The bicycle has had a considerable effect on human society, in both the cultural and industrial realms. This human-powered, pedal-driven, 2 wheeler came into existence in the 19th century and by the early 21st century more than 1 billion were in existence. They are the principal means of transportation in many regions. They also provide a popular form of recreation and have been adapted for use as children's toys, general fitness, military and police applications, courier services, bicycle racing, and bicycle stunts. Although cycles were in use at all times with the increasing use of other modes of transport, the bicycles had taken a back seat. But who would have guessed that with the onset of a terrible pandemic the modest bicycle would rise back to enormous significance in the span of just a few months, And now once again, it is gaining its popularity as means of no contact, safe commute for daily travel to office and back, or even just to enhance the fitness level by adopting a healthy lifestyle making cycling a part of the daily regime.
Not only are we seeing an outburst in bicycle sales with retailers coping up to the increasing demands, but repair shops are also seeing a surge in the number of people bringing their old bicycles for a revamp. Whether it is people trying to be healthy, environmentally friendly, or save money by ditching the car during the recession, it seems that more and more are getting on their bikes. The long term trends point to a bright future for bike shops. Krishnasamy Devraj, the director, Cycle World, which has 17 showrooms across the city, said that there was at least a 20-25% rise in sales in almost all the showrooms. “Compared to June 2019, we had a 300% increase in sales this June. As of now, the demand is outstripping supply. It will continue to be high for at least another six months. Adult and premier bicycles are seeing huge demand and there are more takers for electric bikes too. Many are using these two-wheelers to commute to work,” he said.
India is the second-largest manufacturer of bicycles in the world, with 12 million units annually.
But it looks like this number needs to increase a couple of folds to meet the present demand. The situation points to the fact that cycles are here to stay for a longer time than anticipated. With the introduction of e-bikes, people are more likely to get drawn towards taking up cycling as their primary mode of transportation for traveling to work or for just running personal errands. Cycling as a habit and daily routine is definitely a win-win scenario for anyone considering the huge list of health benefits in store.
There has been a steady rise in bicycle sales in Bengaluru from May. | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain
Cycles are no more a poor man’s ride. Many cycle repair shops have their days packed with people coming from all walks of life. Venkatesh. K.B., who owns a bike repair shop in K. R Puram, said that there has been a surge in demand for spare parts and cycle pumps, apart from repair requests. “I have been in the business for over three decades and I have never seen such enthusiasm for cycles,” he said. Indeed, even the interest for rental bicycles are on an ascent. The response for the bikes deployed posts the lockdown has been extremely overwhelming. People have even begun using rental bikes for grocery shopping.
This new era of cycling is additionally observing a surge in the manner, individuals want to invest their leisure time and outings. A consistent increment in the inquiries about bicycle tours and rallies is proof of this reality. Cycling clubs and cycling groups are the trending hotspots nowadays.
From fitness to social distancing, perhaps it is time to celebrate the humble bicycle’s new incarnation as an eco-friendly, groovy, trendy or classy, fitness machine that is also the best zero contact means of transport in these epidemic times.