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Will Canadian bike shops stay open during lockdown?

Some argue their service is needed now, more than ever

Bike repair maintenance

Unnecessary use of public transit is being discouraged amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who work essential jobs or who can’t work from home have started to turn to other options for transit such as walking or cycling.

Some countries, such as Colombia, have put in emergency measures to boost cycling infrastructure. In contrast, while leisure cycling has been banned in Spain, there are reports that commuters are now being ticketed as well.

Government officials and advocacy groups around the world are currently struggling to figure out the line between encouraging isolated modes of transit and allowing cyclists to engage in an activity that could result in a crash (and take up valuable hospital resources).

Canadian bike shops

In Philadelphia, bike shops have been deemed an essential service, which allows them to stay open during lockdown and help others use a safe mode of transportation. In Canada, many bike shops that remained open in the past week have seen their annual spring rush pickup early as commuters scramble to get their bikes ready to ride.

“We’re reminding people it’s not time to bring the family in and test-drive five bikes for an hour,” Ira Kargel, Gears Bike shop co-owner told the Globe and Mail. “We want to be able to sell you a tube. If you want to bring the family, let them stay in the car.”

On March 18, Calgary’s BikeBike shop sent a call out on Twitter to find out how other bike shops are handling the situation.

Bikebike says they will remain open for now, as their shop is specialized and most clients are there for a specific purpose, not just to browse. A number of local bike shops across Canada replied to their tweet and shared their experiences.

Most have made the difficult choice to close.

The London Bicycle Cafe is doing what they can to help those who use bikes for transport.

Angela Phelps, owner of Cranky’s Bike Shop in Alberta, is in the midst of a hard decision.

Broad Street Cycles in Victoria will be open by appointment until Saturday

The Lions Cyclery in Kelowna is also open by appointment only.

Toronto shop, Urbane Cyclist, urged customers to call or email before coming in to the store. They acknowledged that their service is important to the community in their Instagram post.

What should you do if you need to visit a bike shop?

Before visiting your local bike shop, ask yourself, is this essential? Many shops, such as Blacksmith in Toronto, are offering discounts on online shipping. Check if your local bike shop has set up an online store before going to a bigger online retailer.

If the service you require is essential, call or email your bike shop before visiting. Things are rapidly evolving and a shop that was open yesterday may be closed today. This also gives them a heads up that you will be coming, and a chance to do some extra disinfecting if necessary.

Minimize time spent in the shop and maintain distance from others. Bring a card for payment, not cash. Be sure to thank the employees for putting themselves at risk so that others have a safe means of transit.