May 20, 2020

The training wheels are off: Americans want to cycle to work now

Bike shops are seeing booming demand.

I hope you like turquoise, because if you’re trying to buy a bike nowadays, that’s the best color you’re going to get.

As Americans rethink their coming work commutes, many are pumped about jumping on the bike.

But these days, the bike lane is not the fast lane

Bike sales have sped way up since the pandemic began, and some categories are expecting 35% annual growth. The real-life Peloton is zipping through big cities in particular: One Brooklyn bike shop has seen a 600%+ jump in demand.

Shops have run so low on supply that customers are even settling for C-list bikes — the orange and turquoise two-wheelers, the extra larges and extra smalls.

One owner of 13 bike shops in Oregon and California told Bloomberg that people wait in lines outside of his stores every day — some for as many as 2 hours.

Get used to rush-hour bike traffic 

To meet demand, Chinese manufacturers — who produce many of America’s bikes — are putting the pedal to the metal, but a new shipment of bikes isn’t expected until mid-June.

Researchers in Europe are encouraging cities to invest in electric bikes — which provide partial pedaling power — to help residents get to work. Cities are drawing new “pop-up” bike lanes to reduce crowding on public transit.

There’s reason to think this trend, unlike the great chicken wing surplus, may last beyond the pandemic. Cities are already shutting down roads to create more space, and some, like Seattle, have made those closures permanent. That might translate into a coming biking renaissance.

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