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Will Covid-19 finally turn a straphanging NYC into a city for bikers?

A man wearing a protective mask rides a bicycle on Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan during the outbreak of Covid-19 in New York City on March 24.
Reuters/Mike Segar
The office is changing.
  • Max Lockie
By Max Lockie

Deputy news editor

Published Last updated on

The global pandemic has changed the way people get to and from work—if they’re going at all. In most cases that means fewer miles driven, vacant public transit networks, and empty airplanes. One transportation method has bucked this trend—the bicycle.

Affordable bicycles have been almost impossible to keep in stock since pandemic lockdowns took hold in the US. The national outdoor gear store REI said cycling equipment sales are up fourfold over last year. “We do not expect sales to slow down in the near term, as long as supply can keep up,” Ron Thompsen, REI merchandising manager, said in an email.

Across the US,  recreational bike sales increased by 121% and ebike sales rose by 85% in March over last year, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm. Overall, bicycle and bike shop services have shot up to $733 million, a 44% jump over last year.  Tyrone Williams, co-founder of the popular downtown Manhattan bike shop, Dah Shop, told Quartz that he’s seen around a tripling of business during the pandemic.

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