Think of the things that we've had shortages of already this year. Hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, toilet paper. Now get ready for the next hard-to-find item. Bicycles.

Yes, you read that right. Bicycles are becoming increasingly hard to find in some places.

I noticed when I was in one of the big box stores the other day that their bicycle area was nearly empty. Then when I was visiting one of the local bicycle specialty shops for a couple small items I asked how things were going during the great pandemic of 2020. The owner smiled and said, "Great! We can't put 'em together fast enough."

What's taking place in Wichita Falls seems to be taking place in other places as well. A friend forwarded me a story from cnn.com with the owner of Urban Bicycle Gallery in Houston saying, "Bikes are like the new toilet paper. If it's available, buy it."

I believe it, too. On my rides along the Wichita Falls Circle Trail I'm seeing a lot of individuals and quite a few families taking advantage of time away from work by spending it outside with their kids.

While I'm happy to see so many new riders one thing is a little bit troubling. Many of them aren't wearing helmets. I know the logic, they're just on the Circle Trail, they're only going 4 miles an hour, if they fall they'll just scrape a knee and ride on. Besides, helmets cost money. Most of those things are true, but ask ANY experienced rider and they'll tell you the single most important cycling accessory is a helmet. It's not a question of IF you're going to fall, it's a question of WHEN you're going to fall. And when a child topples over, even at 0 miles per hour on the Circle Trail, that concrete is hard. A simple brain bucket, skid lid, or child sized helmet can make the difference between a scraped elbow with a colorful band-aid and a trip to the emergency room to treat a head injury.

It's great seeing an increased in interest in cycling, so by all means get a bike and get the whole family out riding together. Just remember to get helmets for everyone while you're at it.

Dave Diamond