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Coronavirus: Fresh surge in trade for bicycle shop owners as people take to two wheels across Northern Ireland

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A cyclist pedals along Newcastle promenade

A cyclist pedals along Newcastle promenade

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Eamon McConvey of McConvey Cycles

Eamon McConvey of McConvey Cycles

Brian Cassidy of Claudy Cycles

Brian Cassidy of Claudy Cycles

A cyclist pedals along Newcastle promenade

Bicycle retailers and repair shops across Northern Ireland have reported a surge in trade during the coronavirus outbreak.

With council-owned and private gyms and swimming pools closed to combat the spread of Covid-19, sport enthusiasts have instead turned to their attention to two-wheeled exercise.

Bicycle shops are allowed to continue trading as an essential service, alongside supermarkets and pharmacies, under the Northern Ireland Executive's lockdown measures.

The Association of Cycle Traders (ACT) said members had reported a boom in mending as commuters decided to travel by bicycle rather than risk infection on buses or trains.

Independent shop owners say they have been inundated with customers getting old bikes out of their garages and sheds and dusting them down.

Belfast cycle retailer and family business McConvey Cycles is among those still welcoming customers although it has implemented strict social distancing measures such as reduced trading hours and no shop entry, with customers instead collecting their products from the front door.

The business on the Ormeau Road has been trading for 35 years and is owned by Eamon McConvey, who is offering limited repair services which are free for NHS staff.

Mr McConvey said: "Once it was announced that people could only have one form of daily exercise we saw more and more people coming to us with resurrected bikes.

"We're not selling new bikes at the moment - it's essential repairs only.

"We're not charging for labour, only for the parts. The focus is on people keeping on the road at the moment by replacing tyres, fixing brake cables and those sorts of things.

"If we have to close our doors under any new lockdown rules then we'll be ready for it. Until that happens we just want to help get people on the road."

Brian Cassidy of Claudy Cycles in Co Londonderry is also still trading responsibly to avoid putting staff and customers at risk.

"The phone hasn't stopped with people enquiring about repairs after digging some relics out of their sheds," he said.

"At the minute we are just allowing one customer in the store at a time and asking for contactless payments where possible.

"A lot of office and manual workers who have been sent home from work seem to be at a loose end. They are heading out on the bikes either in small family groups or on their own for exercise while also staying safe from the virus."

Belfast Telegraph