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Transit Strike Spikes Repairs, Sales

Published November 12, 2009

PHILADELPHIA, PA (BRAIN)—“Pedals Don’t Strike!” was the motto on Bicycle Therapy’s Web site this week as the Philadelphia shop tried to keep the momentum going from a small spike in sales and repairs last week following a six-day city transit strike that ended on Monday.

Subways, buses and trolleys came to a halt as thousands of workers walked off the job in protest over pension benefits. And the scramble for ways to get to work, school and other destinations led some commuters into local bike shops.

“We saw a definite increase in service and probably a handful of people who came in to shop for a bike,” said Toby Balch, sales manager for Bicycle Therapy in Philadelphia. “Certainly in the service department. People were bringing in bikes that they had just taken out of the basement and needed new tires or a new seat. A handful of customers came in and bought bikes because of the strike.”

Other shops in Philadelphia, including The Bike Line, Trophy Bikes, Breakaway Bicycles and Jay’s Pedal Power, also experienced a short-lived surge in shop traffic and sales.

Meanwhile, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, which conducts bicycle counts, reported a 38 percent increase in bicyclists during rush hour on day two of the SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) strike. The counts were conducted on the Walnut and Chestnut Street bridges as well as 21st and Pine and 22nd and Spruce Streets. The increase was calculated from counts conducted in September and October.

Local bike supplier Fuji tried to drive some traffic into retail stores, running a promotion called “Bike the Strike” in the Philadelphia City Paper that encouraged consumers to stop by their local dealers for “special deals on bicycles.”

Though not huge, retailers seemed to appreciate the additional repairs and sales heading into the winter off-season.

“We’re back to normal again,” said The Bike Line’s Bob Prince. “We had one or two good days that were above normal. It wasn’t like years ago—a lot of people didn’t think they would strike. And it didn’t last too long. There was a spike, but not tremendous.”

—Lynette Carpiet

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