Bike Mechanics Provide an ‘Essential Service’
...and yes, it's still okay to bike, albeit with social distancing in mind
Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.
There seems to be confusion about what constitutes an “essential service” and whether it’s okay to bike, after Mayor London Breed’s order to ‘Shelter in Place.’
First, cycling is still permitted, as laid out by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition:
We strongly support Mayor Breed and City leadership in imposing this order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
***The current order does not prohibit bicycling for essential trips or solo or socially distanced outdoor recreation.*** https://t.co/KAdrOjo9vL
— SF Bicycle Coalition (@sfbike) March 16, 2020
Any confusion was probably caused by the short intro of the announcement, which just says it’s okay to go for a walk, as long as it’s not in a group and a safe distance is maintained from non-family members. The longer form states that “Individuals may go on a walk, get exercise [emphasis added], or take a pet outside to go to the bathroom, as long as at least six feet of social distancing is maintained.” The advocates got the further clarification.
More on this in Streetsblog California.
But what if my bike breaks?
Another source of confusion: the formal, legal order lists auto repair as an ‘essential service’ but doesn’t say anything about bike repair. Streetsblog has reached out to Mayor Breed’s office and will update this post accordingly. However, an SFPD spokesperson told Streetsblog that “The City issued a Public Health Order requiring people to stay home except for essential needs. How an individual defines ‘essential’ will be the issue we will handle on a case by case basis.”
A bit of common sense dictates that if a nurse or an SFMTA worker uses a bike to get to work, they may have to get that bike repaired at some point in the next few weeks. Bike shops are acting accordingly.
“I’m still figuring out the specifics, but we’re considering ourselves an essential service because our customers use their bikes as transportation,” wrote Kash, owner of Warm Planet Bikes on Market Street, in an email to Streetsblog, “…but it will definitely be appointment only so that we can space out customers so that they don’t interact directly.”
Our service center is going to stay open in a minimal way with pickup and delivery service as we understand that we fall under auto repair and similar.
— THE NEW WHEEL (@newwheel) March 16, 2020
“We are doing ‘by appointment repair’ only right now. We’ve shut down the cafe and are doing so both for safety of our employees and for financial stability,” wrote Aaron Wacks of the Lucky Duck cafe and bike shop in Oakland. “…most of our bicycle repair customers are commuters that usually have some sort of part failure while they’re in the wild. Not having an open shop nearby will probably make life a lot more difficult for most people.”
“It’s a hard time and we’re hoping to weather the storm,” he added.
Clarification for those who have asked: just as auto repair shops are considered essential so people can conduct essential travel, so are bicycle repair shops and mobile bicycle repair companies. Social distancing and consistent cleaning requirements continued to be required.
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) March 19, 2020