One or two said they could sell him a high-quality racing bike for £ 1,000. The others advised him to place an order, wait a few weeks for the bike to be delivered by the manufacturer, and then wait about a week for it to be built by the store. And there was no option to try before buying.
Since the start of the lockdown, UK bike manufacturers and stores have reported an increase in demand, and many expect a further increase in sales as people plan to resume their trip to work when restrictions relax.
Brompton, the UK’s largest bicycle manufacturer, producing nearly 50,000 folding cycles per year, has seen online sales increase fivefold since the start of April, and Halfords announced “solid performance” and a 23% increase in the share price.
According to the Association of Cycle Traders, up to 20,000 bikes already sold are awaiting delivery and construction. “The sudden demand for essential workers and the significant adoption of the bicycle for exercise, travel and family leisure during the pandemic, still fueled by good weather, are putting extreme pressure on the industry,” he said. he declares.
Bike repair shops have also seen a strong increase in activity, with people bringing unused bikes onto the roads stored in garages and hangars.
Bike retailers are allowed to stay open during lockouts, but have one-on-one policies and prohibit customers from trying cycles before buying.
Isabel listed three reasons why she wanted a bike. “It’s a way out of the house and it’s good for my mental and physical health. Whenever the lock fades, it’s a way to avoid public transportation. And I always thought of cycling in London but the traffic made me nervous. Now seems like a good time to try it. “
Eventually, she found a used bike to sell online and joined the growing number of new and returning cyclists on UK roads.
In Scotland, huge year-over-year increases have been recorded by dozens of cycle counters placed on the roads by the lobby group Cycling Scotland. Edinburgh experienced increases of up to 252% on weekdays and up to 454% on weekends in the first three weeks of April. Only one area of the city, near the university, fell. In Glasgow, cycle traffic increased by 74%.
“The roads are quieter, the air is cleaner, and cycling has clear benefits for physical and mental health,” said Keith Irving, managing director of Cycling Scotland. “There has always been a latent demand for cycling in the UK, and now that there is an opportunity for a safer and more pleasant experience, people are grabbing it with both hands. “
In Manchester, cycling has increased 22% since the start of the lockout. “The demand for bikes is phenomenal at the moment … and the industry is struggling to keep up – which I think is a big problem,” said Chris Boardman, Olympic gold medalist who is now the Commissioner of the Grand Manchester for cycling and walking. .
London has also seen a sharp increase in bicycle use, with predictions that the number of cyclists on the roads could increase tenfold when lock-in restrictions are relaxed. The commute to work by public transit should be difficult, as the limits on the number of people on buses and tubes are enforced and people’s fears about the risk of infection remain.
According to Will Norman, the capital’s foot and bicycle commissioner, restrictions on public transport mean that up to 8 million trips a day will have to be made by other means. “If only a fraction turns into cars, London will stop, stifling our economic recovery,” he said.
Heidi Alexander, deputy mayor of London for transport, tweeted last week about “the experience of a 45-year-old overweight woman” on bike routes. “Life is going to be quite different for a while. We are going to have to change the way we move around the city. I wish this horrible time would lead hundreds of thousands of women (and men!) To London to ride their bikes – as a result, they are healthier and happier. “
But not everyone is happy with the cycling boom. A sign in rural Cambridgeshire last month urged cyclists to “stay away” and “stop hauling viruses into our village”, and Little Bollington Parish Council in Cheshire deleted a warning to cyclists saying ” stay in your area “after objections.
Planks with six-inch nails were planted in woods in east Cleveland in what appears to have been an attempt to deter cyclists, and there have been reports of one “Large amount of nails / tacks” placed in London’s Regent’s Park in “an attack on cyclists”.
Nevertheless, Paul Tomlinson, director of cycling at Halfords, said: “With public transport severely reduced and social distancing measures likely to remain in place for some time, we believe that many more people will turn to cycling as alternative means of transport. “
According to company research, 55% of people want more government investment in cycling, 40% want dedicated bike lanes on each road, and 20% want more parking and locking bikes.