Bike events like the 2018 Valley Granfondo in Fort Langley drew thousands of cyclists. (Langley Advance Times files)

Our View: Cycling boom will have long-term implications for Canada

All the people who took to two wheels in the last year will change our views on transportation

There’s money in that old bike in the shed. For a full year now, there’s been a bike shortage in British Columbia.

Ever since it sunk in that we weren’t going to be able to go to Mexico, or Hawaii, or even to Washington state, the casino, or, for much of the year, the movie theatre, people have been getting outside on two wheels.

It’s been driving bike shops crazy.

They’re desperate to supply all these new customers with bikes, and yet they just don’t have enough – especially not a nice, entry-level bike for someone who hasn’t put foot to pedal since they were 16 and got their learner’s permit.

As the weather warms up, bike shops are still seeing high demand, and a perusal of online job listings shows there are also a lot of stores seeking more mechanics and sales staff.

This is great. Cycling can be a healthy, fun family activity, it’s relatively cheap, and it can be a gateway to cycling clubs, competitions, and more. (Is your kid really fast? Did you know there are mountain and road bike racing scholarships?)

This is one of the unexpected ways that COVID-19 is going to change Canada.

If even 10 per cent of the new cyclists who are buying bikes now stick with the hobby, it’s going to vastly increase the number of people riding for exercise, to work, in competition and to pick up groceries.

The federal government’s $400-million pledge towards more cycling infrastructure will go a long way to making cities safer and more welcoming for all these new cyclists, as well as the ones who’ve been here all along.

But a lot more money and infrastructure will be needed over the next decades. There are still plenty of potential cyclists who are wary of busy roads, and bike lanes can help that. With so many more people taking up cycling this year, it’s more important than ever to have a network in place to serve this growing group.

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