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Coronavirus: Boom time for bikes as virus changes lifestyles

Fear of catching coronavirus on public transport has helped lead to a boom in cycle-to-work schemes.

The schemes saw a 200% increase in bicycle orders from people working for emergency services.

Demand for more mobility and exercise amid lifestyle changes imposed by the lockdown has also boosted bike sales across the UK.

“Very strong” bicycle sales at bike and car parts chain Halfords this week saw its shares soar by 23%.

Some bike stores are battling to meet demand. Broadribb Cycles in Bicester normally despatches 20-30 bikes a week, but manager Stuart Taylor says the shop is currently selling 50 bikes every day – and seeing a commensurate rise in demand for servicing.

“It’s just gone crazy,” he told the BBC. “People are dragging bikes out of sheds and garages and finding they need new tyres and cables.

“We normally take in bikes for repair and servicing and deal with them for next day [pick-up]. Now we’re booking services for two weeks [ahead].”

At Lunar Cycles repair shop in north London, the mechanic says trade was booming, then ended the call to avoid upsetting the socially-distanced queue outside.

Andrew Hassard from Mango Bikes in Ballyclare, Northern Ireland, said: “The bicycle industry is having a boom. People are saying ‘I’m getting back on a bike after 15-20 years – I’m going to use it during lockdown – then commute on it as well,’ to avoid public transport.”

A recent poll for the consultants SYSTRA suggested 61% of Britons are nervous of taking public transport post-lockdown.

Adrian Warren who runs an alliance of cycle schemes, told the BBC: “This past six weeks, we have seen the biggest experiment in transport policy this country has even known. It’s clear the default option is cycling.”