Bikes become the new toilet paper

 

 

Bike shops are reporting a massive spike in sales because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Australians are turning to exercise in isolation and retailers can't keep up with demand.

"We're the new toilet paper and everyone wants a piece," Grant Kaplan, manager of Giant Sydney, told Guardian Australia.

"We can't keep up with sales. Literally the phone is ringing non-stop."

Shops such as Kmart have sold out of some bikes online, with limited stocks available in store as well.

With gyms, pools and sporting venues closed, Aussies are opting for whatever outdoor exercise they can.

For the past two weekends Giant Sydney has done $40,000 in sales each Saturday when usually it would do $10,000, and sales are similar during the week.

 

Families are riding during lockdowns.
Families are riding during lockdowns.

 

Most bikes being bought are entry-level models for families looking to ride together, particularly with homeschooling under way.

One store owner predicts there will be a second wave of purchases when people are allowed to return to the office and want to avoid public transport.

Transport for NSW reported public transport use dropped by about 75 per cent in March.

It was the fewest number of people using the city's rail, bus and ferry network in almost a century.

The peak representative body for cyclists, Bicycle Network, wants the government to turn roads into cycleways because bike paths have become overwhelmed.

They found riders had increased up to 79 per cent in some areas in Melbourne.

A survey they did also found 30 per cent of people aimed to increase their bike riding during the lockdowns.

Sam Baker with children Sarah 12, Ted 8, and Sophie 14 on their new bikes which they've been riding everyday during lockdown. Picture: Lachie Millard
Sam Baker with children Sarah 12, Ted 8, and Sophie 14 on their new bikes which they've been riding everyday during lockdown. Picture: Lachie Millard

Bicycle Network chief executive Craig Richards said we needed to create more space for the thousands of people who were looking stay active and use our paths and streets.

"Coronavirus restrictions have shown that we need to start thinking differently about daily life," he said.

"Instead of driving to the gym or taking the kids to basketball, suddenly thousands of people have pulled the bikes out of the shed and are exercising near home.

"Australia should follow the lead of other countries and quickly create more space to ride separated from vehicles. More space will enable people to get out of the house and get some exercise while still maintaining their physical distancing."

In Germany, some streets have had bike lanes doubled in width, while more than 100km of roads in Oakland, California have been closed to through-traffic to make them easier to ride a bike on.

Mr Richards said Park St in Melbourne was one example of a street that could become a bike route.

"We also need to run some trials so we're ready for when people return to their workplaces but crowding onto public transport is not recommended. When that happens, bikes will be a key solution," he said.

Originally published as Bikes become the new toilet paper


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