At Bicycle Renaissance on the Upper West Side, all bikes with flat handle bars are sold out, and the 22 bikes on order have holds on them already. At Bicycle Habitat in Chelsea, one of the employees is now a de facto bouncer, doing crowd control to ensure there are no more than two people in the store at once.

Bike shops contacted across the city report sales are double what they’d normally be for this time of year. With gyms closed, and so many people avoiding public transit, the time to cycle, apparently, is now.

“I’ve never seen a run on bicycles like this since 9/11,” said Robert Lara, manager of Bicycle Renaissance.

“We’ve been doing daily orders to have bikes in relatively quickly,” Matt Bigler, manager at Bicycle Habitat, said Thursday. “We normally order once a week. I’ve ordered four times this week. So, yeah, it’s definitely unusual.”

And it’s not just new sales. Shops report people are dusting off their bikes collecting cobwebs in basements and bringing them in for tune-ups. 

“There’s a lot of that, that’s probably the biggest thing we see right now, we’re just trying to get them running as quickly and easily as possible so people can use them,” Bigler said.

At the same time, mechanics are aggressively disinfecting, spraying down bikes with an alcohol spray, and declining when asked to adjust the seats for customers while they are sitting on the bikes.

The Department of Transportation noted weekday bike trips across the East River bridges are up 42 percent this March compared to last March, but this time last year the temperatures were also in the 20s. Compared to March 2017, a more comparable year weather-wise, ridership is on par or slightly lower. 

“Due to COVID-19 public health measures, bike ridership numbers are now down from last week and more in line with March numbers from previous years,” a spokesperson for the DOT said. “We are continuing to review safety measures we can take to close important gaps in the bike network and to keep all roadway users safe. But we are also focused on the health and safety of our workforce, many of whom are now at home or working staggered and rotating shifts.”

Cycling injuries appear to be up by 43 percent this month, as first reported by Streetsblog, but, again, there are also more cyclists on the road this year, compared to last year.

Bike advocates said they want to use this time to hammer home the need for more and better bike lanes.

"We know the demand is there, and now the need for social-distancing-compliant transportation is shining a spotlight on it. But huge swaths of New York City have no safe, dedicated routes for cycling,” said Joe Cutrufo, director of communications for Transportation Alternatives. “It's up to Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Transportation to follow the lead of cities like Bogota and Mexico City where they're setting up temporary bikeways to make sure their growing cycling populations can get where they're going—and get there safely."

Peter Kocher, owner of Ride Brooklyn, also called on the authorities to include bike shops as “essential business,” following Philadelphia’s example, to ensure they can stay open when other workplaces have to close. He said a woman who works in a dialysis center and bought a bike last week told him people would die if she couldn’t get to work. 

“Maybe we are an essential business because there are still a lot of people that have to get to work,” he said, adding, “there are a lot of people who are normally Citi Bike riders who aren’t riding a Citi Bike bike because they don’t know who rode it before they did.”