“The line is constant,” said Larry Duffus of Larry’s Freewheeling bike shop in Harlem as 10 people waited outside Monday.
“For the past two months, every day is a busy day. People are afraid of taking public transportation, and when you ride a bike you are free in the fresh air,” he continued.
“I’ve been in business here for 50 years, and I haven’t seen anything like this since the 12-day subway strike in 1980. Four months ago, we had 250 bikes in stock. Now we have 30 left to sell.”
At Mr. C’s Cycles in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, there are usually 10 to 18 people hovering outside at any given time these days — and owner Carlos Valentino estimated business is up “200 percent.”
“We’re probably about 60 percent sold out,” owner Carlos Valentino said.
Demand is so high that it has prompted a national bike shortage, shop owners said.
“Right now all of our suppliers are out of the bikes that we sell,” said Charlie McCorkell, whose company Bicycle Habitat has three locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Victor Lei, 39, a teacher from the Bronx waiting outside Duffus’s store in Harlem on Monday said he was seeking a way to get around without taking a bus or subway.
“My procrastination is going to cost me several hundred extra dollars, I’m sure,” he said.
A recent survey found that three-quarters of New Yorkers plan to use mass transit less or avoid it entirely when lockdowns begin to lift.
Cycling advocates have
So far, however, data suggests people may be mostly biking on weekends.
The number of Citi Bike trips on weekends averaged 60,651 in the first three weeks of May, compared to last May’s 50,652 average — even as the number of weekday trips this year remained nearly half what it was in 2019.
Bike counts on East River bridges reflect a similar trend: there were an average of 20,135 bike crossings on May weekends this year — a 64 percent spike over last year — even as weekday crossings remain low.
But Bike New York spokesman Jon Orcutt, a former city transportation official, argued that those stats may not reflect New Yorkers taking short trips within their neighborhoods.
“It’s certainly happening on weekends, but you see more bikes on the street any day of the week,” Orcutt said.