using the citys other pump Friday to fill up the tires on his Electra Rat Rod cruiser.

Its a hand pump and located outside a fence done up with a map of the citys bike routes and a guide on how to fix a flat tire.

Joseph, who was preparing to ride the seawall with friends, said he noticed the pump the previous day while on his skateboard. Normally, he would take his bike to a nearby gas station but said the pump didnt always work.

Its a cool addition and a good use of tax dollars, he said, guessing the price tag was $1,500. When told it was $3,000, he said: Even with that price, Im still happy with it. Im sure a lot of people will use it.

The pump at Science World has an adapter to fit both regular and Presta valves. The pump in Strathcona does not have an adapter for Presta valves, although the city has plans to add one very soon, Bracewell added.

mhowell@vancourier.com

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