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NYC bike shops designated ‘essential businesses’ exempt from coronavirus shutdown

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 3/22/2020 Ellen Moynihan
a person riding a bicycle on the side of a road © Danny Iudici

New York City will keep on rolling during the coronavirus crisis, with Mayor de Blasio on Sunday designating bike shops essential businesses allowed to remain open as most of the city shuts down.

As the virus continues to spread, more people have been turning to bicycling to avoid the risk of infection on subways and buses and get some exercise with gyms shuttered. But riders were unsure throughout the weekend if the stores would be able to reman open.

“Bikes shops are definitely an essential right now,” said Thomas Robinson, 34, of Harlem, who is making ends meet delivering food by bicycle for Uber Eats. He was working as a cleaner at the Metropolitan Opera and as a trainer at a gym before both shut down last week.

a person standing in front of a building © Ellen Moynihan

“I’m pretty knowledgable about cycles, but if [a repair] is beyond my capacity then I’ll have somebody else with the knowledge do it for me," he said.

At NYC Velo on Second Ave. in the East Village a sign on the door mandated a one-customer-at-a-time policy, instituted earlier in the week. A group of customers waited outside for repairs on Saturday evening.

“I’ve made commitments to my staff first, customers second," said owner Andrew Crooks, 43. “Landlords and vendors are all below that.”

At Meseroll in Williamsburg, owner Andrew York, 31, said the shop is open only by appointment for now.

“I’m not letting anyone in the store,” said York, explaining that he would ship online orders or meet customers outside for pickup.

Tyler Bell was waiting outside King Kog in Williamsburg for an inner tube repair. Sunday He hadn’t ridden a bike in two years but recently found one in nearly new condition in his building.

“I’m just not going on the train at all,” said Bell, 24. “People should stay home for the most part but yeah, it’ll be useful now to get around.”

“We need bicycle repairs for our city to run," Bell added.

Many shops are taking extra precautions.

"We're wiping everything down," said Will Hough, 52, the owner of BikefixNYC in the Lower East Side. "Every time I check somebody out, I spray hand sanitizer."

Hough argued that bicycling is a good fit for social distancing.

“Ultimately, moving by bicycle is safer. You have more distance between and you can still go out and get a workout.”

Transportation Alternatives, a bicycling and pedestrian advocacy group, was glad to hear bike shops will remain open.

“Its clear that riding a bike is one of the most social distancing-compliant ways of getting around so it follows that bike repair shops ought to be considered an essential business,” said Joe Cutrufo, a spokesman for the group. “It’s good to see Mayor de Blasio has caught on.”

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