Quarantine “bike boom” brings new bikers to Greater Boston

The showroom at Farina’s bike shop in Watertown, Mass. Photo credit: Alaina Mencinger/BU News Service

By Alaina Mencinger
Boston University News Service

While many businesses have had to shutter their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one industry has seen a surprising economic boom: bike shops.

Increased interest in socially distant outdoor activities has introduced a “new generation” to cycling, Paula Farina Pollis, a Watertown bike shop co-owner, said. Since Mass. Governor Charlie Baker issued a stay-at-home order last March, new cyclists have been flooding local bike shops.

In a written statement, Zoe Latil, the digital marketing manager for Belmont Wheelworks, wrote that in March, Wheelworks’ online ordering “exploded.”

Although Maggie Farr, a Boston University student, has biked since she was seven-year-old, she has biked more often since the COVID-19 pandemic and now rides every day. In an attempt to avoid using public transportation due to COVID-19, Farr purchased an annual subscription to Boston’s bike share program, Bluebikes.

Farr also finds joy in her daily bike ride: “When you’re on the bus or the T, it all kind of blends into one blurry landscape,” Farr said. “I get to see parts of Boston [while riding a bike that] I don’t think I would see if I were [on] the T.”

Farina’s, a family-owned bike business in Watertown, has been in business for 45 years and has seen several “bike booms” over the past decades. “You had the road bike boom, the Lance Armstrong boom,” Pollis said. “The pandemic obviously brings out a lot more people to it, but cycling has always been pretty popular.”

Pollis said that Farina’s generally has 400 bikes in-store and another 400 in storage. However, Pollis says there has been an increase in bike sales. As of last fall, most bikes at Farina’s were sold before they even hit the showroom. Pollis says that recreational and family bikes have been prevalent.

While Pollis says keeping up with demand, production shortages, and COVID-19 precautions has been difficult, Farina’s has been able to evolve.

“We’ve been in the business so long, we were able to adapt [to COVID-19] seamlessly,” Pollis said. “We’re not going anywhere.”

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