Update, March 28, 2020: Our message has been heard by the Governor’s office. We’re suspending action and awaiting a response.
We, the undersigned, are members of Michigan’s bicycling community. We write to you today in regard to your “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order 2020-21 and its effects on critical infrastructure workers who commute by bicycle.
The guidance issued by your office yesterday, March 23, in an FAQ included the following statement:
“Workers at bicycle repair shops can be designated as critical infrastructure workers only if they provide maintenance for bicycles that other critical infrastructure workers use to get to their jobs. We expect that this condition will be satisfied very rarely.”
The “satisfied very rarely” clause seems to be driven by perception, not data. In fact, bicycle repair shops serve many customers who use their bicycles to travel to or perform their jobs as critical infrastructure workers. They maintain vehicles for police bicycle patrols, nurses, food service workers, gas station attendants, delivery riders, and many others. With reductions in transit and taxi services across the state, bicycles are an essential component of the transportation system for these workers.
As one example, the following letter is from a customer of SPIN Bicycle Shop in Lansing, MI:
I am a nurse and a bicycle commuter. I ride a bicycle to work every day year round, it is my primary means of transport. My bicycle commute is 20 minutes long, and I get great health benefits from it. I am not exposed to SARS-Cov-2 the way I would potentially be via public transit, and as someone who works in a hospital I do not potentially expose others (keeping in mind that many people with SARS-Cov-2 may be entirely asymptomatic.)
Many others commute by bicycle, and for those who are without income at this time, a bicycle is a safe and economic option for some of the critical errands that we all need to perform.
As I understand it, automobile mechanics are considered essential businesses. For us cyclists, bicycle shops are essential too. Yesterday, March 23rd, I had a split in the cable housing that controls my brakes, this is directly analogous to a leaking brake line in an automobile. Without a bicycle shop to not only get the correct part for me, but to do the work, I would not be able to safely commute.
Bicycles are easy to disinfect with soap and water; the CDC has simple guidance to follow for this. A bike shop worker with curbside or segregated pickup areas who practices these standard precautions would be at less risk than the grocer or auto mechanic who are considered essential.
Please consider bicycles and bicycle shops to be essential at this time, they are very much essential for myself and others at this critical time.
Kevin Kitchel, BSN, RN
Clinical Informatics Educator
McLaren, Greater Lansing
Michigan is currently out of step with the rest of the nation on this issue. In Wisconsin, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, and New York, bicycle retailers and repair shops have been designated as essential transportation businesses and allowed to remain open despite other restrictions on business and travel. Cities such as Philadelphia, Denver, and Boulder have made similar designations.
Wisconsin Emergency Order #12, (Section 13, Essential Businesses and Operations) includes the following exemption for gas stations and businesses needed for transportation: “Gas stations; auto and motorcycle supply, repair and sales; boat supply, repair, and sales; and bicycle supply, repair, and sales.”
Accordingly, we ask that you revise your guidance to instead designate bicycle repair personnel as “employees who repair and maintain vehicles… and the equipment and infrastructure that enables operations that encompass movement of cargo and passengers” as specified in the March 19, 2020 guidance from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
In turn, we pledge to take every precaution possible to reduce the risk of transmission, so that bicycle repair shops can continue to provide this critical infrastructure service while suppressing the spread of COVID-19.