Getting around

Cycling bucks the trend as a safer way to travel

Social distancing sees a boom in bike sales and a huge jump in new riders.

Cycling fountain

People movements during the Covid-19 pandemic are down 87% and most Sydney businesses have been hit hard.

But bikes are bucking the trend with more trips being made by bike, new riders and strong sales in local bike shops.

Bike rides along Glebe’s foreshore seem to be a popular exercise choice for those working from home. The area saw a 51% increase in riding in April and May, compared to the same period last year.

Riding on Bourke Street in Redfern is up 25%, while St Johns Road in Glebe has seen a 33% increase.

And we’re riding at different times – and for other reasons.

We’re making more trips at lunchtime and in the evenings, with more delivery riders and people riding for exercise rather than commuting.

Bike couriers are not only whisking takeaway orders to our doors – demand for deliveries from other industries has also boomed.

Sydney-based Bolt Bikes leases electric bikes to delivery riders and has seen a 60% increase over March and April.

“Our delivery riders have been experiencing continual growth in all forms of delivery,” CEO Mina Nada said.

“We've also launched a free jobs noticeboard to help connect them to even more local businesses looking for a delivery offering.”

The boom in riders is helping support local bike shops.

John Moore of 99 Bikes in Bondi Junction said many bike shops are seeing gross sales doubling, with many of the extra customers being new riders.

“Lots of people are coming in who haven’t touched a bike since childhood,” John said. Entry-level and mid-range bikes, from $300 to $1,000, are the hottest ticket items.

“The first spike in sales was due to essential workers wanting to avoid public transport. When gyms closed, we saw a wave of people looking to ride for exercise. And since the school holidays, we’ve had an influx of families.

“With the prospect of restrictions easing, we’re fielding inquiries about commuter bikes from people looking to avoid public transport once they head back to the office.”

Alexandria bike shop Omafiets saw customer numbers increase by 59% in early April, according to owner Oliver Cashman.

“We’re encouraging family groups to explore the quiet streets and shared paths in their neighbourhoods,” Oliver said.

The Omafiets workshop has been busy with repairs, with riders dusting off old bikes for the first time in years.

“If you’re getting out an old bike, do your A-B-C check.

"A, for air in the tyres. B, for checking your brakes are stopping correctly. And C, is for chain, check it’s not rusty and it goes round smoothly," Oliver said.

The City of Sydney is supporting the wave of new riders to feel confident and safe.

Riders can book a cycling lesson or order a free copy of the Sydney Cycling map to discover the best ways to get around the city on a bike.

Published 30 April 2020, updated 13 May 2020

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