Bicycles have long been a favorite of outdoor workout enthusiasts and big city commuters, but by the end of 2020, bicycles have been in short supply. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large exercise boom occurred in the United States with bicycles being a popular choice for both indoor and outdoor exercise.
In addition to quieter streets, cleaner air, and less traffic, bicycles offer rides the ability to exercise and tour cities in a unique way. After lockdowns kept many workers at home with the inability to travel, bicycles quickly became a way to spend time outside. But how has bicycling changed our communities?
In the beginning months of the pandemic, casual fitness and children’s bikes flew off the shelves, according to market research firm NPD Group Inc. As the spike in casual biking beach faded, higher-priced bicycle categories started to skyrocket. When compared to sales in 2019, sales jumped to a 144% increase in 2020.
But this trend wasn’t limited to outdoor bicycles; indoor bicycles jumped 275% in April 2020. Moving into 2021, bicycles are already sold out online and could be hard to locate in stores. While bicycle production has increased, it could be until 2022 that shortages will end and customers will begin to see bicycles in stock.
A recent bicycle accident study shows traffic deaths among adult cyclists in the United States have tripled since 1975, even when cycling deaths overall have fallen by 17% during the same period. The number of cycling trips taken by bicyclists aged 45 to 64 skyrocketed by 57% from 2001 to 2017, while adults over age 65 took a significant 66% more trips over the same period. In 2017, bicycle fatalities occurred most often among cyclists ages 50 to 54.
Initial reporting from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), states cyclist deaths then hit a ten year high of 871 in 2018 and now estimates show 846 deaths for 2019. While the data for 2020 has yet to be released, with an increase in cyclists, there is a chance of a higher rate of cyclist accidents and fatalities.
With the boom of bicycles on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for drivers and cyclists alike to be aware of bicycle safety and proper bicycle etiquette. “Cyclists have the same legal right to use public roads as motor vehicles,” notes bicycle accident lawyer S. David Rosenthal, “however, motorists often are unaware or do not follow the rules of the road. The result is often deadly.”
As a cyclist, follow proper cycling etiquette by keeping these safety tips in mind:
- Ride with the flow of traffic
- Ride on the road
- Utilize the bike lane, if available
- Watch for right turns
- Be consistent with speed
- Watch for car doors
- Be vigilant of your surroundings
As a driver, follow these tips to help respect and promote safety for cyclists:
- Know bicyclists rights
- Watch for cyclists anytime you turn
- Use appropriate turn signals
- Prevent dooring accidents by looking prior to exiting your car
- Accept that bicyclists are part of the road ecosystem
Navigating a Bicycle Boom
Whether you’ve purchased an outdoor bicycle, rented an indoor bike, or simply shared the road with bicycles, chances are you have experienced the pandemic bicycle boom first-hand.
By being aware of the incredible boom in popularity for bicycles as well as what is expected of cyclists and drivers alike, you can help mitigate the chances of a bicycle accident and keep our communities safe on the road.