‘Pump track’ for bicycles to be built in Oakland’s Joaquin Miller Park

Oakland Pump Track/Courtesy

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In September, volunteers will begin work on building a bike pump track in Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland.

A pump track is a vacant space, cleared of vegetation and rocks, with elevated areas such as mounds or ramps made of compact dirt, according to Morgan Fletcher, a member of the nonprofit Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay. A rider needs to pump, or use their muscles and take advantage of gravity to move their bike and achieve speed and acceleration without pedaling.

“It’s really good and fun because it can be used by everyone: kids, adults, those with experience, those with no experience,” said Ryan Gardner, a volunteer at the pump track. “A lot of different people can hang out at the same place, and no one gets left out.”

Gardner said he has been mountain biking for 10 years, and with this track, he hopes to make mountain biking more accessible to the community. Gardner said he noticed Oakland had no pump tracks while other cities in the area do, and he decided to build one with the help of other volunteers.

Fletcher stated that Gardner, along with professional mountain biker and trail builder Kevin Smallman, approached him regarding the project. Fletcher added that he helped with fundraising, planning, communication and sourcing volunteers. The Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay sponsored the project and provided necessary manpower, tools and guidance, according to Fletcher.

“We don’t have dedicated mountain biking facilities in Oakland,” Gardner said. “Having something that makes mountain biking more accessible to everyone, I thought, would be great for the community.”

According to Fletcher, the project has been in the design phase for two years, during which time all necessary permits were acquired, $16,000 was raised through a GoFundMe campaign, enough dirt was found, and volunteers were recruited.

Fletcher added that the site will be cleared for dirt delivery later this month, with work on the pump track set to begin in September. Volunteer at the pump track Jay Sundu, who also works at UC Berkeley Facilities Services, said he was able to secure “clean” dirt that meets the city of Oakland’s standards for park use from a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory project.

Fletcher said in an email that the first version of the pump track will be ready in spring 2020, with enhancements coming in subsequent years. He added that the pump track can be used recreationally, for community riding and for a safe mountain biking learning environment.

“I’m excited to get this done and have people check it out,” Gardner said. “I want to build a place where the community can hang out and enjoy themselves. Mountain biking has been a big part of my life, and I want to share that experience.”

Contact Suryan Bhatia at [email protected].