Bike shops stay open as essential business

Published: Mar. 27, 2020 at 8:14 PM EDT
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When local bike shops decided to stay open during the stay-at-home order, many received backlash on social media. But for people who use their bikes to get around, the stores are absolutely essential.

"People do commute on their bikes to and from work," said Jill Wersell, owner of Wersell bikes in Toledo.

Wersell's family has owned the shop for 75 years. She has made some changes recently.

"We are cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning all the time," said Wersell.

She's also added curbside service to keep people outside.

"We've marked our floors for the six feet separation," said Wersell.

Just across town, Toledo Bikes has adopted similar measures.

"Bike shops are as essential as a car mechanic," says Daniel LaCerva of Toledo Bikes. "We're making sure that everyone who enters the shop washes their hands."

And both shops are continuing their community outreach. Wersell recently donated a bike to a newly employed essential worker.

"He actually has transportation because today was his first day at Kroger" said Wersell.

As commuters are trying to avoid public transit, bike rentals in major cities like Chicago are booming. Here in Toledo, our bike sharing program, ToleGo, is experiencing a 235% increase in rental hours over March of last year.

Toledo Bikes lets volunteers work to earn a bike, but the program is limited now to keep the number of people in the shop at a minimum.

The shops are not only open to those who need a bike for commuting.

"I really like riding bikes because it's a great way to get out of the house and have fun and not be cramped up in the house," said Navayda Spark, an eleven-year-old bike rider.

"There's no good reason you have to spend this entire quarantine locked up in your house binge watching Netflix," says LaCerva.

"You can't really go anywhere, you might as well just ride your bike," says Spark.