Supervisor Avalos Would Like to See Public Bike Pump Stations in SF

If you pedaled around the city yesterday for Bike to Work Day you were no doubt happy to see the SFBC’s energizer stations — with fresh coffee and bagels — and the occasional sidewalk bike mechanic ready to align your spokes or pump a little air in your tires. But back to reality today. How many times have you forgotten your pump, pedaled somewhere where there’s no air around, and been left in a lurch? It’s happened more than once to Supervisor John Avalos, who tells Streetsblog San Francisco he’s asked the MTA to look into installing a number of bike pump stations around the city, similar to those that exist in some European and Asian countries:

I am very interested in having the pump stations installed and will be working with the MTA to move forward on them. I
believe cyclists have an enormous interest in the stations.

I can’t
tell you how many times I have been in need of a little air while being
in parts of SF without a pump nearby. The stations will also help to
encourage greater cycle amenities throughout the city, encouraging
greater bicycle use.

Avalos became even more interested in the idea after a constituent, Adam Burgess, wrote to him, relaying his flat tire experience at Ellis and Franklin on his way to Golden Gate Park:

In that area there are no gas stations and thus no air pumps.  The closest gas station was at Pine and Franklin, but I was not ready to walk my bicycle up that hill.  So, I walked my bike to Divisadero and Fell (the direction I should be headed) where an air pump cost me 75 cents.

Burgess, in his letter to the Board of Supervisors, explained that he got used to public bike bumps while living in Japan:

I lived in Yokohama for a year before moving to SF, a "sister city" of SF, according to wikipedia.org.  There is a large amount of bicycle commuters in Yokohama and Tokyo, Japan and they do provide public air pumps.  Thus, I am comparing my last residency with my current home.

Some of the bike pump stations could also double as bike racks.  Avalos said he’s been told by the MTA they’re pretty busy working on the the much-anticipated implementation of the Bike Plan, but he’s been assured bike staffers will look into it after the bike injunction is lifted. 

"This is one of those creative policy ideas we will consider for the future," said MTA spokesperson Judson True. "Right now our focus is on completing the EIR and preparing to implement the Bike Plan."

What do you think? Would you like to see bike pump stations around the city?

bike_lock_pump_1.jpgA bike pump station in the Netherlands. Photo: Geekologie.com
40797425_90ca5b6112.jpgAn inflation station in Stockholm. Flickr photo: jvoss

  • This is an excellent and much needed idea. I especially like the idea of pumps being incorporated into bike racks. The only public bike pump that I know of in SF is in front of Southern Exposure on 14th Street: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondawinter/2469259927/

  • Jason F

    First off – you shouldn’t be using gas station air pumps for your bicycle. They are designed for high volume tyres of cars, not your bike.

    Also, if you are biking around the city (or anywhere), you should know how to fix a flat, carry the correct tools and parts. Part of biking. You don’t run out of gas in a car then complain that there isn’t a gas station right there, do you? Probably not the best analogy, but it’s pretty much the same thing.

    I would vote against this and would rather put the money into safer streets for cyclists.

  • I like the idea of public pumps and would encourage building owners to install them where it makes sense. For example, perhaps one at Mint Plaza by that nice bike rack?

  • But also echoing what Jason F says, part of the joy of biking is a flat tire or other mechanical problem isn’t the end of the world. Even if you can’t air it up, or fix it, you can just hop off and walk, either all the way to your destination or to the nearest Muni bus stop.

  • peter chu

    I feel downtown SF needs some form of safe secure bike parking. The high risk of bike theft in this area is a significant deterrent to bike use in the area. As a job and retail center, and with improving bike lanes/pavement quality, safe secure parking is a missing bike infrastructure piece.

  • Nick

    This doesn’t necesarily have to be government mandated. Quite a few bike shops leave a floor pump locked up outside next to their bike racks as a public service. A few phone calls to shop owners could have all of them doing this overnight.

    As a practical issue, you can always ask a passing cyclist if you could borrow their pump for a minute.

