BROOKLYN, NY (BRAIN) — While many bike retailers in New York City and New Jersey remain closed, New Yorkers are finding bikes the best way to get around with the city's mass transit system crippled by the storm that hit Monday.
"Pedal power is the only way," said Aldo Diaz, general manager of R&A Cycles in Brooklyn. R&A remained open during much of the storm this week and on Wednesday, Diaz said the shop was busy fixing flats and selling commuter gear.
"We've had four flats already this morning, there is a lot of debris in the streets," he said. "We did have quite an interest in hybrids yesterday. People are looking for commuter bikes, lights, locks, rain gear ..."
New York's subway system is still shut down and may remain that way for days or weeks. The bus system is operating but roads are clogged with traffic and most tunnels are still closed. Many gas stations are closed because they can't receive fuel shipments, they lack power or their tanks are flooded. Bridges — and their bike and pedestrian lanes — are re-opening, however. On Wednesday New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced steps to limit the number of cars entering Manhattan.
"Everyone in New York City: if you have a bike. Now is the time to use it. Forget about driving anywhere. It's a mess out there." — Tweet on Wednesday.
Another Brooklyn shop, 718 Cyclery, is doing steady business serving locals with a new-found interest in bike commuting, said 718 employee Ben Newell.
"We've had a lot of people in suits riding their bikes, coming in to buy U-locks because they've never had to lock their bikes before," Newell said. Newell said the store was largely untouched by the storm, although its credit card system was not working Wednesday. 718 employees are anxiously waiting for freight deliveries to resume; the store specializes in custom builds and needs parts orders to complete some builds.