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Treasure Valley bike shops seeing increase in business as gas prices stay high

Bike shop owners around Boise said they are seeing more business lately as temperatures start to warm up and the cost to fill up at the pump goes up.

BOISE, Idaho — Increasing gas prices are having some people in the Treasure Valley opt for two wheels instead of four to get around town. 

Bike shop owners around Boise said they are seeing more business lately as temperatures start to warm up and the cost to fill up at the pump goes up.

"A lot of people have been calling about service, trying to figure when they can get a bike and just finding out if we have bikes for sale," George's Cycles owner Linda Lloyd said. 

Lloyd and her husband took over the Boise bike shop, which has been open for 51 years, shortly after the start of the pandemic. She said business started out great, because many people were not traveling and were looking for things to do, like riding bikes and being outside.

However, things took a turn as inventory and supply chain issues stopped a lot of the bike shop's services, like selling and fixing up bikes.

"We had a very serious shortage, [the store] was empty. It was crazy," Lloyd said. "Our basement, which is our warehouse, was empty. It was really tough and I'm glad we weathered that, it's definitely improving."

Business at George's Cycles typically sees an uptick at the beginning of March when temperatures outside start to warm up, Lloyd said. This March has been no different, especially with the cheapest gallon of gasoline in Boise around $4.30, according to GasBuddy.

"We had a great weekend last weekend," Lloyd said. She added electric bikes have been a big seller this season.

Founder of Boise Bicycle Project Jimmy Hallyburton said there are a number of other reasons bike shops in the Treasure Valley, like his, are seeing more interest than usual.

"This year, especially with it being a little bit warmer, the snow not being great and COVID restrictions starting to ease up, people are excited to get out there," Hallyburton said. "The shop has been really, really busy these last couple of weeks."

Hallyburton said what is happening with gas prices currently is reminiscent of 2008 when the average gas price was more than $4 a gallon.

"It really did change people's behavior," Hallyburton said. "All of sudden a ton of more people started using public transportation and started substituting car trips for bike trips and become bicycle commuters."

He said while high gas prices have caused an uptick in cyclists in Boise in years past, this time around is different. He mentioned high housing and grocery prices have caused people to budget more.

While it is hard to say whether gas is a significant factor in the current "bike boom," what Hallyburton does know is people can save some money by switching how they get around.

"Transportation is the one thing that can get cheaper," Hallyburton said. "We don't want people to stop driving, we want people to figure out how they can drive a little bit less. How they can substitute one or two car trips for a bike trip or a walking trip every single day. That will add up and make a difference on people's pocketbooks."

Hallyburton suggests new bike commuters practice their ride to work when it is not so busy, like on a Sunday. He said that way they can know what it is like, without being overwhelmed the day of. 

"Also, if it's really crummy outside, don't choose that day to ride your bike," Hallyburton said. "You want to ride on the nice days to get started with and you'll find you'll be more comfortable over time, then the bad weather isn't even a big issue for you going forward."

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