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Manufacturing outrage over Vancouver's new bicycle pumps
Way back in 1993, a joint B.C. government-Metro Vancouver study called Transport 2021 declared that there was a $2.7-billion subsidy in the region for drivers.
Here's my defence of the city's decision to install the bicycle pumps. Many cyclists have traditionally filled up their tires at gas stations. However, there aren't nearly as many of them in the northern part of the city and particularly downtown, mainly because they've being replaced by real-estate developments. The remaining stations gouge cyclists with a 50-cent fee every time they use their pumps.
The city and motorists benefit when more people ride bikes, because it frees up roadspace for the movement of goods and services. So a $6,000 expenditure on two durable, high-quality bicycle pumps along well-travelled cycling routes is not a big deal. Especially when compared to the massive subsidies provided to the relatively wealthy community of automobile users.
Vancouver is also well-positioned to profit from the growing popularity of bicycle-related tourism. Having a welcoming environment, including free cycling pumps, could be something other cities don't offer.
Perhaps it's time for the Province editorial board to get over Vancouver's minor free-air subsidy to cyclists. Unlike middle-class and upper-middle-class journalists, lots of cyclists can't afford to buy cars. There's nothing inherently wrong with diverting a few tax dollars toward cycling to make their ride go more smoothly, especially when they're contributing to a cleaner environment.
Sounds like a great idea, and a typically progressive Vancouver thing to do.
It would also be nice if gas stations would reverse this cheap new trend of charging for air. It should be provided as a public service and a thank-you to customers for their patronage. Now that the one station in our little town started charging ($1) for air, I will, when I have the choice, use the station out of town, which doesn't.
If it's any consolation, I noticed a few stations in Winnipeg in the last couple of years introduce coin-op air pumps. They lasted I think six months before they switched back to free air.
It's not just for the environment. Maintaining roads, with their constant repair and upkeep, is a big city expenditure. The more bikes you have as opposed to cars, the more money you save on wear and tear of roads. There are potentially huge savings to be made by encouraging bicycles in whatever way possible. $6,000 is nothing. A pittance in budget terms, and if it actually decreases the number of cars on the road, then it will save ten times that amount in future roadwork. This is good policy even from a perspective of straight dollars and cents.
Now bicycle repair stations are going to be set up with tethered equipment. Fantastic!