  • Rachael

    Honestly, it would be neat. But … there is so many more transit related projects (for cyclists and bus riders and pedestrians!) that diverting attention to this seems silly. The MTA is going to be tight (in manpower and money) no matter how the budget situation goes. And really the issue of a flat even if you don’t have a pump is pretty trivial: just walk or get on the bus. The city isn’t that big really.

    Perhaps if they chose the special bike rack with pump when installing some of the new bike racks (which hopefully they will be able to do soon!) But it really shouldn’t be anything to spend much energy on. There are bigger fish to fry.

  • peter chu

    I believe Roaring Mouse on Irving and SF Cyclery on Stanyan both have floor pumps available outside the shop. Roaring Mouse’s pump is chained to a bike rack and available afterhours by reaching through the gate. SF Cyclery had a similar setup, but I’m not certain about afterhours availability.

    Similar to “guerilla gardening”, you could lock a bike pump outside for public use.

  • marcos

    One is left but to wonder why previous bicycle plans were not allowed to include such innovative suggestions as proposed by Supervisor Avalos.

    Unless you’re me, of course, and saw the MTA and SFBC take proactive steps to limit public participation in the crafting of the policy document of the plan.

    Nobody is yet talking about Bike Planning 2.0, what went wrong with the previous Bike Plan process and how to make it better.

    It is up to the Bicycle Advisory Committee to ensure that there is a public process in place that can keep staff’s worst inclinations in check, and prevent a private corporation from dominating the content of the bicycle plan by dominating the process.

    -marc

  • This is at best a distraction. I can carry a pump, I can’t carry a bike rack (and there were NONE on West Portal Ave when I went there for dinner last night).

    Anyone have info on the goings on at the Public Hearing on Bike Lanes?

  • marcos

    P.S. I hate everything.

    -marc

  • DaveO

    This is a fine idea. But why wait for the government to get involved? You could easily work out arrangements with property owners along well-travelled bike routes and also work with bike shop owners or bicycle sporting goods manufactors to drum up sponsorship in exchange for advertising on the handles.

  • I think that flat maintenance is everyone’s personal responsibility (see fig a: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vsgoliath/3258923812/) However, public bike pumps, especially when coupled with new racks, would go a long way towards visibility and promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation.

  • marcos

    And the band played on.

    -marc

  • Adam B

    Yo Jason F. Riding a bike with a back pack on or saddle bags Mad Max style just to haul a bike pump and fix-a-flat sucks! Riding a bike pack-less, with out a care in the world similar to when you were 10 years old is the best. Don’t hate, motivate!

  • Peter Smith

    seriously, though, what’s wrong with you haters? it’s a good idea. jump on board.

    i’m the most negative person in the world, but damn…hating on bike pumps made available so people can, you know, use them — that’s something to be hated on?

    shoot. we’re not talking about BRT, here. say, “Yes. Please. Thank you.” and move on. it’s not rocket science.

  • bmtea

    As a resident of District 11 (Avalos’ district) and a bike enthusiast, I think this is a cute idea, but I’d like the BOS to tackle real issues. Avalos’ district is a traffic nightmare, in many ways more so than downtown. Cars, cars, cars everywhere, cars in the streets, cars at the curb, cars on the sidewalk and nobody seemingly has the balls to do something about it.

  • Ian

    Pumps/bike racks around the city would be brilliant. That being said, carry a mini pump, patch kit, mini tool kit and tire lever…problem solved.

  • I know we aren’t supposed to use this blog for commercial purposes, but I was reading through this posting and think this is pertinent to the conversation string; we (Dero) do make a bike rack pump add-on and a Fixit Kiosk that are made right here in USA. The Fixit incorporates a repair stand, has some basic bike tools and an air pump. The Air-kit allows you to turn any-old bike rack into an air-pump station. You can view it at http://www.dero.com/products/fixit/ and http://www.dero.com/products/air-kit/

  • MBrandt

    In the EU the ICE rail goes thru backyards without fences, no problems..

    Perhaps we can get public pumps going.. I would encourage more private pumps.. let’s see how they do. But if we are going with public monies let’s build things like pumps around public racks and safe places for the investment.

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