Bike and Peloton Sales Skyrocket During Lockdowns
Fears of catching coronavirus on public transportation coupled with drops in vehicular traffic has led to a spike in the sales of bicycles, and safer streets to ride on.
In the UK, where emergency service personnel still need to get to work, a cycle-to-work initiative has led to a 200 percent increase in bicycle sales among people working for emergency services, according to the BBC.
However, it is not only emergency service workers hopping on two-wheels. Across Great Britain, the demand for bikes has soared as people look for mobility and exercise amidst lockdown and social distancing orders, as the BBC reported.
Commuters in New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. epidemic, expressed the same concern.
"I'm 51 and healthy, but I don't want to get on the subway," said John Donohue, a Brooklyn-based artist who bought a bike two weeks ago, to Reuters. Donohue, who doesn't own a car, said he's not sure when he'll be comfortable on mass transit again.
In Australia, bike shops are struggling to keep up with demand.
"We're the new toilet paper and everyone wants a piece," Grant Kaplan, manager of Giant Sydney, a bike store in Sydney, told Guardian Australia. "We can't keep up with sales. Literally the phone is ringing nonstop."
The phenomenon has reached the U.S. too, where more and more people are shelling out over $2,000 to buy a Peloton to make up for their lost access to gyms, as The New York Times reported.
Peloton has seen its stock soar 95 percent and said its revenue rose 66 percent in the first three months of 2020 from a year earlier. The company ended the quarter with a "backlog" of bike deliveries and added 1.1 million people to digital-only free trials in March and April, according to The New York Times.
"The demand is through the roof," said John Foley, the chief executive, in an interview, as The New York Times reported. "It's not just people wanting more bikes, but if they have one, they're using it more."
In the U.S., people are also turning to less expensive bikes that offer mobility. Bike shops in Tucson, Arizona have seen an increase in sales and an increase in the number of people coming in to have their bikes repaired.
Roadrunner bicycles in Tucson has seen its sales increase at least fivefold, to an average of about six or seven bikes per day, according to the shop's owner, Elliot Dumont, as Tucson.com reported. Dumont noted that the bike shop experienced record sales in March.
"It's a huge increase in entry-level bikes, and a lot more service," said Cory Foster, who manages another bike shop in Tucson. He has seen a number of purchases for kids' bikes since children have outgrown their old ones, as well as an increase in repairs from people stuck at home who are dusting off rarely used bicycles, as Tucson.com reported.
The government has declared bicycles an essential transportation item, so many bike shops remain open despite the widespread business shutdown, as Reuters reported. Many, though, have modified how they operate, no longer letting buyers test bikes and handing them over on the curb rather than inside the store.
Bicycle sellers might also have trouble keeping up with demand. Wholesalers are also telling bicycle dealers that they may not have any new inventory until the 2021 models arrive in the middle of July.
However, some bike shops are unable to meet the increased demand because of strict state laws. In Pennsylvania, for example, bike shops are open for repairs but they're not allowed to sell new bicycles.
"It's sort of stupid that somebody can come in and buy an innertube, but they're not allowed to leave with a bicycle," said Allen Kinkead, owner of a Pittsburgh-based bike shop, as the Pittsburgh CBS News affiliate reported.
In Texas, the bike business is booming, too. "I thought, 'Wow, this could go either way,'" Ray Atayde, the owner of Ray Jay's Bike Shop in Dallas, told the Pittsburgh CBS News. "I was very concerned. And it's just been going like gangbusters around here."
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A stretch of coastline in the Philippine capital, Manila has received backlash from environmentalists. The heavily polluted Manila Bay area, which had been slated for cleanup, has become the site of a controversial 500-meter (1,600-foot) stretch of white sand beach.
