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TTB in Charlotte Observer
05/21/20 at 5:32pm
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Robert C.
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Re: TTB in Charlotte Observer
Reply #1 - 05/21/20 at 8:55pm
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Re: TTB in Charlotte Observer
Reply #2 - 05/22/20 at 12:59pm
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CORONAVIRUS
Charlotte bike sales ‘utterly crazy’ as weary riders seek coronavirus relief outdoors

Weekend weather brings out people to greenways

Beautiful weekend weather brings out crowds on greenways, but social distancing was a challenge .

With schools closed, many businesses still shuttered and families locked down at home, Charlotteans are seeking relief from the coronavirus pandemic aboard bicycles.

U.S. sales of adult leisure bikes were up 121% in March compared to a year earlier, while children’s and off-road BMX bikes rose 56%, the data analysis firm NPD Group reported this month.

“It’s been utterly crazy the last six weeks around here,” said Chris Sheehan, owner of Charlotte’s Uptown Cycles.


Even with customers limited to curbside shopping, he said, sales have tripled from a year ago.

New bikes go out as fast as they can be assembled. Online sales, which had been negligible, are racking up 10-plus orders a day. The service shop is swamped.

“These are cyclists we haven’t seen before,” Sheehan said. “I would say 70% to 80% are people pulling bikes out of their garages. They maybe haven’t ridden in five-plus years but want to get them serviced and ride the greenways with their families. It’s the one that you can do that allows social distancing.”


U.S. sales of some bike types rose 121% in March, a data analysis firm says. Charlotte is seeing similar trends. Grant Baldwin Photography/Courtesy of Sustain Charlotte CHARLOTTEFIVE


Customers with no bike to fix up are buying new ones, he said. Hybrid bikes that cost $450 to $700 have been most popular, unlike high-end models that can cost thousands of dollars. The NPD Group also found the largest jump in sales among less expensive bikes.

Uptown Cycles, along with its sister stores, the Spirited Cyclist in Davidson and Huntersville, and a fourth store in Statesville share a warehouse to stay stocked.

‘REDISCOVERING THEIR CHILDHOOD’
Brian Doolittle, owner of Charlotte Cycles, which is also offering sales and service by appointment only, said customers who are tired of walking or jogging see bikes as a good alternative.

“More people are thinking about taking short trips on bikes,” he said. “There’s less traffic, but also some protected shared spaces that people are seeing, and they’re liking that. People that have had bikes but haven’t had the confidence to venture out on the streets, we see them ride up to the shop and take short rides.”

BikeWalkNC, an advocacy group that fought for N.C. bike shops to be deemed essential businesses during the outbreak, says bike riders have reclaimed their “free range” selves.

“What we’re seeing is less about people riding in a group as a social event than people getting out as families, exploring trails and greenways and places that were often ignored because motor vehicles couldn’t go there,” said executive director Terry Lansdell. “People are rediscovering their childhood and nature.”

SAFETY INITIATIVES
Lansdell said he hopes policy makers will use the renewed interest to regard bikes as real transportation and make roads safer for them, such as by adding bike lanes or separate facilities.

Shared_Streets_Bikes.jpg
Streets in Myers Park are closed to thru traffic as part of Charlotte’s Shared Streets program. Alex Cason CHARLOTTEFIVE
Charlotte is two years into a five-year initiative to reduce traffic deaths, including among pedestrians and bikers. Last year it started work on protected bike lanes on The Plaza and finished the first phase of an uptown cycle track that will eventually connect the Little Sugar Creek and Irwin Creek greenways.

Last December, the city began testing a bus/bike-only lane on East Fourth Street uptown near the transit center.

This month, the city launched a “shared streets” program to temporarily designate streets for walking, biking, skateboarding and rollerblading. Through traffic won’t be allowed, but local residents can still use them by car.

Three shared streets opened May 9: McClintock Road from The Plaza to Morningside Drive; Romany Road from Myrtle Avenue to Kenilworth Avenue; and Jameston Drive- Irby Drive-Westfield Road from Freedom Park to Brandywine Road. More streets may be designated in the future.

Sheehan and other enthusiasts hope the spike in sales will lead to public demand for more safe places to ride in Charlotte.

“Hopefully it will bring a new group of people to cycling,” he said. “The virus is horrible, but some good things could come out of it.”

WHERE TO RIDE:
Charlotte Cycling Guide by the Charlotte Department of Transportation

Charlotte area bike map by Charlotte Center City Partners

Mecklenburg County Greenways

Charlotte Family Biking Guide by Sustain Charlotte

The Carolina Thread Trail

The Cross Charlotte Trail

Tarheel Trailblazers mountain bike club


U.S. sales of some bike types rose 121% in March, a data analysis firm says. Charlotte is seeing similar trends.
  
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