Bicycles in high demand in Tallahassee as some shops sell out during the pandemic

Published: May. 19, 2020 at 5:31 PM EDT
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 19, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- More people are getting outside during the COVID-19 pandemic, many hoping to ride around on two wheels. The bicycle industry in Tallahassee is overwhelmed with the current demand.

Sales at Bird Legs Bicycles have exploded since March; store manager Kristin Halley says they're seeing record breaking numbers.

The shop had prepared for business to slow down, but the complete opposite happened. Halley says sales have been about 30% above normal since March; she described the family trickle-down effect that the shop has seen.

"Sometimes it would be, they came in one week and got the kids bikes, and a week later they're back; mom needs a bike! And a week later, dad needs a bike now!" said Halley.

Halley says she has about 400 bikes currently on back order; she says entry-level bicycles have been sold out for at least a month.

"And again, I'm expecting things to slow down again, and it's not," said Halley.

The shop is now seeing a large uptick in repairs, as people find old bicycles to use.

One room that usually holds bicycles for sale is now filled with repaired bicycles, ready to go home.

"We have literally only what's on the floor, right now," said Halley.

As interest in bicycling in Tallahassee grows, one group is focused on safety, accessibility, and awareness.

"Especially during COVID-19, cycling is a great way to get outside and be healthy," said Knight Creative Communities Institute Executive Director Betsy Couch.

The KCCI is rolling out its traveling bike rack initiative.

"This is teasing out different trails and amenities that relate to cycling," explained Couch.

Each week, the bike rack travels to a different Leon County trail. The campaign encourages cyclists to find the rack and explore the trail, posting their adventures to social media.

The goals include raising awareness of the cycling trails and sending a message that Tallahassee and Leon County are bike-friendly communities. The first person to guess the bike rack's location each week will receive a Higher Ground gift card.

KCCI's Community Survey found that residents want to see more bicycle amenities; some respondents who suggested that option didn't even own bikes themselves.

"Our team is looking forward at how we can create some educational, safety related bike parks throughout Leon County," said Couch.

With KCCI focused on supporting bicyclists, riders are getting back to the basics, repairing old reliables.

"We're seeing bikes that have been in garages for 10 years, and they're pulling it out for the first time, wanting to clean it up, getting it ride-able again," said Halley.

Halley says the shop is starting to see a trickle of new bicycles arriving; some are estimated to be in the store as early as next week, but others could be as late as November.