Like bees to a honey pot they come – to the new pump track in Grey Lynn Park! After school and all weekend long, kids of all ages and sizes, round and round, and up and down, a perpetual motion machine on wheels. The mayor himself gave it a go – in a suit, no less – when opening the Grey Lynn Greenway. We also have it on authority that sometimes, long after bedtime, you can hear dads on bikes out there whooping it up in the dark.
The track was the brainchild of two Grey Lynn dads: Paul Wacker, a business coach, and Scott Kuegler, an adventure guide, who are both raising busy boys. It went from a twinkle in their eye to a fully built community-supported reality in the space of just two years, and is a finalist in the ‘Big Bike Bling’ category of this year’s Bike to the Future Awards (to be announced in October).
It’s a brilliant success! So how did it happen, and can it be replicated elsewhere? Below, Scott Kuegler tells us how they did it – plus some crucial tips if you’re keen to pump up your own neighbourhood.
Anything great takes a lot of work… and so it was with the Grey Lynn Pump Track
Paul and I both stumbled across hundreds of kids having the time of their lives on the pump track in Napier. To us, it was a no-brainer: we need one of these in Auckland. But why doesn’t our council build them like they do in the provinces?
Our answer was if you want one, you convince Council, you find the money, and you do all the work… and so it began. A highly supportive Waitemata Local Board, with a champion in Rob Thomas, saw us gain permission for the project and 20% of the funding. Now the rest was up to us.
We knew that if we used sausage sizzles and cake stalls as our method of funding, it would be our grandkids who got to use the track, not our kids! Our friends at Sport Auckland were invaluable in connecting us with their established trust network and fronting funding applications. The focus was the trust network and wealthy philanthropists who saw real value in the track. Our line to everyone was ‘We want to get kids off devices, back on bikes and socialising in parks.’
The money rolled in – we raised $150,000 in 18 months – and we moved on to execution. As keen BMX and MTB racers, Paul and I both knew that track design is paramount. We learnt from two tracks in Auckland that were basically unrideable (note to Council: please fix Waterview before someone else gets hurt) and then commissioned Jeff Carter at SouthStar Adventures to build a track for us.
We finished the track in under 3 months, despite 3 tropical cyclones, thanks to the strong construction team. Key to the success of the project were our track builders, Southstar; Fulton Hogan as advisors and suppliers of exceptionally well priced materials; and Asphalt Improvements who laid the surface with artisan-like finesse.
What we have now is over 1000 kids a week on their bikes in the park. I have mothers telling me their food bill has doubled – but also, their kids don’t live on their phones. What I see is kids from all the primary schools socialising in the park and learning adventure skills on wheels, pushing their limits and conquering their fears. Mission accomplished.
Some tips if you want to build your own pump track in your neighbourhood
1- Make it epic like the Grey Lynn Pump Track, so kids will come from far and wide and will never get bored.
2- Locate it somewhere central, in the middle of primary schools and houses, so kids can ride there after school.
3- Employ a great track builder like Jeff Carter. Don’t think you can do this on your own! History shows that those who tried, failed.
The Grey Lynn Pump Track Hotmix Asphalting is coming along nicely. Working with hot bitumen might look like one of the toughest jobs in the world , but there's an incredible amount of craftsmanship and knowledge going into creating the surface that will eventually create a whole lot of good times for the riders of Auckland. We have been hampered by rain delays, but with some luck the remaining berms and start ramp will get laid today. #southstartrails #asphaltsolutions #pumptrack
4- Partner with a great supplier like Fulton Hogan.
5- Ask your local sporting body to introduce you to the funding agencies and trusts in your local area.
6- Invite the community to get involved. We had a community gardening day to beautify the area around the track and plant the rain garden, and our Facebook page has over 1000 members. People love being part of a good thing.
7- Be ready for this to take over your life. Paul and I spend over 1000 hours unpaid to make the Grey Lynn Pump Track happen, though we don’t begrudge a minute of it.
Check out the Grey Lynn Pump Track on Facebook: loads of footage, loads of comments and loads of happy kids. Now go and make some more of these, my kids want to ride your track!
HEADS UP! The official Grey Lynn Pump Track opening party is on Saturday 18 November at 2.00pm. Food trucks! Demos! Prizes!
Note: the track is nearest to the Dryden St entrance of Grey Lynn Park – although of course if you’re coming on your bike, you can arrive from any direction you like.