On Saturday, March 28, Vélos-Roy-O in Quebec City, was forced to close after a visit from local police. As Quebec, bike shops are not considered an essential service, the shop’s owner, Julien Roy, was knowingly defying government’s orders.
Before the visit from the police—which was prompted by an anonymous tip—Roy spoke publicly to Radio-Canada about his intent to safely keep the shop running. “It is not so much a question of finances,” he said to Radio-Canada. “We want to help those who travel by bicycle. There are delivery people on bikes and health care workers who go to work by bike.” He also noted that public transit has been reduced so more people are using cycling as a safe means of transportation.
Roy himself is under 14 day quarantine as he recently traveled to Spain. His mechanic and manager had been maintaining the shop and implementing numerous safety measures, such as only allowing one customer in the store at a time. Even with precautions in place, the police officers were uncompromising in their order and Roy was forced to close the shop to avoid a hefty fine.
Protests for an essential service
Roy, several other bike shops, Vélo Québec and Accès transport viable have been petitioning provincial and municipal governments to include bike shops in the list of essential services. They argue that if car garages are allowed to stay open, bike shops should as well. “We really see ourselves as a service as essential as car garages,” says Roy. “Our shop is centered around repair and service.”