While UK bike shops have been OK’d by the government to continue to operate during the coronavirus lockdown, not all other nations have followed that thinking.
Multiple bicycle associations, from North America’s People for Bikes to Russia’s NADBM have issued a joint statement, calling on governments worldwide to allow bicycle repair services to continue.
Under the banner of the WBIA (The World Bicycle Industry Association), the member organisations said that the use of bicycles and pedal assisted e-Bikes should be encouraged, always with “total respect for official public health protection rules”.
The WBIA noted that while on bicycles, people can easily keep the required distance for avoiding infections and are much less likely to touch potentially contaminated objects in public spaces. The WBIA also pointed out that regular, physical activity like cycling helps to keep the cardiovascular system and the lungs healthy, preventing diseases and protecting the body from infections: “Therefore, it is important that people can continue cycling throughout the crisis and are able to find help in case they need to have their bike repaired.”
In some countries bicycle repair shops are not allowed to open, even when they could do so in a way that minimises risks of infection, so said the WBIA.
Erhard Büchel, CONEBI and WBIA President: “Bicycle repair shops provide a basic service to the population and allow for risk-minimising mobility to continue where it is most necessary. Therefore, I deem they would need to stay open during these difficult times, of course in a way that protects the health both of employees and customers.”
Bicycle Association Japan stated: “Now the world is facing a terrible spread of the Coronavirus, times are uncertain affecting our families, friends, customers and everybody around us. Under these uncertain circumstances and with all respect for the public health protection guidelines, BAJ would like to continue promoting the use of bicycles as a sustainable and healthy alternative to other motorized methods of transportation and commuting. Cycling minimizes the risk of infections and is healthy for the human body.”
People for Bikes’ President Tim Blumenthal: “People For Bikes recognizes the unprecedented challenge local, state and federal governments face in managing the spread of COVID-19. Our organization is working to support the bicycle industry in this difficult time by asking governments to consider every bike shop as an “essential business” and to allow bicycling, for transportation or recreation, to continue where appropriate. These decisions will provide many levels of economic relief to businesses. We are encouraged by the number of news stories we’ve read that address the increasingly significant and positive role bikes are playing in our daily lives. Many people are newly discovering how bikes are a great way to get where you need to go and also a wonderful form of recreation. As this occurs, we are doing everything we can to support all riders as well as bike businesses of all sizes and kinds.”
All India Cycle Manufacturers’ Association (AICMA): “We support allowing bicycle repair services to continue throughout the COVID-19 crisis while taking into account the measures put in place by the Indian government. Considering India’s demography, its bicycle usage by millions of underprivileged classes and the current priority to prevent and protect them from COVID-19 having access to bike repair shops is crucial.
The Russian Association for the Development of the Bicycle and Motorcycle Industry (NADBM): “Due to the epidemic situation Moscow decided to start the bike sharing season one month earlier than in the previous years. Based on the experience of other cities worldwide, the availability of bicycles reduces the number of passengers on public transport. Taken the epidemiological situation in consideration, this year bike sharing is more important than ever. In addition, operators will treat bikes with disinfectants and users are also advised to wipe the seat and handlebar with sanitizers.”
European politicians Alessandra Moretti (Italy) and Ismail Ertug (Germany): “First of all, we would like to say that we are deeply sympathetic to all those who have contracted the virus, and their families. We want to be close to them and we admire the work of doctors and nurses across Europe who are providing a courageous service of vital importance to the public health of millions of European citizens.
“While fully respecting the different national travel laws in the Member States of the European Union, we believe that mobility for proven work and need should be addressed – where possible – in ways that allow for greater social distancing such as walking and cycling, noting that public transport presents some additional risks. For this reason, bicycle repair shops, with the necessary and appropriate health precautions, should be able to remain open to allow everyone to ride safely, thus favouring less risk of infection”.
The associations contributing their voices to that call include:
All India Cycle Manufacturers’ Association (AICMA), India, Asia
Bicycle Association Japan (BAJ), Japan, Asia
Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI), Belgium, Europe
Mexican Association of Bicycle Manufacturers, A.C. (ANAFABI), Mexico, North America
People for Bikes (PFB), USA, North America
Russian Association for the Development of the Bicycle and Motorcycle Industry (NADBM), Russia, Asia
Taiwan Bicycle Association (TBA), Taiwan, Republic of China, Asia