Bicycles appeal to people of all ages. They can be a fun hobby, a mode of transportation, and even a career. Around the globe, people have been using bikes to commute, stay fit, and in competition for centuries.
Many cities in the United States have created bike paths, cycling-only lanes on their roads, and bike-friendly spaces to park your aluminum, steel, or carbon steed while going about your daily activities like work, shopping, or other errands.
Countries like Norway have long-distance cycling networks so you can access most of the country on a bike without having to ride on highways and compete with automobile traffic. Germany built a 62-mile cycling highway that is completely car-free.
It’s no wonder cycling is a popular pastime for millions of people. The numerous health and community benefits it offers appeal to people of all ages.
According to Bicycling cycling is an accessible way to exercise and greatly improve your health. Children, teens, even the disabled on specially designed bikes can benefit from cycling.
- It is a low-impact way to exercise
- There are dozens of style of bikes for every kind of rider
- It is less expensive than driving a car or taking public transit
- Bikes are relatively easy to maintain, much more so than a motor vehicle
- Bikes can be easily stored even in small apartments
- Bikes do less damage to trails, paths and roads than automobiles
- The cycling community is huge, with one right for everybody- kids, athletes, seniors citizens
Coronavirus & Cycling
While cycling has always been a popular activity in the U.S. its popularity surged during the shelter-in-place orders issued in 2020 due to the COVID-19 virus. It was considered a fairly safe outdoor activity with a low risk of transmitting the virus with the proper precautions.
Cycling also served as a much-needed boredom buster for people stuck at home and was a means of getting around for those wary of using crowded public transportation. Cycling also offered a way to stay fit when gyms, pools, and other recreational fitness businesses closed their doors.
“Cycling traffic after the pandemic began in 2020 increased by 50% from the same time the previous year in New York City and that several metro areas modified traffic patterns, and opened more miles of roads to accommodate bikers and pedestrians,” according to a U.S. Census Bureau report.
Global Bike Shortage
The world’s love of cycling as it attempts to emerge from a pandemic has led to a global bike shortage. Increased consumer demand paired with supply chains slowed by the pandemic mean fewer bikes to go around.
The majority of the bikes bought in America are made in China and other Asian countries. With the U.S. and China tariff wars, factories around the world shutting down due to the pandemic and the increased demand for bicycles, many bike manufacturers cannot clear the backlog of orders, let alone fulfill new ones. If you are looking for a new bike, be prepared to wait a while and pay a premium. With demand up and supply low, prices are up too.
If you are open to a gently used bicycle, consider:
- Neighborhood garage sales
Before you buy a used bike do a little research.
Find out what size of bike is right for you. Your local bike shop can help you determine what size frame will best fit you.
Decide how and where you plan to ride the bike the majority of the time. Will it be on paved trails and roads? Then a road bike will fit the bill.
Do you plan to ride on groomed dirt trails or take it into the mountains? Then you will need a mountain bike.
If you plan to ride around pulling a kid behind you a hybrid bike might be a good choice. They are not as lightweight as a road bike but not as heavy as a mountain bike. They offer plenty of gears for easy pedaling but are sturdy enough to pull your kiddo (or dog) in a bike trailer. You can easily transition between paved and dirt/gravel roads, trails, and paths with a hybrid bike too.
If you are a competitive cyclist or triathlete, turn to your community to find a new-to-you bike. There will surely be someone in your tri club who finally got their new Trek or Cervelo and is looking to sell their current racing bike.
Bikes and Bitcoin
While bicycles have gone up in price if you can get one, there is encouraging news about bicycle manufacturers accepting cryptocurrencies as payment.
Temple Cycles claims to be the first bike manufacturer to begin accepting bitcoin for bikes back in 2017.
The founder of Temple Cycles, Matt Mears says:
“The bike industry is one of the most backward and old-fashioned setups around. Most manufacturers sell to national distributors, who then sell on to local shops, all of which take their cut and raise the final price for the customer. We believe that the industry needs to start offering better value for money and is due for a big shake-up, so using a direct-to-customer model and accepting bitcoin is our way of making that known.”
Since then other bike manufacturers have begun accepting bitcoin payments for new bikes. Consumers order the bikes directly from the manufacturer, and by doing so, are cutting out the middle-man mark-ups added to the price of your new wheels from a local bike shop or online retailer. Using a cryptocurrency to purchase a new bike means you don’t need to worry about converting pesos to Euros or dollars either.
If you jumped on the bike bandwagon or plan to, getting started is fairly easy. You should never ride your bike without a helmet and be sure to have the appropriate size and kind of bike for the best riding experience. Learning how to share the road or bike path is important as well as common cycling signals for turning or road hazards. Local bike shops offer this kind of info, you can find how-tos all over the internet and your state may even offer a cycling safety, rules of the road handbook.
Cycling is a great activity for individuals, couples, groups of friends, and families. Bike clubs abound along with charity rides and races to enjoy your bike with. Cities and suburbs across the country are adding bike lanes, budgeting for new or extended bike trails, and creating space for bikes in community gathering spots. Encouraging cycling reduces traffic congestion and pollution and can mean better health for those who are ready to ride.