In March, nationwide sales of bicycles, equipment and repair services nearly doubled compared with the same period last year, according to the N.P.D. Group, a market research company. Sales of commuter and fitness bikes in the same month increased 66 percent, leisure bikes jumped 121 percent, children’s bikes went up 59 percent and electric bikes rose 85 percent…

“I have never seen anything remotely approaching this,” said Ryan Zagata, president of Brooklyn Bicycle Company, where sales have soared by more than 600 percent this year compared with the same period in 2019. “If you went into a store three weeks ago you could find a bike under $1,000. Right now shelves are bare.”

The spike in sales comes on the heels of stay-at-home orders that have temporarily curtailed daily life, but that may permanently transform the role of bicycles into something more essential, including a safer alternative to public transit as the nation slowly begins to reopen.