Amid pandemic, cycling experiencing resurgence

Open Road Bicycles in Avondale has been busier than usual since schools and businesses began altering the way they operate in the face of the coronavirus. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While many local businesses have taken a hit during the coronavirus slowdown, some industries are busier than ever. There is healthcare, of course, but the cycling industry is experiencing a renaissance since schools and businesses started closing or changing the way they work.

Just drive around town. You are bound to see people — often, families — pedaling their way through residential streets.

“We’re seeing a lot more families out there, riding bikes, coming together, enjoying being outside,” Holt Tucker, owner of Open Road Bicycles of Avondale said. “We’ve been seeing a huge number of kids on bikes. Throughout the day we’ll count and see 40-plus people riding bikes.”

Tucker says business at his store on St. Johns Ave. has been brisk over the past several weeks.

“We’ve seen a real increase of service coming through our doors as well as people coming to buy new bikes,” Tucker said. “We’ve seen a huge increase. A lot of our neighborhood bikes, kids’ bikes. Not really a lot of road bikes or high-end mountain bikes, but a lot of family bikes. A lot of people are saying, this is what’s saving the biking industry — people getting back outside and connecting with nature.”

With the increased time most kids spend on screens, parents seem to be taking advantage of more free time to get out and be active with the family.

“A lot of the families we’re seeing are working from home or they are not working and so they have that time to go out and enjoy outside,” Tucker said. “It’s a great time to reconnect with your bicycle. There are fewer cars out there. It’s the perfect time. The weather is great for it right now. The days are a lot longer. Go through the neighborhoods.”

For longtime cyclists, especially those who routinely partake in group rides, things have changed. Smaller groups are riding together. And when they do, they are careful to avoid activities that could spread germs, including the coronavirus.

“We have done some social distancing with all of that,” Tucker said. “We are keeping the numbers down to 10 or less people and following the rules and guidelines. Not using each other’s water bottles, respecting other riders and keeping distances. We’ve stopped our group rides out of here. We want to make sure everyone stays healthy. For the safety of everyone here, we’ve decided to stop the group rides for the time being.”

With all of that being said, when done correctly, getting on a bike is a great way to break up the day, stay active and still remain safe and healthy.

“Enjoy it. Go outside. It’s a great time to reconnect with your bicycle,” Tucker said. There are fewer cars out there. It’s the perfect time. The weather is great for it right now. The days are a lot longer. Go through the neighborhoods.”

About the Author:

Cole joined News4Jax full-time in January 2017, but he has been a part of the team since he began filling in as a sports anchor in 2005.