There is a national bike shortage that is affecting many sporting goods stores across the nation. However, Boise Bicycle Project (BBP) relies on donations, so it has not been burdened by this. Rather, it is dealing with different problems.
A shortage in parts
“What is running out are the parts to fix those bicycles,” Jimmy Hallyburton, the executive director at BBP said. “It’s almost impossible to get 26-inch tubes anywhere in the county right now. That’s primarily what we get donated into the shop.”
During a normal month, BBP orders hundreds of 26-inch tubes to fix bikes. Now, Hallyburton, who also serves on Boise City Council, says they are working closely with local bike shops to figure out alternative ways to get more people on bikes.
He says that bike shops are coming to BBP asking to buy their used products, like tubes and tires. At this moment, there are few other options to get parts.
BBP has felt the pressure of part shortages but is more worried about its annual holiday kid’s bike giveaway in December.
“We’re typically giving away 600 bikes in one day,” Hallyburton said. “If all of a sudden 20-inch tubes, which are starting to get low, start to run out, we’re going to have a really hard time getting all these bikes fixed up… It’s one of those things we’re watching really closely, it hasn’t been a major issue for us yet because we’ve been recycling so many used parts the best we can. But we kind of see that time coming quick.”
BBP sees issues elsewhere
BBP features a place in its shop where team members teach people how to fix bikes. Because of COVID-19 and social distance policies, the team can no longer get close enough to help people.
“We’re worried about all the people who maybe can’t afford to purchase a bike from a bike shop but have an existing one,” he said. “How (are they) going to get those fixed?”
BBP bike sales are up from last year, but part sales are down 50%. Hallyburton thinks this sizable decrease is because fewer people are allowed in at a time.
Around half of BBP’s income comes from used bikes and part sales. The other half comes from events, donations, grants and the $100 membership fee.
“We have no idea how our membership drive is going to go this fall,” Hallyburton said. “We expect our donations to be significantly down this winter especially if there ends up being another significant outbreak… we just don’t know what extra income people are going to have to donate.”
Goathead goes on
BBP has managed and even held a modified version of its Goathead Fest where people never got off their bikes and never got into groups. Around 800 people took part instead of the normal 5,000. According to Hallyburton, this is one of the only major events not postponed or canceled in Boise.
But, like many businesses, BBP is struggling.
“Our events are down, our donations, memberships are down, our bike sales are good, our part sales are down,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that we’re doing great, but I’d say that we are getting by. We’re pinching every penny that we can.”