New York Suffering From Bike Shortage

Customers check out the selection at Bicycle Habitat in SoHo

The Sun has a pretty amazing story today about New York bike shops. It seems they’re running out of stock as demand for bikes increases across the country.

High gas prices are causing spot shortages of bikes in New York City, as commuters turn to pedal power.

Many of these new cyclists are from areas not commonly associated with the "Bike Belt" – neighborhoods such as the Upper West Side and Williamsburg in Brooklyn – but are instead from Queens and other places where driving to work has long been common and affordable. With gas costing nearly $4 a gallon, these commuters are switching to bikes, leaving some stores short on fashionable brands and preferred colors.

The owner of Dixon’s Bicycle Shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, David Dixon, said that over Memorial Day weekend, his store sold all 25 of its Jamis hybrid bikes – a cross between a racing bike and a mountain bike that sells for between $285 and $335 and is favored among commuters. Early this week, Mr. Dixon called Jamis to order about 50 more bikes and was told that a shipment wouldn’t arrive until the end of the week. "They’re all gone. It’s wicked," Mr. Dixon said. "This isn’t usual at all. The price of gas is affecting everyone."

"We ended up selling very heavily," the owner of Bicycle Habitat in SoHo, Charles McCorkell, said. "I thought there would be a shortage."

And all this without any desperate, destructive gimmicks to unload inventory.

Bike month, indeed.

Photo: richdrogpa / Flickr 

  • I’m loving the price of oil more with each passing day.

    The big question is, when will local politicos wise up, and stop biasing public transit in favor of cars? (Yeah, not holding my breath.)

  • bikebrat2010

    wow that’s really amazing. hopefully the market will adjust and more bike shops will open! remember: every new bike is one less potential car!

    on a side not, is it true that Mark Gorton owns or used to own an SUV? the wingnuts seemed to have stumbled across a 2007 article in Bloomberg that says he owns a Toyota 4-Runner

  • vnm

    So how does the Sun define the Bike Belt?

  • Larry Littlefield

    People aren’t getting bikes because of gas prices in Park Slope. What is probably going on is a diffusion effect.

    As more people commute by bike, more people know someone who commutes by bike, who can tell them how fun it is and how it isn’t as hard as one might think. That increases exponentially as bicycle riding breaks out of “bikers” as a subgroup.

    Meanwhile, the quality of transit service is going to be going down and down, as the MTA has admitted.

    Espeically since the same money from taxes on the rich CP opponents counted as a CP replacement is also being counted for everything else, and not likely to arrive at the MTA.

  • Jason A

    “Meanwhile, the quality of transit service is going to be going down and down, as the MTA has admitted.”

    This is the big reason why I ride a bike.

    No one talks about it, but I suspect this is going to have a huge influence on the future of cycling. The delays, the overcrowding, the headaches are not going away – they’re only going to get worse.

    The defeat of congestion pricing will now hasten this process.

    Everyone points to health and environmental benefits of bikes (which are great!), but it’s a sluggish, struggling transit system which is ultimately going to drive the popularity of cycling.

  • mikez

    The continuing advancements in building out the bike infrastructure certainly helps draw attention to biking and helps make it more welcoming. I’ve been seeing a lot more bikes on the streets of Brooklyn.

  • gecko

    Encouraging. Let’s hope that at least some local transportation departments and government officials do what they can to accelerate this welcome trend.

  • jmc

    Bikebrat, I don’t see your point. Plenty of Streetsblog people own cars. I own a car, an older Golf, and I use it when I go out of the city into the countryside or to suburbs and boroughs that are hard for me to access by public transportation (I live in the Bronx… I’m hardly a member of the moneyed elite). I don’t illegally park it and I don’t use it to commute. I also believe that the era of personal automobile use is coming to and end and we need to build our cities around walking, transit, and biking. It makes it a more pleasant place to live and it’s environmentally efficient as well. Also, walking and biking are good for public health. I see no contradiction in owning a car and arguing to build better trains to the neighborhood. In fact, I wish I could get rid of the car, and I look forward to eventually moving to a more accessible neighborhood.

  • Glenn

    Nothing wrong with owning a car – it’s how you use it. Use it only as needed, keep it running for as many years as possible and put as few miles on it as possible. If we lived in Copenhagen or Amsterdam and fast trains connected us to every little town or village in a 100 mile radius, there would be no need for a car.

    Zipcar’s a good alternative, but if you already own, just use it sparingly and make it last as long as possible.

  • sam

    This weekend in particular, it was probably also the weather. I have a bike, but it’s essentially been in cold storage all winter, but it was so nice out this weekend that I went to Toga on Sunday to get some parts, spent the afternoon giving it a tuneup, and took it out for a ride on Monday (for the first time in probably 2 years – to be fair, I was living out of the country for part of that time).

    It was really nice.

    Of course, now I’m attempting to petition my midtown office building management to install a bike rack, since there isn’t one on the entire block where my office is. I live close enough to walk (20 blocks), but the bike will get me there faster.

  • VIrtual Person

    A whole lot of this has to do with the supply chain as well as increased demand in the USA.

    China has been churning out bikes that do not meet manufacturing specifications and Taiwan is picking up the slack, but delaying delivery on new orders due to increased production of existing orders and not only to the USA, but worldwide.

    Existing inventories were low going in to 2008, and the way product is sold to dealers undoubtedly has an effect on distribution and inventories.

    My first new bike in decades (I buy good quality used bikes and adapt them for my needs as retailers don’t sell any like them) is a custom built USA-made frame. Due to demand there will be delays, too.

    Tip: Get a Schwinn/Dorel Coffee/Cream model if you can.

    Best wishes,

    “Ride it like you’d drive it.”


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