By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
As the coronavirus rages on and people continue to avoid public transport but still stay mobile, bicycle shops across the country have reported waves of new sales, with some stores seeing customers willing to line up around the block for hours on end to grab their new set of wheels.
Indeed, while many retailers are suffering trade collapses thanks to the virus, others are becoming overwhelmed by demand.
The bicycle industry is one of those.
Around the nation, bicycle retailers and repair shops have welcomed the opportunity to continue trading during the lockdown after the government deemed them an essential service beside supermarkets and pharmacies.
With people wanting to jump back on their bikes whether for a sense of independence, as a new way to get active or simply to avoid using public transport, bicycle retailers are now experiencing a sudden boom in sales, seeing a healthy outcome from the Coronavirus crisis.
The Case of Retailer “99 Bikes” in Bondi Junction
In Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, bicycle shop 99 Bikes has witnessed a huge surge in bicycle sales during the COVID-19 outbreak, with queues winding out the door over the last several weeks.
Based in Bondi Junction, the queues are partly attributed to social distancing rules, but more significantly, the lockdown restrictions have created a demand for novel ways to exercise and get about.
Speaking to The Australian Financial Review, Bikes 99 sales assistant, Nick Johns, said the last four weeks had been “non-stop”.
“We’ve got people dusting off old bikes, we’ve had a lot of people who have been thinking about getting a bike for a long time who say they may as well do it now,” Mr Johns said.
“We’ve also had a lot of people spending time with their family which is really good to see, buying kids bikes. We’ve even had a few families come into and buy all bikes [for the whole family].”
According to Mr Johns, it was clear to see that families are now spending more time together and more people are getting active.
“They’ve got the choice if they want to get fat and be alcoholics or get fit and love their family, that’s how I see it. Sorry I’m blunt,” he said.
Across Australia, 99 Bikes has 47 stores. The bicycle retailer is jointly-owned by Flight Centre, Graham Turner – who cofounded the Flight Centre travel agency network – and employees.
In order to cope with the increased demand for bicycles arriving with the coronavirus outbreak, the company has employed approximately 50 extra staff.
Of these, about half are staff from Flight Centre who have been stood down.
Complete Guide on the Road Rules for Riding a Bicycle in Australia
As sales kick into a different gear for bicycle stores amid COVID-19 restrictions, so too does the number of cyclists on NSW roads.
And why not?
Riding a bicycle is a safe way to travel given the current climate.
Even better, it’s environmentally friendly and a cheap way to get around.
But what you may not realise is that in recent years, the laws for bicycle riders have reformed around the country and it is actually quite easy to get thumped with a fine.
Here’s what you should know:
In NSW, the Centre for Road Safety advises that a bicycle is considered a vehicle and thus has the same road rules as other motorists on the road. This is also reflected in Rule 15 of the Road Rules 2014.
As such, bicycle riders in the state must obey the road rules. They must stop at red lights and stop signs, give hand signals when changing direction, and give way as indicated by road signs.
A bicycle rider must be astride the rider’s seat facing forwards (unless it’s not built to be ridder astride), and must ride with at least a hand on the handlebars, in addition to ensure that if the bicycle is equipped with a seat, not ride it seated in any other position on the bicycle.
As a rider of a bicycle over 16-years of age, you are not permitted to ride on footpaths that are designated for the use of pedestrians, unless:
- The rider is an adult and is accompanying a child under 16 who’s riding on the footpath and the child’s under the rider’s supervision; or
- The rider’s an adult and is accompanying a child under 16 who’s riding on the footpath under the supervision of an adult and the rider is also under the supervision of the adult; or
- The rider’s a postal worker who’s riding the bicycle in the course of duties as a postal worker; or
- The rider’s carrying a person under 10 as a passenger on the bicycle or in or on a bicycle trailer towed by the bicycle and the bicycle is not a pedicab.
Bicycle riders aged less than 16 are permitted to ride on a footpath unless the footpath specifically prohibits this.
Additionally, paths that are designed for both cyclists and pedestrians will always be signposted, and when riding on a shared footpath, bicycle riders must keep left and ride at a speed suited to the environment.
A bicycle rider is not to cause a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver or pedestrian.
An important one is that a rider of a bicycle is prohibited from riding within 2-metres of the rear of a moving motor vehicle continuously for more than 200 metres. Click here for the law on car drivers keeping a safe distance when passing a bicycle rider.
Finally, an obvious one: bicycle riders on roads and road-related areas must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the head. This applies to all bicycle riders, regardless of age.
A passenger on a bicycle that’s moving or stationary but not parked is also required to wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the head, unless the passenger is a paid passenger on a 3 or 4-wheeled bicycle.
Otherwise, a rider of a bicycle is not allowed to ride with a passenger unless the passenger complies with these rules.
A bicycle rider is not allowed to carry more persons on the bicycle than what it’s designed to carry. Further, any passenger on a bicycle is required to sit in the seat designed for the passenger.
An interesting, but equally important one is the rule that bicycle riders are not allowed to hold onto another vehicle while the vehicle is moving, nor ride on a bicycle that’s being towed by another vehicle.
What About the Right Equipment for Your Bicycle?
According to the RMS, you must ensure your bicycle suits your abilities and is roadworthy before you ride.
Under the NSW Road Rules, there are several essential equipment features that bicycles must have in order to be roadworthy, including the following:
- A bicycle must be fitted with at least one working bell or horn, or a similar warning device in working order, with at least 1 effective brake. (rule 258).
- If riding at night or in hazardous conditions causing less visibility, the bicycle or rider must:
- Display a flashing or steady white light clearly visible for at least 200 metres from the front of the bicycle; and
- A flashing or steady red light clearly visible at least 200m from the back of the bicycle; and
- A red reflector clearly visible for at least 50m from the back of the bicycle when light is projected onto it by a vehicle’s headlight on low-beam.
As for tyres, they should be appropriate to the size of the bicycle and inflated to the pressure they are listed to.
You should have your lights on between sunset and sunrise, as well as in bad weather.
The penalties for disobeying these road rule as a bicycle rider attracts up to $2,200 fine by a court for each breach.
Each breach otherwise attracts an on-the-spot fine from $114 – $344 in addition to the loss of between 2 – up to 5 demerit points depending on the specific breach.