A COVID Bike Boom Is Happening In Cincinnati - Will It Last?

Oct 5, 2020

If you've had trouble buying a bike lately you aren't alone. Entry level to mid-range bikes are in short supply because of issues related to the pandemic. This, as an increasing number of people are taking to local bike trails for exercise.

Standing on the Purple People Bridge for a Sept. 25 cycling event, Breakfast on the Bridge, Fifty West Cycling owner David Ariosa said the shortages are almost across the board. "Everything that has to do with cycling right now - bikes, inner tubes and pedals," he says. (Ariosa is an underwriter on WVXU.)

JB Hutton, who owns West Chester Cyclery, is also seeing shortages. He's repairing people's old bikes since riders can't get new ones. "When all this started back in the spring everybody was stuck at home and wanted to get out and ride and everybody bought bikes," he says. 

He looks for the surge in riding to continue into the fall. Ariosa says the supply shortage should gradually improve.

Cincinnati is echoing a national trend where bike sales are up in the double and triple digits. Axios reports sales of mountain bikes are up 150% and leisure bike sales are up 203%.

Chan Stevens rides 15,000 miles a year, and before the pandemic was biking to work.
Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU

Seasoned cyclists in Cincinnati are noticing fewer riders on the road but more on trails. Madeira's Chan Stevens is a regular bike commuter but because of COVID is working from home. He biked downtown to WVXU for an interview.

"I'm extreme, so I'm not going to suggest that any of your users go this far but I basically eliminated the use of a car entirely," Stevens says. "Everywhere I go is either bike, Uber, or wife, in that priority."

Stevens has some cool gear: a seat with radar to alert him to rear traffic and a helmet that lights up when he brakes and flashes turn signals.

Even with the right gear, he's been hit twice and cautions motorists to yield to cyclists. " 'Your' roads are actually 'our' roads, funded by 'our' income taxes and not your gas taxes," he says.  "And in fact, the first paved roads in America were through the efforts of a bicyclist union, not for cars."

Steve Magas is known as "the bike lawyer." He runs the Fatal Crash Project, which tracks every deadly bike accident in the state. "Ohio has always been a very safe place to ride but we've seen an uptick in the last decade in those numbers really ticking up in the state and nationally."

Magas blames cell phones and social media for the distraction. But he tries to be positive and is enthusiastic at how the pandemic has increased interest in cycling.

"To me, this pandemic has been hugely positive in that people are sort of rediscovering the joys of their neighborhood, walking around, the joys of getting on a bike and things like that. Bike riding is way up and it's fun!"

If you're looking for a bike club there are a number of them, including the Cincinnati Cycle Club.