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SLO bike shops remain open amid coronavirus

Posted at 7:50 AM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 10:50:28-04

Movie theaters, shopping centers, and even some hiking trails are closed due to the coronavirus but many Central Coast bike shops remain open.

Many people rely on bikes as their sole mode of transportation, which is why bikes shops like Wally's Bicycle Works and Foothill Cyclery in San Luis Obispo are keeping the doors open.

"We're seeing a lot of customers, they have a bike they haven't used in 20 years maybe," Walter Ajamel, the owner of Wally's Bicycle Works, said. "They say I need that fixed now."

The SLO Bike Kitchen, which assists people in repairing their bikes, is closed due to COVID-19 but local shops can also help with repairs.

"We accept bikes outside, spray with alcohol and washing station," Ajamel said.

Wally's Bicycle Works repairs old bikes and sells new ones. The coronavirus restrictions mean twice as many bikes as usual are rolling in for a tune-up.

"The bike's been parked for a long time," Ajamel said. "So you have to replace the tires or at least the inter-tubes."

Ajamel said he's also found that many people are in need of a bike rack, which is he lending out.

Across town, Foothill Cyclery helps customers from a distance.

"We're basically running like a taco stand," Foothill Cyclery Owner Josh Cohen said. "You come up to the window, put your order in, and take your tacos to the park."

Cohen and Ajamel know bikes are more than just a hobby. As San Francisco Mayor London Breed noted in a recent tweet, bikes are a crucial means of transportation for many people.

"You look outside, there actually are people riding bikes to work," Cohen said. "There are a lot of families I know that rely on at least one bike as their primary form of transportation so, without it, that puts them in a rough spot."

Whether this service is needed for the work commute or staying sane at home, the SLO County biking community is doing what it can to keep the wheels turning.