THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HAS Been a Breakthrough of Opportunities for Scooter and Bike Transportation

The pandemic has forced many small businesses across the city to shutter, but other retailers, such as “Inokim Electric Scooter Shop,” have been opening.  The Metropolitan Transportation Authority reports that subway ridership has decreased by nearly 70%  compared to the same period in 2019,  and bus ridership is down by 50% in the same time period

Although some of that drop in ridership is due to people traveling by car, many New Yorkers have instead chosen to invest in electric bikes and scooters for city travel, due to a fear of contracting COVID on public transportation. Bike shops interviewed report the best business they have ever had. 

Two bikers talk about what biking has come to mean for them over the course of the Pandemic

Inokim Electric Scooter Shop

Inokim Electric Scooters had a rocky start: the legislation allowing electric scooters in NYC was delayed, a pandemic hit and then the store was looted. But, once the store opened, it found immediate success with people fleeing the subway, said the owner Max Beckman.

Inokim is the only purely and exclusively electric scooter store in all five boroughs. While other stores that sell scooters around the city are mainly bike shops, Inokim does not include anything beyond at which relates specifically to scooter riding.

Inokim employee Mika Muskaye works the front desk, frequently showing prospective buyers around on their electric scooters and even taking one to and from work everyday.

In addition to being a store, Inokim is also a repair shop for those who use their scooters. Muskaye discussed with us some of the ideas they have in the works for modernizing the repair shop.

“We’ve been thinking of adding a live camera to the repair room,” said Muskaye, “so that customers can check in and see how the fixes are going on their scooter!”

Bicycles NYC

Bicycles NYC is a store on the Upper East Side that sold out of bikes and bike parts in the spring and are still backordered on certain bikes and bike parts. The store’s buyer, Shane Holl, hopes that the bike trend will continue

Now that winter has arrived, Bicycles NYC is replenishing their stock of bikes. People are still buying bikes, but demand has gone way down with the coming winter. Shane Holl explained that people not in the bike world don’t understand how seasonal the industry the bike industry really is.

Every bike in stock is for sale, but certain models will not arrive until May. Bikes are not made of one item: they are a multitude of parts required to assemble the singular bike, and even one disruption in the supply chain can cause bikes not to arrive. The store no longer has kickstands, explained Holl.

While bikes are still coming into the store, the selection is limited. These boxes all came from one brand and only are in size small. “If you’re 6 foot 2, then you’re out of luck,” said Holl.

Customers come in to speak with the store employees, but none of them left with bikes after speaking with the staff for a while. They looked around.

Holl, in the back, shows the buyer’s screen for wholesale purchasing from factories to his coworker after speaking with the customer. Stores aren’t sold out until May— factories are, said Holl.

Echelon Cycles

Echelon Cycles’ rush of business last spring helped co-owner Danny DeNigris make money for the first time ever with the store. He does not, however, have much faith that the rush of business will continue into the winter.

The bikes shown in this photograph are of the lower price range of the shop ($500-$700). Last spring, prices at this model completely sold out almost immediately. As each price point sold out, customers subsequently moved onto the next lowest price point, hitting a price ceiling around $1,500.

This summer, due to the pandemic, Echelon Cycles’ business doubled entirely as a result of residents being too scared to take public transportation.

Bikes that are left for purchase in the shop are at a higher price point, since most of the more affordable bikes were bought up at the beginning of the pandemic.

Additionally, with the gyms closed, locals were looking for an outlet for exercise that would not put them at risk. Many expressed their enthusiasm to the owner of Echelon Cycles in finally having a form of both transportation and fitness.

A customer arrives for a bike repair at Echelon Cycles.

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Avery Schuyler Nunn is a freelance photographer, writer and graduate student at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Avery is a graduate of Lafayette College and has had her work published in places such as Whalebone Magazine and Ocean City Magazine, covering topics across all things environmental, surfing, and climate.

Instagram + Twitter: @aveschuy

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Jemma Stephenson grew up in southern Virginia and recently graduated from Smith College
with a degree in English language and literature.
Twitter: @JK_Stephenson

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