200% increase in bike sales? Another FALSE narrative or fact?
Lets dive into this a little deeper and see.
There is no doubt that bike sales of all kinds have taken off during the Covid-19 pandemic but reports of 200% increases in sales are being used by bad actors to make the case that we need more protected bike lanes for commuters (including one on Melrose Ave).
So, what’s the truth? According to The NPD Group, Inc., an analytics firm that tracks sales, show in March & April of this year that entry level bicycles under $200 are the ones fueling this growth. Stationary bike sales (the ones that are inside your home and don’t go anywhere, have grown by over 270%. But trying to find the actual number of bikes sold is illusive. I can find dollar sales figures that say sales for everything related to bikes, including helmets, accessories, stationery bikes & repairs grew by 75% to $1 billion in the United States compared to 2019. But no statistics for how many commuter bikes were sold in Los Angeles. However, by May, another NPD article shows demand, although still elevated, beginning to slow to 121%. Dirk Sorenson, the sport industry analyst at NPD said “Growth is stemming largely from children’s BMX, and adult leisure bikes that carry a more approachable price-point then some of the more expensive bike styles that were selling well prior to the COVID-19 crises…”
This leads me to think about a line from a movie “If you build it, they will come” is really the only thought being used behind the idea that we need to tear up streets, increase congestion in already overcrowded neighborhoods and install protected bike lanes on Melrose. If you look at Clinton Ave, Rosewood Ave or Waring Ave in the area just south of West Hollywood between La Brea and Fairfax, you can see families bicycling, E-Scooters, joggers, dog walkers, elderly walking and new parents with their strollers all taking advantage of less crowded neighborhood streets. They don’t go to Melrose for these activities and I doubt they ever would even with a protected bike lane. The reason? Why would anyone on a bicycle, who ignores stop signs and treats them simply as if they were suggestions, want to have to yield to a stop light on Melrose placed every 2 or 3 blocks?
To sum this all up, the next time someone tells you we need a protected bike lane on Melrose because bike sales are up 200% or bikes help promote clean air alternatives for commuters, question their motives and anything else they have to say because commuter bike riding simply is not all that’s being pushed on you here. The COVID-19 crisis had much more to do with the increase in bike sales and a families need to get outdoors and recreate together and exercise than the need to ride a bike to work down Melrose Ave. for 1-1/2 hours in the morning and again in the evening during rush hour.