Coronavirus: Bike sales surge as commuters search for ‘new, isolated’ travel

The UK’s bicycle industry says it has seen an “enormous” increase in the use and sale of bikes during the coronavirus lockdown. 

National and local retailers in the UK say they have seen a rise in orders both for leisure and from those looking for a new, more isolated way to commute.

Chair of the Bicycle Association Phillip Darnton told Sky News the rise started shortly after the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions came into force in late March.

“There’s been an enormous increase in the use and sales of bicycles – particularly from the middle of April,” he said.

“The streets themselves have become very quiet. The amount of motor traffic is down by around 90% and that being the case the roads are much safer. The one thing we’ve learnt over the years, those who are not experienced cyclists are not going to get on the road on a bicycle unless it looks and feels safe.”

The increase in cycling can be seen in retail sales.

Although it is too early for industry-wide figures, Halfords, which sells around a quarter of bicycles in the UK, says it has seen sales soar.

Keith Jones, the chain’s chief operating officer, said: “We’ve seen significant growth in sales through the cycle-to-work scheme – perhaps not surprising as consumers look for alternatives to public transport. We’ve seen increases in sales to women and to small children, suggesting families are cycling for leisure and exercise.”

Temple Cycles in Bristol is an independent bike maker which also has a store in London.

Its founder Matthew Mears says he’s seen a big spike in online traffic and sales since lockdown began.

“Normally this is a busy time of year anyway – spring time – so we’d expect growth. But we are seeing a 30 to 40% increase,” he told Sky News.

“I think people are realising how fun cycling is – they’re using it to get around for their leisure. Lots of people are working from home or are furloughed and want something to do. The weather is really nice – great for cycling – and less cars on roads, lots of cities closing off their streets, so it just makes the environment for cycling really nice.”

The boom comes after the government revealed a £250m emergency active travel fund for cycling and walking initiatives, such as pop-up bike lanes, wider pavements and safer junctions.

The money is the first part of a £5bn package announced in February.

But as the lockdown continues to ease, and with more cars returning to the road, there is a worry those newly taking up riding could be put off again.

Mr Darnton said he thinks the cycling and walking package needs to be implemented “very, very quick”.

“If in fact it takes months to do it, all those people who felt good and liked cycling are not going to enjoy that.”

Next week from Monday to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World – a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.

We’ll be joined by some of the biggest names from the worlds of culture, politics, economics, science and technology. And you can take part too.

If you’d like to be in our virtual audience – from your own home – and put questions to the experts, email

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