Most people are required to stay inside under Washington State’s just-announced “stay home, stay healthy” order. Similar to the “shelter in place” orders in other cities and states, Jay Inslee announced further restrictions on activities and businesses that are allowed right now in an effort to further slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. You can leave the house to go to the grocery store or pharmacy or other essential service. You can also leave to exercise, including going for a bike ride.
But many people still need to get around, and biking has become a lifeline for people trying to avoid using public transit. It is also a great way to get outside and get much-needed exercise while following social distancing guidelines (so long as you are smart and safe about it).
So it is good news that bicycle repair services are considered an essential service under the state’s guidelines (PDF). Bike shops may remain open if they choose to so long as they practice social distancing.
This is especially important considering the demand for bicycle transportation following today’s surprise news that the city will close the upper West Seattle Bridge for and unknown period of time. For many people in West Seattle, including many essential workers, biking is likely to be the best way to get across the Duwamish River for a while. So they are going to need access to bikes and bike repairs.
Some shops around town have chosen to close even though they were not ordered to do so. Others have significantly changed the way they operate. Be sure to call ahead to find out if your local shop is open and whether they have new rules or restrictions you need to follow. Some shops may require sign-ups in order to limit the number of customers, for example.
“We turned our shop inside out,” said Alex Kostelnik of 20/20 Cycles in the Central District. They have a metal gate blocking their entrance, and customers have to ring a bike bell outside the door to get service. They talk to employees through the gate about what they need and are not allowed inside. If they need to buy an item, the employee will get it and bring it to the gate. If they need a repair, they leave their bike outside and an employee will disinfect it before bringing it inside to work on it. They are even disinfecting debit and credit cards before running them.
Customers can wait in chairs outside on the sidewalk, which have been placed six feet apart. And the need for these services is clear.
“Our shop is booming,” said Kostelnik.