COVID-19: who’s going full doomsday prep on this?

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Inside the coronavirus bicycle boom
Natasha Boddy

Natasha BoddyWork & Careers reporter
Updated Apr 14, 2020 – 9.09am,first published at Apr 13, 2020 – 6.12pm
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At 99 Bikes in Bondi Junction, queues have been snaking out the door over the past few weeks.

The queues are thanks in part to physical distancing rules, but it's also because the COVID-19 lockdown has everyone going gaga for cycling as they look for new ways to get active or alternatives to public transport.

Matt Turner, son of travel entrepreneur Graham "Skroo" Turner and managing director of Pedal Group, the company behind 99 Bikes, says there has been a huge uptick in business, especially over the last four weeks.

"There's been about a 50 per cent increase across our stores, but in our city stores it would be more, so around inner Sydney, inner Melbourne, inner Brisbane," he said.

Online retailer Bicycles Online has also seen its sales figures more than double in the past two weeks. Commuter bike sales grew 210 per cent, kids bike sales were up 60 per cent and mountain bike sales surged 170 per cent.

"Sales are exceeding what we would expect to see at Christmas,” said Bicycles Online co-founder James van Rooyen.




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Nick Johns said there has been a wide range of customers interested in cycling. Louie Douvis
Bikes 99 salesman Nick Johns said the last four weeks had been "non-stop".
"We've got people dusting off old bikes, we've had a lot of people who have been thinking about getting a bike for a long time who say they may as well do it now," he said.
"We've also had a lot of people spending time with their family which is really good to see, buying kids bikes. We've even had a few families come into and buy all bikes [for the whole family]."
Mr Johns said it was great that families were spending more time together and that so many people were getting active.
"They've got the choice if they want to get fat and be alcoholics or get fit and love their family, that's how I see it. Sorry I'm blunt," he said.
99 Bikes has 47 stores across the country and is jointly-owned by Flight Centre, the Turner family and employees.
The company has employed about an extra 50 staff to cope with the increased demand. Of those, about half were Flight Centre staff who had been stood down.
Mr Turner said there was strong demand across a mix of products, especially for bikes under $1200 through to trainers, which had all sold out.
"It's been challenging from a supply perspective and a people perspective. But generally I think the guys in the store are loving the extra attention from more customers and getting more people onto bikes, which is obviously why we exist."
All 99 Bikes stores were practising physical distancing and limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time. (Most states are still allowing people to cycle with the people they live with or one other person, but check any social distancing requirements as they can vary from state to state.)
Mr Turner believes the cycling surge is being driven by three reasons: transport, health and exercise and family activities.
Australian Cycle Alliance president Edward Hore said the pandemic had definitely sparked a renewed interest in cycling.
"Essentially, it's the easiest way to keep your social distance and get exercise at the same time," he said.
"It's good for your metabolism, it's good for your fitness and it's good for your mental health. There are just so many positives of going for a ride right now."
Mr Hore said fewer cars on the road also meant it was a lot safer for cyclists at the moment.

Alexander Miller, spokesman for the Bicycle Network, said data collected a few weeks ago had indicated an increase in cyclists on key commuter routes.
"We think it's a good thing to go out and ride a bike and make sure you're getting that physical activity every day, at least 30 minutes, because it's really important for physical and mental health."
Mr Turner said it was hard to know if the surge in demand would sustain, but the company was planning "as if it will be".
We know what a metre and a half is now... so it's obvious now we can all give each 1.5 metres safely – even on the road.
— Edward Hore, Australian Cycling Alliance
"We don't want to miss out on that extra demand. Worst case is we end up with too much product of the things that are in demand now," he said.
Mr Hore hopes it will lead to more cyclists on the road, as well as an appreciation of social distancing between cyclists and motorists.
"We know what a metre and a half is now... so it's obvious now we can all give each 1.5 metres safely – even on the road," he said.
 

mas2

Likes Dirt
I thought bike shops would be screwed due to covid but they seem to have been doing pretty well worldwide even. I reckon there will be some good bike deals around come end of year though from people who have ridden them once.

When lockdowns started i went into several 99 bike shops and they all limited people in store. I needed gloves and went to try them on and the guy said he couldn't let me do it. I asked how would I know if they dont fit and he said he didnt have a good solution. I had to lay it flat and place my hand on it.

Went to the giant bike shop and there were about 100 people all packed in a tiny shop. The giant shop has been about 60% empty the last few weeks as they cant get any more.
 

Mr Crudley

Eats Squid
When lockdowns started i went into several 99 bike shops and they all limited people in store. I needed gloves and went to try them on and the guy said he couldn't let me do it. I asked how would I know if they dont fit and he said he didnt have a good solution. I had to lay it flat and place my hand on it.
We drive past 99 Bikes at Stanmore in Sydney a few weeks ago on a Saturday morning. There was the usual 1.5m spacing Covid line out the front but the line went on for about 30 metres, right past 2-3 of the neighbouring businesses. They were killing it.

Pity for the other LBS's that have now gone like Cell Bikes used to be about 200m up the same road. Timing is everything.
 
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