On Thursday evening, Governor Tom Wolf ordered all Pennsylvania businesses that are not “life-sustaining” to close. This order came after Philadelphia issued its own about which businesses in the city can, and can’t, stay open.
Not included on the list of businesses that can stay open (or that need to close) are bike shops. We have reached out to the state for clarification on this issue. For the time being, we do not know if bike shops are allowed to stay open, and, according to the governor’s office, “enforcement” of closed businesses will begin tomorrow.
Since the order was put forth on Thursday evening, the Bicycle Coalition and Bike Pittsburgh have been reaching out to representatives in our areas.
We have sent a formal letter asking for clarification. Specifically, we are asking if bike shops are/can be considered “support activities for road transportation” or “other general merchandise stores” under the Executive Order that the Governor issued yesterday. We are also in touch with State Sen. Larry Farnese’s office, who are helping us through the process.
The situation is a little unprecedented. The list of businesses that are ordered closed, and those that can stay open, does not include bike shops.
As we noted earlier this week, bikes are being used by folks in the gig economy to make deliveries and by residents who want to get around without using a motor vehicle (and get outside for exercise).
It’s absolutely critical that people be able to use bikes that are in good repair and fix them when necessary — at, of course, the discretion of the shop itself. (Shops must also practice good hygiene, and we wrote about what Philly shops are doing, here.)
We have also seen a huge spike in bicycling throughout the city, and on city trails, as gyms and fitness studios have closed their doors. As it happens, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has encouraged people to ride their bicycles outdoors during the pandemic, and, as Ashley Vogel and Randy LoBasso of the Bicycle Coalition recently wrote for WHYY, bicycling outside is some of the best exercise you can get right now.
We hope this situation gets resolved soon. It’s important to the financial well being of people around the state, as well as the physical and mental health of our citizens.
Governor Wolf, please clarify the order and add bike shops to “support activities for road transportation” or “other general merchandise stores.”