The bicycle industry has seen a surge in business in recent weeks, particularly for bicycle menders as people get old bikes out of their sheds in a bid to avoid public transport during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Association of Cycle Traders (ACT) said that members had reported a boom in mending, while sales of cheaper bikes had also been strong, as commuters decided to travel on two wheels rather than risk infection on trains, buses or the tube.
The UK’s biggest cycle chains, Evans and Halfords, have both closed temporarily but the ACT expects the majority of its members to stay open for now, as long as they can find a way to trade responsibly without putting staff and customers at risk.
Jonathan Harrison of the ACT said: “In the last 10 days there has been a surge in the number of people getting bikes out of sheds and garages, dusting them off and thinking ‘I might need this.’”
Steve Garidis, executive director of the Bicycle Association, added: “Cycling has a strategic role to play in local transport resilience – key workers are able to get to work in towns and cities without public transport or relying on lifts.”
A number of bike shops near hospitals have been servicing NHS workers’ bikes free or at a discount, and Brompton Bicycle, the folding bike specialist, has lent 200 bicycles to staff at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in central London for a month to help them get to work.
William Butler-Adams, managing director of Brompton Bicycle, said: “We have a role to support people and keep them on the road.” He said sales had held up in the UK, but had “dropped off a cliff” overseas, where Brompton sends 75% of its bikes, amid shutdowns in Italy, Spain and France.
One south coast bike shop has seen bookings for repairs increase by about 10%, while Clever Mike, a cycle maintenance and repair shop in north London, said it had enjoyed its busiest week in seven years of business with double the usual sales for this time of year. However, the Clever Mike business is closing temporarily, because it is concerned about keeping staff safe in its busy workshop.