Shelter-in-place apparently also includes the open roads.
Just ask Dave Way, owner of Tip Top Bike Shop in Oakland, California, who sold two cargo bikes (for $4,500 and $5,000) in the past two weeks, double what typical sells in a month. "We're working a lot," Way says. "A lot of people are coming in for work on their bikes. They want to get outside, and it's one of the few things that's really accessible."
Just as New York City has experienced a surge in dog adoptions, with dogs being described by some as a "hall pass" for people stuck at home, determined cyclists in California and elsewhere are fixing up and buying bikes. Conditions for riding are better, and with fewer cars on the road, Los Angeles is experiencing record-high air quality. Reports from Phoenix, Long Island, New York, and North Texas also suggest a bike boomlet.
It's all happening with new rules, of course. Tip Top in Oakland is operating under limited hours and with strict distancing measures in place (customers don't enter the shop except to try on helmets and then only with precautions). But Way says people keep bringing in older bikes for tune-ups, requesting to have child seats added, or are buying their kids' first bikes. "I was really surprised," says Way. "There are way more cyclists than normal. They're happy that we're here, happy that we're open."
Jay Wolff, who owns five Helen's Cycles shops in Los Angeles, has temporarily closed three of his stores so employees with health concerns can shelter in place. "They need to do what they need to do to take care of themselves," Wolff says. The two remaining stores are operating during shortened hours. "We are very busy, especially in the service department," he says, noting many customers are new or are returning to biking. "People want to stay healthy and stay active," Wolff says. He estimates that wait times for repairs are backed up about seven days.
Each night after closing, Wolff has been making home deliveries of new and repaired bikes until 9 p.m. "The smiles that it brings to people is really rewarding."
Anson Vaughan, who owns Spoke Easy in San Francisco, says his sales are up $15,000 over this time last year. "People are excited about getting out and being able to ride in the city," says Vaughan. Besides, he added, "you don't want to be taking public transportation."