NYC Bike Culture Comes to Life After Hurricane

The city sees a huge upsurge in bicycle sales and bike commuters
Staff Writer

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, New York City looks a little more like Amsterdam.

Not only can Manhattan boast a few more (temporary) waterways, but hoards of locals are opting to ride bicycles to avoid flooded subway systems, bridges closed to traffic and unreliable public transportation with huge lines. 

The new trend is causing business to boom for many local bike shops.

“Yesterday we outsold our busiest summer Saturday,” Emily Samstag, manager of Bicycle Habitat in Brooklyn, told CNBC.This was just one day after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast. “Our first customer walked in and said: 'The subways are down so I have to buy a bike'. That was standard all morning.”

On Wednesday, the shop sold 15 bikes—a huge jump from the normal October average of one every two weeks. There were also more customers coming in for safety checks on old bikes.

This wasn’t a one-location phenomenon. Bicycle Habitat’s Soho store sold bikes in the dark through the blackout and had three mechanics working to meet customers' needs. 

Ride Brooklyn in Park Slope also had a surge in sales and had to call in employees to help out.

For some bike enthusiasts, the shift is exciting for reasons beyond profit.

“Maybe this can be the window into the life of a cyclist,” Jake Fleishcmann, a salesman at Ride Brooklyn, told CNBC. “Maybe all these people who had a bike for leisure will see that riding a bike can be your mode of transportation, especially a city like New York. We are pretty level ground, you can ride anywhere within a few minutes.”


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