Bike sales spike during coronavirus as workers gear up for cycling commutes

As cities consider commuter culture during coronavirus, bike makers are fueling demand

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More Americans are gearing up for cycling commutes.

Bike lanes could be crucial for transporting commuters to work to minimize their use of mass transit during the coronavirus pandemic. And a number of local bike shops and American manufacturers have had record-high sales as a result.

Detroit Bikes, a Michigan-based commuter and city bike manufacturer that sells bikes direct-to-consumer and wholesale for retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon, has sold out of some of its inventory. Sales jumped 645 percent in April and a 1,096 percent online since it was mandated to close its manufacturing facility in March. In May, overall sales have already surged 911 percent with online sales up as much as 1654 percent.

“We’re seeing more cycling for everyday use,” Zakary Pashak, owner of Detroit Bikes, told FOX Business Monday. “We’re definitely struggling to keep up.”

The business started up production with fewer workers again on Monday under Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest executive order. Before the shutdown, Detroit Bikes was producing 500 bikes per day with a staff of around 30. Now, it’s playing catch up on orders for bikes that cost an average of $400 each.

Cities around the globe are strategizing commuter culture amid the pandemic as businesses slowly start to reopen.

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said his administration implemented a task force on transportation with a goal of moving “away from so much dependence on cars,” StreetBlog NYC reported.

Ben Reyes, owner of Kickstand Bicycle in Manhattan's Midtown neighborhood, is already fueling the demand. He said spring is usually when the business starts to pick up, he says he hasn't seen anything like the pandemic-induced spike.

“A lot of people have been coming in looking for bikes because they’re anxious to take trains. They’ll buy a basic commuter bike or hybrid,” Reyes said, adding that sales have been up as much as 30 percent since March. "It’s definitely been busier than normal and really in recent days or in the last week or so, we’ve been beginning to run out of inventory."

Minnesota's Jonny Rock Bikes owner Jonathan Minks can also attest. He said sales were up by 50 percent or more at his shop, and while he says he hasn't had major supply issues yet, department stores, he said, like Walmart at Target have sold out because they rely on imported parts and bikes made in China.

A lot of people have been coming in looking for bikes because they’re anxious to take trains.

- Ben Reyes, owner of Kickstand Bicycle in New York City

There's been an uptick in the rental bike market, despite fears of contracting the virus, which is contagious from person to person contact, on surfaces, like bike handlebars, for up to three days, and in droplets in the air when someone coughs or sneezes. Lyft-owned Citi Bike saw a 67 percent increase in the first 11 days of March compared to the same period last year. Subway ridership, meanwhile, was down by nearly 20 percent during the same time period, the Daily News reported.


Bikes have already played a crucial role for cities in Europe to free up crowded public transit. London is implementing what its mayor Sadiq Khan says is “the biggest transformation any city of our size has ever seen to make walking and cycling a more accessible and safe means of travel.”

Paris, meanwhile, is also planning a more bike-friendly transformation its mayor Anne Hidalgo calls an “anti-car program focused on remodeling the city core to make more space for pedestrians and cyclists while barring older, more polluting cars from entering the city,” according to the City Lab. The French government plans to invest $22 million to develop bike travel including temporary bike lanes.