June 05, 2008
The impending bike shortage

Is this a sign of things to come?

High gas prices are causing spot shortages of bikes in New York City, as commuters turn to pedal power.

Many of these new cyclists are from areas not commonly associated with the "Bike Belt" -- neighborhoods such as the Upper West Side and Williamsburg in Brooklyn -- but are instead from Queens and other places where driving to work has long been common and affordable. With gas costing nearly $4 a gallon, these commuters are switching to bikes, leaving some stores short on fashionable brands and preferred colors.

The owner of Dixon's Bicycle Shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, David Dixon, said that over Memorial Day weekend, his store sold all 25 of its Jamis hybrid bikes -- a cross between a racing bike and a mountain bike that sells for between $285 and $335 and is favored among commuters. Early this week, Mr. Dixon called Jamis to order about 50 more bikes and was told that a shipment wouldn't arrive until the end of the week. "They're all gone. It's wicked," Mr. Dixon said. "This isn't usual at all. The price of gas is affecting everyone."

"We ended up selling very heavily," the owner of Bicycle Habitat in SoHo, Charles McCorkell, said. "I thought there would be a shortage."

Peter Wang, please pick up the white courtesy phone...

OK, I don't actually think that Houstonians are going to make a run on the local bike shops. But if gas prices are leading to an increase in transit usage, it's not crazy to think that more people will consider even cheaper alternatives. Link via Yglesias.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 05, 2008 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I was talking to people in the bike industry last week, and they said the supply chain from China is all screwed up; they are having trouble getting bikes. There is significant new bike inflation, many manufacturers are raising their prices significantly for 2009 models. I just bought a bunch of tires for the old price of $30 each, the new price is $37. Fortunately, this is peanuts compared to operating a car. The price:performance ratio of driving a bike can't be beat. It's still about ten times cheaper per mile than a car. But not free. Nothing in life is free.

Posted by: Peter Wang on June 5, 2008 7:25 AM