A Message for Bicycle Shops in Canada about Cycling and COVID-19

Updated April 15, 2020

We hope that, during this period of significant change and far-ranging impacts to personal and professional life, you, your colleagues and each of your families are coping with these challenging times and keeping well, mentally and physically. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many bike retailers wondering what to do. The purpose of this post is to offer some helpful information. Below you will find information on what we are doing, as well as some helpful resources from others.

In response to COVID-19, Vélo Canada Bikes is: 

  • First and foremost, like most national organizations, we are supporting and sharing the key messages from the Public Health Agency of Canada. That includes urging everyone to stay tuned to the latest information from their relevant local public health authorities and act accordingly.

    The initial message from our government (as of the writing o the article on March 25th) has been clear: stay home; avoid unnecessary movement in your community.
  • We are also reminding everyone that cycling is typically among the healthiest and most efficient forms of independent transportation and that 100000s of Canadians rely on bicycles every day. There are significant public health considerations to consider among the other alternatives available to us, especially driving a car. Therefore, for those who must move within their community, whether it is a doctor or airline pilot, or a non-symptomatic person making a weekly trip to the grocery store for their family, we share the view that cycling is a healthy way for Canadians and their community to move that should be supported and promoted.

    In preparation for challenging times ahead, we are also working on other short and long term solutions by:
  • We are working with partners to share the message that bike shops are essential workplaces, and should be designated as such by health authorities/provincial governments, thereby allowing those shops who wish to be open do so. We feel that bike shops should be viewed similarly to gas stations, car mechanics, grocery stores, airlines, pharmacies, and other businesses that provide an important and valuable public service and whose operations are often exempted from government recommendations to shut down completely. This position aligns with the European Cyclists Federation , the Confederation of European Bicycle Industry, People for Bikes in the US, the Province of Ontario and many of our members

    **March 25 note: As a matter of priority, we are currently working with partners like Velo Quebec and industry members based in Quebec to seek clarification on their recently released list of exempted business types.

    For IBDs in other provinces. Local health authorities may be giving consideration to further lockdowns and closures, if you feel bike shops should be include in the list of essential workplaces near you, it may be worth a proactive step of making a note to your local MLA or MPP to avoid confusion in the future.

    Please note: being designated an essential workplace does NOT mean you must stay open. We support the right of workers and businesses to choose carefully and to decide what is best and to take what they feel are the necessary precautions. We speak for Canadians everywhere by saying we deeply appreciate you in these difficult times.
  • urging for the rapid deployment temporary/permanent protected bike lane networks to fill gaps in Canada cities and allow for safe social distancing while cycling. We believe the public has a right to safely navigate their community at all times. In times of emergency, the bicycle has an extra benefit of offering a reliable foundation of independent mobility when other forms become disrupted. We feel that this strategy could be a cost effective and healthy way of offering safe transport alternatives to people whose public transport systems are operating at reduced capacity, for example. We feel cycling offers a chance to take pressure off of families, and better connectivity means better access to parks and open spaces and room for children to play. Fostering mode shift is also a long term opportunity to reduce the air pollution that contributes to chronic lung diseases which are known risk factors for COVID-19
  • offering opportunities for bicycle retailers to come together as a community to discuss the challenges they are facing and share strategies and ideas. Watch this space for information about the next facilitated, online gathering of independent bicycle dealers and industry allies.
  • finding and sharing resources and news you may find of use. See below

Support and Resources for Businesses: 

  • Business Development Centre Free online webinar

How to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 on your business March 25, 2020 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

Recent Related News:

Changes to small business loan program announced and more businesses are eligible. CBC article.

Ontario, BC, Alberta allow bike shops to remain open. Canadian Cyclist article.

Bike shops in Quebec can fill out this form for to be excused mandatory closure. (Meanwhile, we are still working with allies to update the general prohibition.)

Manitoba is the latest province to mandate COVID-19 closures but deem bike shops critical. See the list.

Statement from the Confederation of European Bicycle Industry

Province of Ontario adds bicycle repair to list of essential workplaces Province of Ontario

Bicycle Shops Can Stay Open During Covid-19 Lockdown, Says U.K. Government Forbes Magazine

Will Canadian bike shops stay open during lockdown Cycling Magazine

Breaking down Ottawa’s $82-billion economic response plan for COVID-19 The Logic article March 18,2020

What Employers should know during the Coronavirus pandemic CTV article March 16, 2020 

This week 500000 canadians applied for ei, heres how you can do the same The Financial Post, March 21, 2020

Need to Get Around in a Pandemic? Ride a Bike. Outside Online March 18, 2020

On March 11, 2020 the Government of Canada announced a rare bit of very good news. After years of advocacy on our part, Canada’s Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure, Andy Fillmore, announced that he has been tasked with leading the development of a national active transportation strategy on behalf of his Minister. Now more than ever people need bicycles and we will continue to support the development of a national cycling strategy in Canada. 

ABOUT CANADA BIKES As your national cycling advocacy organization, Vélo Canada Bikes, we are doing everything we can to support the growth and health of both cycling in Canada and the Canadian bicycle industry. We have been pushing the government for a bike-friendly Canada since 2012. Our tune hasn’t and won’t change. Bicycles offer a form of resiliency both personal and societal that other forms of transportation do not.

Velo Canada Bikes

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