Wendy Carlson for The New York Times
Who would have thought that cyclists were fair weather friends and that that bike sales would drop over winter? Many bike shops laid in extra cold weather gear, expecting "legions of new bike commuters." But the recession, cheap gas and the traditional sales pattern for bikes have conspired to make it a hard winter.
According to the New York Times, bike industry analysts say that what bike shop owners perceived as a commuter trend was probably not.
Graphic from New York Times
The analysts argued that bicycle commuters were generally a fixed group. These riders account for less than 1 percent of commuters in the United States; in isolated pockets like Portland, they might account for about 6 percent.
Mr. Townley [a bike analyst] is even more skeptical now, predicting a flat to slightly down year for small bicycle stores. Declining gas prices are one reason. He also cited major price increases in bicycles and accessories resulting from the rising cost of materials and shipping — 98 percent of bicycles are manufactured overseas — which cut into profits. He said data showed that wholesale sales of new bicycles to shops for the first nine months of the year were down more than 4 percent.
"More people riding bikes has not translated into any improvement in bike business," he said.
Bike shop owners, like all small businesspeople perpetual optimists, disagree.
"I don't think any of us are fools that $1.89-a-gallon gasoline is really going to be the way it will be from here on out," said Fred Clements, executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association. "I don't want to appear to be too bullish, but some of the longer term trends — how we get out of an economic recession like this — don't necessarily put bicycles in a bad spot. Bicycles are part of a solution to the problem."
More in New York Times
More in TreeHugger on Bike Sales:
Higher Fuel Prices Increase Bicycle Sales (And Bike Sharing?)
Updated Bicycle Stats for Bike Month
On Bicycle Commuting:
Extreme Bicycle Commuting in New York City
Commute to Work by Bike
Find Safe, Easy Routes to Travel by Bike