LEWISBURG — Business at Earl’s Bicycle Store in East Buffalo Township, near Lewisburg, has increased, year-to-date, by more than 100 percent over last year, said owner Earl Rissler.

“We’ve seen a lot of traffic,” he said Friday morning. “More families and couples doing stuff together than we have seen in other years, especially with the Rail Trail right here by the shop.” 

Another reason for the business surge has been the need for bicycle repairs.

“People have been pulling their old bikes out of their garage and basements,” he said. “These bikes haven’t been used in years and they want them serviced. They want to start riding again.”

Earl’s surge in business is similar to reports from around the country, according to an April survey of 1,000 Americans by manufacturer Trek Bicycle, one of the the largest-selling brands in the U.S., and researcher Engine Insights.

As Americans across the country are facing extended social distancing orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are turning to cycling as a means of achieving mental and physical health, the research found.

Another key finding said that of Americans who own a bike, 21 percent of them have been riding more since the COVID-19 pandemic. This can be traced back to a need for less public and crowded forms of transportation, a need for exercise, or just a plain old desire to have a bit of fun while adhering to social distancing in an otherwise stressful time, the survey indicated.

Study findings also reveal that cycling’s popularity is likely to prevail, with half of Americans (50 percent) planning to ride their bike more after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Dave Staebler, of New Columbia has been riding alone more than 30 miles once or twice a week, “not unlike my usual, but always alone,” he said on Friday. 

“Some of the people I know, and have ridden with often in the past, have started riding in small groups still keeping their distance though. definitely not like before  COVID-19,” Staebler said

“I’m not ready for that yet.  Closer to Lewisburg, I do see a lot of others riding, more then usual, and even out in the country where I live, in the western part of White Deer Township, there are many people walking — something I rarely saw before.” 

There are a variety of other reasons for the increase in cycling within the Middle Susquehanna region and across the country, suggested Corey Ellison, executive director, Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, agreeing with the survey’s findings.

“Amid stay-at-home orders, school disruptions, gym closings, and the cancellation of many events people, especially families with young children, are looking for lockdown-friendly ways to keep everyone entertained and healthy. Cycling, along with other outdoor recreation opportunities such as walking and paddling, have long provided an outlet for residents and with COVID-19 restrictions in place we are seeing more and more people rediscover these avenues of adventure.” 

New and returning cyclists are also noticing a different riding environment when they venture out, Ellison said.

“A reduction of street traffic is opening up new routes and improving the riding experience along tried and true courses.

This helps to facilitate close to home cycling among all ages and ability levels. Combine that availability of opportunity with the fact that bicycle shops were designated as essential businesses by federal, state, and local officials, and cyclists have every reason to get out and enjoy a ride within the Susquehanna Greenway.”

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