Despite the pandemic, bike shops along the Erie Canalway Trail continue to welcome customers and people continue to bicycle, some even more than ever! Thankfully, bike shops are considered essential businesses in New York. In order to accommodate cyclists and keep them riding during the pandemic, bike shops have taken precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their customers and employees, helping people stay active during these unprecedented times.
It’s no secret that bicycling has positive effects on physical and mental health. Exercise boosts endorphins and strengthens cardiovascular health, while fresh air helps clear the mind and boosts mood. During these times of social distancing and staying home, more people are feeling isolated, anxious and missing normal exercise routines. For these reasons, people are seeking opportunities for outdoor recreation and are increasingly depending on its benefits. With warmer weather approaching, the Erie Canalway Trail can expect many self-propelled visitors. Behind the scenes, there are bike shops stepping up to meet this demand with cautionary efforts.
In consideration to the safety of staff and patrons, bike shops offer innovative adaptations to current circumstances. Bike shops have taken similar precautions as other essential businesses such as modifying their hours and requiring face masks in store. Some stores have implemented new operating procedures such as over the phone consultation, limiting the number of customers in the store, and appointment only entry. A popular way bike shops have been able to serve their customers is by offering delivery service and curbside pick up and drop off.
As we look forward to a future without a pandemic, it is imperative to keep in mind how we relied on essential businesses and the actions they took. It demonstrates how small changes to how a business operates can be impactful. This principle can be applied to businesses becoming more amenable to bicyclists. Many businesses think that becoming more bike friendly requires expensive and timely additions but, it only takes a commitment to innovation and offering simple services. The Bike Friendly New York program recognizes establishments along the Erie Canalway Trail that offer simple (but significant) ways to welcome bicyclists. As the program suggests, being ‘bike friendly’ is not a yes or no matter, it is an extent that any business can further with modest enhancements.
It is also critical to reflect on how important bicycling was during this time. Bicycling is increasingly becoming more popular and the way more people choose to commute; this means more visitors and customers will be bicyclists. Communities and businesses becoming more receptive to the needs of bicyclists benefits everyone. Being bicycle friendly is not a convenience to a small group – it’s an expansion that welcomes a broad and diverse base of patrons. As we have seen from COVID-19, even bicycle retailers can find new ways to better assist an influx of these specific, eager customers.