SF deems bike repair an essential business during shelter-in-place

Photo: Teresa Hammerl/Hoodline
By Teresa Hammerl - Published on March 20, 2020.

Tuesday's shelter-in-place order for the Bay Area has carve-outs for numerous essential businesses to remain open, including those related to driving — "gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities," as the order notes.

But for those who rely on bikes to get around the city, the order created some confusion. 

"We believe that bike shops also serve an essential function for bicycle maintenance and repair, and we are working to obtain clarity from the City that they are classified as such under the order," the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition wrote on Wednesday

Yesterday, they received that clarity from Mayor London Breed: 

John McDonell of Market Street Cycles never completely closed his shop. When he saw the rules about auto-repair shops and related facilities, he thought "'That's us!,'" he said.

Nonetheless, he's grateful for the official clarity. 

"Our bread-and-butter customer base uses their bike as their form of transportation," McDonell said. "And social distance is built into cycling."

For shops that choose to remain open, Breed reiterated that social distancing and consistent cleaning are still required in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, keeping both workers and customers safe. 

"Handwashing is not a new thing for us," McDonell said, explaining that Market Street Cycles' staff frequently handle a variety of different solvents. That also means that they wear disposable gloves and can't touch their faces while in the shop – something that comes in handy now.

"We find it pretty easy to keep the distance in the shop [as well]," he noted, adding that he's stocked up on hand sanitizer. 

The bigger challenge is ensuring customers socially distance from each other. McDonell said he wishes that customers would take the current situation more seriously.

"It’s a struggle with some people," he said. "Not everyone is paying attention to the protocols."

Photo: Google Maps

Not every San Francisco bike shop will remain open amidst the shelter-in-place, but a few have committed themselves to the effort, with special precautions in place. 

The Haight's Wiggle Bicycles is asking customers to call in advance to schedule drop-offs and pickups, to keep foot traffic low. And while Bernal Heights' The New Wheel has shuttered its storefront, it's doing mobile pickup and delivery of bikes from customers' homes. 

Photo: Mychelle F./Yelp

These efforts will be especially important for delivery workers, who are busier than ever ferrying food and other essentials on their bikes, as District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin pointed out on Twitter.

The SF Bicycle Coalition is happy, too.

"We strongly support this determination, which will ensure thousands of San Franciscans who rely on bicycling as their primary mode of transportation can make necessary trips and continue to access repair/maintenance services," the group said in a statement.

About 19 hours ago
San Francisco Embarcadero Financial District

‘Nash Bridges’ reboot movie shoot electrifying the Financial District

The old combination of Don Johnson and Cheech Marin is bringing new life to downtown San Francisco, in the form of gunshots and exploding cars for the “Nash Bridges” made-for-TV movie. Read More

About 19 hours ago
San Francisco

Bay Area restaurants will hold 'Dining for India' fundraiser to raise funds for India COVID-19 relief efforts

In light of India’s catastrophic second Covid-19 wave, ten local Indian eateries have partnered together to donate 50% of their sales on May 25 toward COVID-19 response efforts in India. Read More

About 19 hours ago
San Francisco

California is set to rescind mask mandates next month, but Bay Area counties likely to sort out their own new rules

With California less than a month away from its "full-reopening" on June 15, and after the Centers for Disease Control rescinded its mask mandate last week, it's still not clear what a mostly vaccinated, maskless, post-pandemic Bay Area will look like. Read More

May 14, 2021
San Francisco Embarcadero Fisherman's Wharf

Watch: The F-Line ‘Boat Tram’ returns with ribbon-cutting celebration

The Blackpool Boat Tram popularly known as “Boat Boi” returned to the rails Friday, in advance of this weekend’s reopening of Muni Metro service and stations. Read More