The popularity of cycling is soaring in Richmond as residents seek a way to enjoy the outdoors and spend time together.
Photos by Hannah Scott
Bike boom emerges in the midst of pandemic
By Don Fennell
Published 12:09 PDT, Fri July 31, 2020
Even before the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, cycling was on the upswing. Now, there’s a full-on boom.
“I think it can be attributed to a few factors—one being something to get out and do in a safe manner, whether by yourself or within your family, keep a safe distance, and be out in the fresh air,” says Brett Martyniuk of Village Bikes in Steveston. “With the pandemic shutting down gyms and, at the beginning, ski hills and even golf courses, cycling becomes a go-to option to get your fitness in.”
It’s also increasingly become a favoured mode of transportation for running errands or an alternative to taking public transit, he says.
For Village Bikes, it’s also meant a sharp uptick in business.
“We have seen a dramatic increase with people wanting to get into cycling for the first time, or parents wanting to get a bike to get out and ride with their kids,” says Martyniuk. “We’ve also seen people wanting to upgrade their current bikes as they’ve decided cycling will be their sole means of transportation to get to and from work. And we’ve seen people purchase bikes because they want to maintain an active lifestyle and what they’re used to doing hasn’t been an option for them.”
But keeping up with the demand has been challenging. Martyniuk says there is a shortage for certain types of bikes and suppliers are scrambling to fill orders. He says it may be several weeks before Village Bikes is able to restock.
Requests for service and repairs, which Village Bikes also provides, have increased as more and more people hop aboard the cycling bandwagon.
“We’ve seen plenty of people who are pulling their bikes out of the garage or storage that haven’t been used in over five years,” says Martyniuk. “They want to get rolling but need a tune up. It’s of course been a big positive for us business-wise, but also very difficult navigating these strange times seemingly overnight. We were operating on an appointment-only basis which came with a lot of email/phone correspondence prior to having a potential customer come into the shop.”
Richmond’s typography is ideal for cycling. The flat terrain enables riders of all ages and skill levels, and the city has built an extensive network of both on-street and off-street routes that connect to major attractions and destinations. In all, there are about 70 kilometres of designated routes which can be viewed at richmond.ca.
In addition to being well-planned, the routes also afford riders the opportunity to enjoy an abundance of scenic and shoreline views. One new feature of the routes is the cycling art tour. Created since the outbreak of the pandemic, it encourages residents to get outdoors and to celebrate public art in a safe way. The artwork underscores the power and resilience of community, connection, togetherness, home and place.
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