“We sold twenty units per day during the past week,” a worker at Velofixer, a bike repair shop in downtown Brussels, told Bruzz, adding that the shop usually sold about four bikes in a regular week.
Bike shops are among the non-essential businesses that were allowed to reopen on 11 May, the first stage of the phased lockdown lift in Belgium.
An employee at Morning Cycles, another shop near the EU Quarter, said that their bicycles have been flying off the racks and that costumers had been lining outside non-stop.
“It is incredibly busy, there is a constant queue of twenty people in front of the store. We have recruited an extra three people in recent weeks,” they said.
Shop owner Jean-Philippe Gerkens also said that many customers, seeing the queues outside, did not hesitate to buy a thousand-euro electric bike “in minutes.”
According to some shop owners, the bicycle’s apparent rise in popularity could be the result of a sort of post-lockdown effect among city residents, who saw how the usually hectic roads of the capital were emptied out by the pandemic.
“People have seen a car-free Brussels,” Gerkens said, adding that that could have made them consider alternative mobility modes.
At the same time, regional and local authorities have been leading a dynamic push to cut down on vehicle use and boost alternative modes of transport.
Ahead of phase one of the lockdown lift, regional mobility authorities announced the creation of 40 kilometres of additional cycle paths in Brussels, and many local councils have moved to give priority to bikes and pedestrians over vehicles.
Last week, the City of Brussels announced that it was investing half a million euros in new biking infrastructure.