Sand Makeup Crucial for Ecosystems<p>While UNEP/GRID-Geneva generally supports finding <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/not-enough-sand-for-construction-industry-despite-abundance/a-49342942" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">alternative sources of sand</a> so as not to disrupt ecosystems in rivers and oceans when extracting them, Vander Velpen stressed it was vital to use sand which closely matches the makeup of the native sand to protect beach fauna.</p><p>"If you change the core characteristics of the native sand, the original sand, you need to do an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to find out how it's going to impact the ecosystem and nearby ecosystems," he told DW.</p><p>But according to Torres, such an assessment was not done in Manila.</p>
Beautification Stunt Instead of Proper Cleanup?<p>Manila Bay's waters are heavily polluted by oil and trash from nearby residential areas and ports. A huge "No swimming" sign warns visitors to stay away from the ocean.</p><p>Philippines' <a href="https://denr.gov.ph/index.php/priority-programs/manila-bay-clean-up/25-priority-programs/1825-frequently-ask-questions-faqs-on-the-dolomite-and-the-beach-nourishment-project" target="_blank">Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)</a> has denied dolomite sand poses any risk to human health and the ecosystem.</p><p>However, scientists of the University of the Philippines have come forward disputing the DENR's claims. A <a href="https://biology.science.upd.edu.ph/index.php/ib-statement-regarding-dolomite-in-manila-bay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">statement by the Institute of Biology</a> said that using crushed dolomite did not address any of the rehabilitation phases and instead was "even more detrimental to the existing biodiversity as well as the communities in the area," pointing to the case of water birds. "The dumping of dolomite in Manila Bay has effectively covered part of the intertidal area used by the birds thereby reducing their habitat."</p><p>At peak migration season, Manila Bay is home to 90 aquatic bird species, including species of international conservation concern that are facing a very high extinction risk in the wild. </p><p>Authorities should focus on protecting and conserving biodiversity, the Institute of Biology added. "Rehabilitating mangroves is an example of a nature-based solution that is cheaper and more cost-effective than the dolomite dumping project," the scientists said.</p><p>Moreover, <a href="http://www.msi.upd.edu.ph/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the Marine Science Institute</a> has warned that prolonged inhalation of finer dust particles of dolomite could "cause chronic health effects," leading to discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing.</p><p>They also warned dolomite sand grains would erode during storms and be carried out to sea, essentially being washed away.</p>
Rehabilitation vs. Reclamation<p>Environmentalists say covering up the beach doesn't address the real issues of the bay. Torres and others believe the best way to clean up Manila Bay is not to add anything, but rather remove trash and pollution.</p><p>"There have been studies saying much of the waste comes from already collected waste — so these are open dump sites along the coast that get washed up because of the rain," Torres said.</p><p>She criticized the authorities for continuing to push reclamation projects she says are at odds with each other. These projects will affect large areas of mangrove forests, she said, and experts warn that this, in turn, exacerbates coastal erosion.</p><p>"If you've removed the areas that helped trap the sand, like mangrove forests, then the likelihood increases that you will have to nourish a beach. Same as building right up to the waterfront," said Vander Velpen of UNEP/GRID-Geneva.</p>
Plenty of Sand in the Sea?<p>The question of Manila's contentious white beach echoes larger questions about sand mining worldwide. <a href="https://unepgrid.ch/storage/app/media/documents/Sand_and_sustainability_UNEP_2019.pdf" target="_blank">Global sand consumption has tripled</a> over the past two decades, UNEP/GRID-Geneva has found. A huge chunk of it is now taken up by construction.</p><p>"Many operate on the assumption that natural sand is endless in its supply," said Vander Velpen.</p><p>Sand scarcity is a concern shared by Stefan Schimmels of <a href="https://www.fzk.uni-hannover.de/fzk_start.html?&L=1" target="_blank">Forschungszentrum Küste</a> who's done extensive research on shore nourishment to stop coastal erosion. And as climate change and rising sea levels are threatening coasts, demand for sand will grow even more.</p><p>A large study, the <a href="http://www.stencil-project.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/STENCIL_SWOT_Analyse_191026.pdf" target="_blank">Strategies and Tools for Environment-Friendly Shore Nourishments as Climate Change Impact Low-Regret Measures (STENCIL project)</a>, focused on the German island of Sylt, a popular vacation spot.</p><p>About 1 million cubic meter of sand per year is used to maintain the coastal area of Sylt, STENCIL project head Schimmels said. That's about 100 million 10-liter buckets of sand.</p><p>When sand was extracted off the coast of Sylt, underwater craters were formed. "You can still detect these craters even decades later," Schimmels told DW.</p><p>"Also when you add a couple of meters sand onto the beach — you essentially bury all things that do creep and fly," he said. "How quickly will they recover?" Schimmels said more research was needed as there was still too little known about long-term effects on the environment. </p>
Criticism Piling Up<p>As for Manila's artificial white sand, it looks like some might have already been blown away by a recent storm. DENR claims it wasn't washed away, but said that grayish sand, stones and other material had simply piled up over the dolomite sand. People in Manila have tweeted photos showing how the storm has ravaged the beach. </p>
<div id="adc0b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="98f9390db6bb81cb421aaf0bb9d9a6fb"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318816633280851969" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Exactly one month after giving excited netizen a glimpse of Manila Bay white sands, look what happened now after ju… https://t.co/X0Z9i0bPB0</div> — M*A*S*H (@M*A*S*H)<a href="https://twitter.com/Magtira_Matibay/statuses/1318816633280851969">1603265362.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Authorities have been called tone-deaf for spending around 389 million pesos ($8 million) on a beach nourishment project in the middle of a raging pandemic.</p><p>An image of cake iced with the words "It really hurts - that's [worth] 389 million pesos?" has since gone viral.</p>
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4387aad52ea316e4db7330052318ca2f"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/theweekendpatisserie/posts/144564207350008"></div></div><p>"It's just a waste of precious resources," Torres said. </p><p>The environmental activist now also worries that she might be labeled a terrorist for speaking out under the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippine-anti-terrorism-law-triggers-fear-of-massive-rights-abuses/a-53732140" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Philippines' controversial new anti-terrorism law</a>. She says she could be arrested for inciting fear when talking about environmental dangers.</p>
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