“I’m 51 and healthy, but I don’t want to get on the subway,” says John Donohue, a Brooklyn-based artist who bought a bicycle two weeks ago. Donohue, who does not have a car, adds that he is not sure when he will feel comfortable on public transport again. It is one of the causes of fear of public transport that has caused the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. And that is causing a consequence: the increase in bicycle sales, according to the agency ‘Reuters’.
As ‘Reuters’ points out, many of the purchases are from people looking for a way to go outdoors, since despite the recommendations for confinement, even very affected states such as New York still allow them to go out on the street to give a walk or exercise. Other users use them because now they do not want to use public transport to go to work for fear of infections, as is the case with John Donohue, who has to go to a print shop every morning.
Many of the purchases are from people looking for a way to get outdoors, but others say they are no longer comfortable on public transport
According to U.S. statistics on bicycle use, about 870,000 Americans used it to go to work between 2012 and 2017. In fact, it is 0.6% of workers, although the rate increases to 1.1% in cities and exceeds 5% in those with more than 60,000 inhabitants.
However, a more recent Statista survey showed that this percentage had already changed in 2019: 5% of all workers already used their own bicycle to go to work and 1% used the shared service, increasingly present in the big cities.
The bicycle, essential
In the US, a bicycle is an essential transport good. For this reason, bike shops have remained open these days – although with new protection measures: it is not allowed to test the bikes and they are delivered on the street.
According to the National Association of Bicycle Dealers, approximately three-quarters of bicycle sales in the United States are made through large stores such as Walmart Stores, which is the largest seller of bicycles, remain open.
Kent International, which imports bicycles from China and also manufactures them at a plant in South Carolina, has noted that sales of its low-priced bicycles have increased in the past month. In fact, five of its top 20 models have been sold out, and he expects the pace to continue like this,” said Chief Executive Arnold Kamler. China’s bikes are already arriving with good flow, as their factories have reopened in the last month.
The Kent company increased its sales by 30% in March and by 50% in April
In numerical terms, Kamler has stated that sales at most of the major retailers it supplies increased 30% in March and increased more than 50% so far in April. Demand has changed so much that, although they used to distribute on the coasts before, now they do it all over the country.
Mark Vautour works at a bicycle store near the Boston University campus. According to him, he has sold many more bicycles to people who arrive with some anxiety looking for an alternative to the subway. It has also sold more children’s bikes, “because parents don’t know what to do with their children these days.”
Many of the bicycles that have been sold are cheap, priced between $ 500 and $ 800, when the sales of bikes are usually between $ 1,500 and $ 2,000. This also has consequences and is that the income is lower, according to Andrew Crooks, executive director of NYC Velo, a chain of three stores in the New York area. “We have to keep our doors open and still the business is not viable,” he says.
However, this use of bikes seems to be one of the social changes that the coronavirus has brought. “[The virus] will never completely disappear. Rather we will learn how to live with it, as with other viruses,” ditch Kaitlyn Lee, who bought a bike this weekend.