EDMONTON -- Owners of bike shops in Edmonton say they’re busier than ever amid the COVID-19 pandemic as bike sections in two different department stores are nearly empty.

At Hardcore Bikes on Whyte Avenue, new shipments arrived on Tuesday to try to replace some of the bikes that have gone out. 

“We’ve never been busier,” said Mark Rumsey, owner of Hardcore Bikes. “Typically April, May are our busy months but this is something we’ve never seen.” 

Customers line up outside as long as there are more than three customers in the store at once.  On the main floor, the shelves are mostly full. But downstairs, where a lot of the inventory is kept, Rumsey revealed plenty of empty bike racks. 

“In a normal year, that would be full of new bikes, even now,” he said. 

Across the street, at Mike’s Bikes and Beans, shop owner Michael Wright said he’s also seeing record sales. In addition to selling bikes and gear, Wright said his team has been incredibly busy tuning up people’s bikes — a service they promise to do within 24 hours of customers dropping their bike off. Just this week, he hired a new staff member to keep up with customer demand. 

“It was either that or be here to midnight a lot of nights. I love doing this but midnight tuneups can be a grind after a while,” Wright said. 

Spend a few moments in Edmonton’s River Valley and you won’t have trouble spotting a cyclist. They’re on bike paths, trails, and new temporary lanes set up by the city to ensure physical distancing. 

Sgt. Graham Blackburn patrols Edmonton by bike, often riding from Terwillegar to Old Strathcona on his way to work. 

“I’ve been doing this for 17 years, I’ve been in Edmonton for 22 and I’ve never seen the trails so full,”  Sgt. Blackburn said. 

City of Edmonton spokesperson Sarah Lysakowski said there is no predetermined date for how long it will keep temporary lanes shared by bikers and walkers open. 

“We are continuing to take direction from Alberta Health Services on physical distancing measures,” Lysakowski said via email.