Coronavirus: Popularity of cycling in Singapore gathers speed during circuit breaker

Cycling enthusiasts here also noted an increase in the number of people cycling outdoors. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Like many shops in Singapore, Cycleworx saw a dip in sales revenue over the April 7-June 1 circuit breaker when most retail outlets had to be shut. But the bicycle shop has since recovered, with co-owner Kenneth Tan estimating a 50 per cent increase in sales since resuming operations on June 2.

The 53-year-old, who said there was a 30 to 40 per cent drop in sales, observed a rise in interest levels in cycling over the circuit breaker, when sports facilities were not allowed to open.

"There were a lot of inquiries, up to four or five Facebook messages a day, but we couldn't sell, we could only do urgent repairs like when the battery dies or you break a spoke," said Mr Tan, adding that the shop has enjoyed good business since reopening, and that customers are allocated time slots.

"There are always people coming in to service bikes. Last time, I'd get one or two a week, now there's one or two people a day.

"People also started buying bikes - those who were sitting on the fence and undecided (before the circuit breaker) came and bought bikes."

The number of cycling-related transactions increased over the first quarter of the year as compared to last year, said OCBC's head of group customer analytics and decisioning Donald MacDonald.

Expenditure on cycling has also seen a month-on-month increase in the first quarter of this year - there was a 46 per cent increase from February to March, before sales slowed down in the following month as many shops had to limit their operations during the circuit breaker.

Cycling enthusiasts here also noted an increase in the number of people cycling outdoors as they believe most were eager to leave their homes and get moving after a period of being cooped up indoors.

National cyclist Goh Choon Huat estimated a 10 to 20 per cent rise in the number of cyclists on the roads.

Lawyer Roger Allingham, who cycles with local team Allied World Treknology 3, noted the roads were used by individual cyclists who were making the most of lighter traffic during the circuit breaker.

Mr Goh, 29, added: "It wasn't crowded because everyone was still respecting the rules of social distancing.

"It's good to see the cycling community expanding and everyone adopting this as a healthy lifestyle."

Engineer Peter Yap increased his weekly mileage from 200km to 260km during the circuit breaker. The 55-year-old, who cycles thrice a week, appreciated that cyclists did not need to wear masks, allowing him to breathe easier while exercising.

He added: "It is (enjoyable) but the fact that you're not able to ride with a group means you have to have (the) determination to do long distances by yourself.

"Cycling has helped maintain my health and it also reduces stress."

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