Saturday 27 October 2012

Free bike air costs $21,000

When I first heard about this story in the Daily Telegraph, I thought they must have been pulling our legs. $21,000 to install 5 bike pumps alongside a bike lane in the city? If they cost that much, my first thought was that they had installed pumps with a compressor, so you wouldn't have to do any actual pumping.

Then I read the story and saw the accompanying photos.

I can't believe it cost $4,300 to install that pump. Sure, it's a flash pump, constructed from stainless steel to avoid rusting, but it's not much different otherwise from the $100 upright pump that I have at home. All the Council had to do was buy these and then bolt them into the concrete. How on earth could that cost $21,000?

Why did they install them in the first place?

it was necessary because so many cyclists were getting flat tyres
Getting flat tyres is an unfortunate fact of life when you have pneumatic tyres. I get up to half a dozen per year on the bike, and average one every two years on the car. Since it is a fact of life, I have a spare tyre on the back of the car, plus a jack, wheel brace, gloves (because it's a filthy job), work clothes (because it is a filthy job) and a tarp (in case I have to change it in mud or snow). Whenever I go for a ride, I carry a spare tube, pump, tyre levers, disposable gloves (because it is a filthy job) and a nifty device for getting the tyre back over the rim. At home, I have a puncture repair kit and half a dozen spare tubes, because installing patches and replacing tubes is part and parcel of riding a bike.

A council spokesman said because many of the riders were new to cycling, they were being caught out without a bike pump - adding the CBD lacked service stations to pump up flat tyres.
Show me a bike shop that sells you a bike without accessories like a pump, and I'll show you a useless bike shop shortly to go out of business. The margins on accessories are pretty large - the markup between online shops and physical shops can be 100-200%. There's plenty of profit to be made from things like pumps, so a sensible salesperson will flog you one.

And what sort of idiot buys a bike without a pump? Do we buy cars without spare tyres and tyre changing kit? (Let's not get started on the debate about space-saver spares). My shirts come with a spare button. The Lego sets we buy the kids come with spare bits. There are some certainties in life apart from death and taxes, and these are that bikes will get flat tyres, Lego bits will get lost and shirts will lose buttons. We prepare for these eventualities if we're sensible and grown up.

Cyclist Yonel Watene walked his bike to the pump from his home nearby to pump his flat tyres yesterday.
"I'm broke so I don't have a pump," he said.
"It could be the difference between someone getting to work on time or not.
"I guess they waste money on other things."

Do us a favour Yonel - just fuck off. You are a twat. Grow a personal responsibility gland. It's not the job of  taxpayers like me to make up for your short comings. You can order a pump on line for less than $35. Get your spending priorities sorted out.

Riding a bike to work is cheap, but it isn't free. Bikes are a mechanical device - they wear out, and they require maintenance. I've been riding mine for over 8 years, and I do 6-8000km per year. That creates a fair bit of wear and tear. Hard wearing tyres might last 6000km - and they cost $50 a pop. Chains and group sets (the rear gears) wear out. Brake and gear cables wear out and snap. Brake pads need replacing ($25 a pair - and commuting is very hard on pads). Wheel rims and bearings wear out (just like the brake disks in your car wear down, the rims on bike wheels wear down every time you use the brakes. Eventually you run out of metal and have to replace them). Lights and computers eventually fill up with water (if you ride in the wet) and die. My first pump got full of water and the seals corroded and failed. Bits get damaged through crashes. Pedals and cleats wear out from clipping in and out.

You need to degrease and oil the drive chain on a regular basis - that requires degreaser, oil and a scrubbing brush. Degreaser for bikes is not cheap - and you never use the cheap stuff (made that mistake once).

Even your clothing takes a hammering. I'm on my third pair of shoes and my sixth set of gloves. I've gone through at least four pairs of knicks - they wear down through rubbing to the point where they become see-through (not a pretty sight from behind). You can wear your normal clothes if you trips are short, but cycling wears them out too.

All this costs money. Not as much money as running a car, and not as much as a $35 per week bus pass. But it still cost something - at least a thousand bucks per year on average for me (and that doesn't count the cost of buying the bike in the first place).

If you're not spending anything on keeping your bike running, either you have a magic-pudding bike, or you aren't actually using it seriously. Or you just steal another one every time your current bike breaks down.

As for the stupid bloody council staff that made this decision - it would have been cheaper to have rounded up every twat like Yonel and given them a free pump. You could have bought 1000 pumps in bulk at $20 each and given them away. That would have left $1000 over to print stickers for each pump stating, "I am a useless, free-loading twat with no sense of personal responsibility".


Real Deal said...

"I'm broke so I don't have a pump," he said.

I wouldn't mine betting he owns a 600 buck smartphone of some sort. I am not much of a cyclist but I have bought those mini pumps that you can mount on your frame for about 10 or 15 dollars at Big W. They will give you some air while on the road. How long will it take one of those same group of people to vandalise the pump? One week I'd reckon.

kae said...

Why, when there's something not right with the bike of someone who rides a lot (eg. practising for racing or somesuch), on a 100kph back road, does the rider dismount and stand with himself and the bike over the fogline off the road, but his head sticking into the traffic?

Boy on a bike said...

I was thinking that Yonel probably has a few thousand bucks worth of tattoos somewhere on his body.

Some of the really, really cheap pumps are really, really crap. However, 35 bucks will get you a pretty good model on line.

duncan said...

I certainly hope the young lad has a pump now.. or he'll have a very short career as a courier:

Anonymous said...

apparently free air is available at most service stations, don;t tell anyone or they'll all want one.