Bike rental business on the Toronto Islands struggling to attract customers
Toronto Island Park has been open to the public since ferry service to the islands resumed on June 27, but business at Toronto Island Bicycle Rental has failed to bounce back in the way owner Jay Rao had hoped.
"We expected it to be slower than normal, but we are surprised that we are not even close to the 5,000 person daily capacity on the island," Rao said.
"Our business is down 75 per cent and it's sad that this beautiful place is just deserted like a ghost town."
The bike rental service has been offering bicycles, tandems and quadricycles to the public every summer since 1984.
Rao's family has been running the business since the beginning, and he said they pride themselves on being able to help create lasting memories for families every summer.
But this year, thanks to the pandemic as well as the fact that the majority of their business comes from families and tourists, customers just aren't showing up.
"We know everyone has their own comfort level of being out and about this year and, having seen news coverage of overcrowding at Trinity Bellwood's and the Beaches, they may be worried about the same situation on the island," Rao said.
"However, with all the parkland and beachfront and the reduced capacity the city has put into place, there is no need to worry about physical distancing here."
Rao added that they've implemented numerous COVID-19 measures so customers can be sure the rental experience will be safe, including the implementation of physical distancing when renting and returning equipment, signage and arrows to direct renters so that crowding is avoided, and the cleaning of all equipment upon return.
Tandems and quadricycles are also reserved for members of the same household, cyclists are being advised to bring their own helmets, and staff members are wearing protective visors.
On top of these measures, Toronto Public Health has repeatedly told the public that cycling is one of the best, safest ways to get fresh air and exercise amid the pandemic.
Cycling has many benefits for our physical and mental health, and it's a great way to stay active while physically distancing outside. For a map of all of the City's ActiveTO installations and to learn more about the expanded cycling network visit https://t.co/dFtrtqg7Ro pic.twitter.com/xN1Ue7CVA0— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) July 5, 2020
Rao said biking is an "easy and fun way to keep the whole family sane," and he added that staying active and getting fresh air is a great way to strengthen the immune system and ward off illness.
"Every summer we love seeing all the families and helping put a smile on their faces," Rao said.
"We are taking every precaution to keep our customers safe and really miss seeing everyone enjoying the island."
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