Gas prices are up. So is an interest in bikes.

Businesses say sticker shock at the pump may be driving up demand for alternative options, like biking.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 5:22 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:53 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Businesses say sticker shock at the pump may be driving up demand for alternative options, like biking.

In Madison Tuesday, drivers are paying $4.81 for a gallon of regular unleaded gas. AAA says this average is the highest on record.

The pinch at the pump may be “pretty crazy,” as Steven Rosenblum said. But for bike commuters like him, it’s not so painful.

“We drive so little actually that gas prices haven’t affected us that much,” Rosenblum said.

“This year the change in interest that we’re viewing feels outsized,” Lang Schmitt said. “It feels different.”

Schmitt is executive director of the charity Madison Freewheel Bicycle Co., which is contracted by the city to run a facility for bike tune-ups, workshops and storage, known as the Madison Bicycle Center.

He noted, a number of reasons drive people to commute by bike. In past years, reasons have included health or the environment, but this year has been different.

“I suspect that the change in price of gas is the tipping point for a lot of people,” he said.

Across the Midwest this season, retailer ERIK’S has also seen a higher interest in bikes.

Founder and owner Erik Saltvold wrote, “Customers have been specifically referencing gas prices as a motivation to bike more.”

He continued, “Specifically electric commuter bikes are one of our top-selling categories and this is likely influenced by the high price per gallon.”

When it comes to commuting via the bus, a spokesperson for the Madison Metro said ridership has not increased due to gas prices. Data did suggest, more people are riding the bus now than during most of the pandemic.

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