Story at a glance
- Many Americans are now avoiding public transportation over concerns of spreading or catching the coronavirus.
- Bicycles have emerged as a popular mode of solo transit and exercise for some in quarantine.
- Stores are reporting record sales and shortages of bicycles in recent weeks.
For thousands of Americans who rely on public transportation, the coronavirus pandemic has threatened their mobility. Now, many of them are turning to bicycles and pedaling their way out of quarantine.
In March, sales of adult leisure bikes more than doubled, growing by 121 percent, while children's and BMX bike sales grew by 56 percent, according to the NPD group, a market research company. Bike shops, which are considered essential businesses in some states, saw a 20 percent increase in service and repairs.
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“It's been amazing this is definitely the busiest we’ve ever seen the bike business in the whole 60 years we’ve been in business,” Dale Harrell, who owns Paul’s Cycling & Fitness in North Carolina, told local news station WXII.
The store is down to about 50 bikes, where they would normally keep about 150, and customers have made appointments three weeks out. Harrell said they have a few more bikes coming, but it could be July until they get many more.
While some riders may be headed to work, others are motivated more by play. Isolated indoors, many Americans are looking for ways to get active and exercise. Sales of trainers and rollers, which allow indoor use of bicycles, more than tripled in March, growing by 268 percent, according to the NPD group. As the weather warms up, some are hoping to get outdoors and many localities are allowing residents to leave their homes for exercise and recreational activities.
“Consumers are looking for outdoor- and kid-friendly activities to better tolerate the challenges associated with stay-at-home orders, and cycling fits the bill well,” Dirk Sorenson, sports industry analyst at NPD, said in a release. “Growth is stemming largely from children’s, BMX, and adult leisure bikes that carry a more approachable price-point than some of the more expensive bike styles that were selling well prior to the COVID-19 crisis. Ultimately, more people are likely riding today than in years past.”
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