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San Francisco says bike repair shops are 'essential' and will remain open

Written by Tessa McLean | Published by SFGATE on Thursday, March 19, 2020

San Francisco’s shelter-in-place ordinance has been a bit confusing. Are cannabis dispensaries considered essential since, for many, they provide medicine? What’s included in outdoor exercise? Can you still ride your bike?

Today, Mayor London Breed's office clarified that bike repair shops will be allowed to remain open, as many San Franciscans use their bicycle as their main mode of transportation. “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,” a tweet read Thursday morning.

Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said the organization asked for clarity Tuesday. “We understand there's a lot of confusion and not everyone could be named in the order,” he said. “Just like auto repair shops have been deemed an essential business we believe bike shops should as well.”

The organization is also communicating with local bike shops on how best to operate during this time, focusing on proper cleaning protocol and maintaining social distancing.

Wiedenmeier expressed relief when the determination was officially released. “The SF Bicycle Coalition supports this determination,” he said. “It will ensure that thousands of San Franciscans who rely on bicycling as their primary mode of transportation can continue to make essential trips and access repair and maintenance services at local bike shops.”

Several bike shops were open Wednesday, but many had decreased hours or were taking in bicycles by appointment only.

Greg Forrest, the owner of Bike Connection in SOMA, said he didn’t open the shop Wednesday because he wasn’t yet sure what the right thing was to do.

"The right thing for my business is probably to be open this week and then close indefinitely, and the right thing for the virus is probably to close for the next two weeks,” he said. “We want to be part of the solution. I think it’s good they are shutting things down to flatten the curve.”

Forrest said they will definitely be open on Friday and Saturday for anyone to pick up a bike that was in their shop for repairs.

Valencia Cyclery in the Mission was closed Wednesday, with this message on their website, “Valencia Cyclery will close in accordance with San Francisco’s “shelter in place” order, and remain closed for the duration of the order. Our decision to delay our closing by a day was to allow our clients with bikes here for service some extra time to collect their bikes before the ordered shutdown.”

Flywheel Bike Shop in NOPA had this sign in their window Wednesday, “While the Freewheel is sheltered for community health we still hope to stay relevant and appreciate your continued support. We can pick up and drop off bikes in some cases. Our retail will be stunted however with social distancing in mind we will still continue to offer limited hours for essential services and repairs. Please email us or leave a voicemail for appointments, pickups, and deliveries. Stay healthy. Wash your hands. Don’t hog TP.”

Mike’s Bikes in SOMA said it’s open for essential services right now during normal hours. Wiggle Bicycles in the Lower Haight said it will take in bikes by appointment only.

If you need to get your bike fixed during the shelter-in-place, it’s best to call ahead and make sure your local shop will be open.

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