Marin County cyclists and shop owners have seen a resurgence of bicycling during the shelter-in-place period as people take advantage of sparsely driven roads and seek a brief getaway from the cloistered confines of their homes.

Cycling advocates say the changing behaviors present a rare opportunity to make slow roads or car-free roads a new normal when communities reopen.

“People are really loving it,” said Marin County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Tarrell Kullaway. “Kids are able to go out on these areas that they’ve never gone on before. People who said they are afraid to ride on the roads are now able to get out there.”

Several local bike shop owners and employees say they are booked out for weeks or months on new orders and repairs.

While some of the long waits are due to increased shipping demands and available employees, shop owners say the customer demand is higher than even before the coronavirus pandemic began.

Sunshine Bicycle Center in Fairfax has sold out of more of its affordable models through the end of the year, said employee Alec Levy-O’Brien. Repair orders have been backlogged since March as people dust off bikes that had been neglected in garages or sheds.

“We’re still booking two weeks out on repairs, which is extremely unusual,” Levy-O’Brien said.

Ken Martin, CEO of the Bay Area-based Mike’s Bikes, said it’s been a challenge to keep up with the demand, but said it’s a good problem to have, especially in tough economic times.

“The hope among the cycling community is this shift that we’ve seen over the past couple months will stick,” Martin said, “and, as millions of people have rediscovered cycling, that they’ll stick with it after COVID is behind us.”

The Larkspur- and San Francisco-based electric bike vendor The New Wheel has never been as busy as during the pandemic, said co-owner Brett Thurber. New bike orders are booked a month out, which is in part due to staffing limitations to build the bikes.

“Everyone wants a bike and they want it as soon as possible,” Thurber said.

Where it used to take more time for people to consider a more expensive e-bike purchase, Thurber said travel restrictions and closures caused by the pandemic has led to some people having more spending money.

Aside from sales anecdotes, there is data showing a recent surge in bicycle use, at least between Marin County and the East Bay.

Cyclist crossings on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge bike path in May were the second-highest monthly counts since the path opened in November.

May weekdays averaged about 275 cyclist trips per day while weekends averaged at about 619 trips per day, according to data collected by automatic counters on the path. These numbers are nearly double if not more than double the average crossings recorded in preceding months. The weekend of May 22 and 23 recorded about 1,700 total crossings, more than was recorded for the entire first half of April.

Local cities and towns are already considering closing some streets or removing street parking to give struggling restaurants and retailers space to do business amid the pandemic.

“Our message to those cities is lets partner and lets make sure people feel safe walking and biking to these downtown areas so they can support these local businesses,” said Bjorn Griepenburg, Marin County Bicycle Coalition policy and planning director.

The bike coalition has started a campaign and petition calling on local governments to designate some roads as car-free more periodically.

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