Due to high risk of getting infected with coronavirus on public transports, many city-dwellers now consider bicycle as their preferred mode of transport to go to workplaces or other destinations.
As almost all the offices have reopened after Eid-ul-Fitr and cases of Covid-19 have risen, many office-goers are in dilemma about getting on public buses where social distancing guidelines are hardly maintained.
Against the backdrop of a changed scenario of maintaining distance with others and increased sense of hygiene among conscious people, the demand for bicycles has increased in recent weeks, bicycle traders said.
President of the Bangladesh Bicycle Merchants, Assembling & Importers Association (BBMAIA) Mizanur Rahman Babul said bicycle outlets have started opening shutters after Eid and seeing potential buyers over the last 10 days.
"Though most shops were closed for two months, traders expect an increase in sales in the coming days as people don't want to get on bus in fear of coming into contact with coronavirus," he told the FE.
Habibul Islam Jahid, proprietor of Cycle Heaven located in the city's Bangshal said, "Many people came to my showroom in the last couple of days to buy bicycles while some are also contacting us on Facebook page for home delivery."
He mentioned that most people are buying locally-made bicycles priced in between Tk 15,000 and Tk 20,000; while budget bicycles are selling from Tk 8,000 to Tk 12,000 and imported bicycles of different brands are priced from Tk 25,000 to Tk 65,000.
Mohammad Sujan, an employee of a private firm who used to commute to Kakrail from Badda, said due to coronavirus pandemic, it is quite risky to travel by bus. Bus fare has been increased by 60 per cent while rickshaw is also expensive, he said.
"That's why I bought a bike few days before Eid that helps me avoid potential places to get the disease and allows me have some exercise too," he added.
However, the World Bicycle Day 2020 was observed on June 3 to promote the use of bicycle as it is environment-friendly means of transport as well as affordable.
In a statement on the day, Poribesh Bachao Andolon (POBA) said bicycle is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally-fit sustainable means of transport while cycling can be a weapon against the virus.
Cycling has been recommended both as a mode of transport and as a way of staying healthy during the global crisis caused by the novel coronavirus, it said.
Marking the day, BD Cyclist, a platform that has been promoting cycling in the city since 2011, wrote on its Facebook page: due to coronavirus pandemic, cycling has been making headlines as megacities around the world have opened their streets partially to fully for cycles.
"People are avoiding public transports to be safe from contagious Covid-19 and bicycle has become first choice for alternative commute," it added.
Talking to the FE, Aminul Islam, President of Bangladesh Cycle Lane Bastabayan Parishad (BCLBP), said separate lane in the capital is needed to help protect the environment and improve public health.
During the coronavirus pandemic, cycling should be promoted more than ever to contain the spread of the virus by discouraging people to use public transports, he viewed.
At present, nearly 20 companies in the country are manufacturing bicycles for both the domestic and global market.
Meghna Group, PRAN-RFL Group, H Bicycles Ltd, Siraj Bicycles, Alita Bangladesh Ltd, and Firefox Bikes are manufacturing bicycles for the export market.
According to Bangladesh Bicycles and Parts Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BBPMEA), bicycle manufacturers export more than 1.6 million bicycles every year.
Kamruzzaman Kamal, marketing director of PRAN-RFL Group, told the FE that due to the pandemic, many people now prefer to ride on bicycle which has created a good demand for the environment-friendly product.
He said Duranta Bicycle, a subsidy of the group, sees good business ahead with increased sales in the domestic market while the company also eyes growth in the global market.
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Senior Research Fellow Dr. Nazneen Ahmed at a recent programme proposed tax cut in sale of bicycles to help people avoid unhygienic public transport and maintain social distance that reduces the chance of getting infected with Covid-19.