Buying a new bike is getting hard again. Bike shops in the city are having difficulty meeting the demand for bicycles.
Many stores report months-long waits for new bicycles, and a shortage of basic bike parts. Shop owners say this is due to supply chain problems related to the pandemic, a shortage of raw materials overseas, as well as factories being closed in Asia because of COVID.
New York’s bike shops had a booming year for sales in 2020, but so far this year, a shortage of supplies means New Yorkers may have to wait until the fall or longer to get a new bike. And some bike shops worry about whether they can stay in business until then.
Shops across the city are reporting a record low stock of bicycles, and parts like grips and pedals are hard to come by as supply chain issues related to the pandemic prevent shipments from arriving on time. There’s also increased demand for raw supplies, like bolts, leather and aluminum. In addition, factories in Asia that make these parts have shut down due to the pandemic, which continues to hobble many countries.
Bicycle Habitat, which has three locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, sold more than 5,000 bikes in 2020, a 50% increase over 2019, according to owner Charlie McCorkell. This year, he said the demand remains as high as last year, but unless someone wants a kid’s bike or a $2,000 road bike, there isn’t much for the average customer to buy.
“You might get on a waiting list to get it in two or three months,” said McCorkell. “The reality is, it’s June. Who wants to plan to get a bike in August or September right now?”
But even if you have your own bike already, getting it repaired could be challenging. McCorkell said when his staff repairs bikes, they often have to scavenge around different shops to find replacement parts.
For smaller shops like Bicycles NYC on the Upper East Side, which has been family-run since 1977, the dip in supply could shutter the shop.
“Absolutely mental, we can’t get anything,” sales associate Lucas Wissell said. “I tell a lot of my customers I feel terrible right now, but I’m in the business of letting people down. We don’t have products to sell, and we’re hoping to stay alive for the next year.”
Even as ridership steadily increases on mass transit, New Yorkers appear to be eager to hop on a bike. Data from the Department of Transportation shows a 19 percent increase in bikes crossing city-owned bridges compared to the same time last year. And Citibike continues to see record high ridership, with one week in May seeing more than 600,000 riders. On May 14th, Citibike broke its own single-day ridership record with 106,558 rides. For comparison, in May 2020, Citibike saw an average of 48,697 rides a day.
Jon Orcutt, director of advocacy at Bike New York said as cycling grows more popular, the city needs to do more to protect bikes.
“We’re fortunate that CitiBike can fill the bike supply gap in parts of the city, but we also need secure bike parking so that New Yorkers who have bikes or have recently obtained bikes continue to have those bikes,” he said.
The Times reported there was a 27 percent increase in bike thefts last year.
All the leading mayoral candidates have pledged to continue installing more bike lanes, and many have agreed to increase the number of parking spots for bicycles.