Jim Dodson: Hi, it's Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. I want to talk to you a little bit about three good things that have occurred because of this crisis we're in. You know, I think we're surrounded by so much negative information and so much negative news. In sort of looking over what I've seen and read over the last week or so, three things really jumped out to me that have been helpful, and I think will be trend towards something positive coming out of this in the long run.
The first is that bicycle use is up dramatically. I had a neighbor who has a couple of bikes. He's a retired guy. He and his wife had bikes in their garage, tires were flat, this is a typical story that's going on in every bike shop across the country right now. And I volunteered to help load them up and take them to the bike shop close to us to get the tires repaired and what have you. He's someone who hadn't ridden a bike in 10 years. So our bicycle shops in all of our communities are inundated right now with people just like my neighbor who have decided this is, "I've got time on my hands. "This is a great time to get out on the bike, "get some exercise, get some fresh air, "and get out of the house."
So, you know, I've read some very interesting stats. We're gonna reach out to bike shops in the coming couple of days to kinda of get a flavor of what's going on in our local communities. I've read an article recently about a shop that had 700 bikes that were all pre-ordered, and all claimed for when they arrived. My son-in-law has, of course, they have four girls, and he went down last week and got bikes for three of them. You know, they're always outgrowing bikes, and the bike shop there in Tampa said he'd never sold as many bicycles in his career as he had since all this began. A lot of bike shops have two-week wait if you call to get your bike tuned up or repaired, some of them are having a two-week wait just because of the flow of traffic they're seeing. One thing, I think, that they're seeing is that the bulk of these sales from what I'm seeing were for the family type bike in the neighborhood. You know, not your high-end carbon frame road bike, but your family cruising bike, and that's what was making up. So while they weren't selling a lot of the high-end bikes, they're making it up volume on some of the less expensive models. So I think the positive of all this is people are getting out of the house, or getting on a bike, they're getting exercise, and sort of focusing on family activity, doing things together.
I think that for those of us who ride bikes regularly, you're gonna notice people who aren't accustomed to being on the road, because they typically won't have a helmet on, they won't be wearing bright clothing. They probably won't have lights on their bike, and they're unpredictable when they ride. So we just need to be aware of this. I think Mark Schafer commented on this down at the Bella recently, about he was staying away from the trail, just because of the volume of the people on the trail, just like this, and other people walking. So, that's a bit of a mixed bag, but I think overall it's a good thing that we have this really upswell in people kinda getting out and taking control of their lives a little better by learning biking. Hopefully they'll come to our website, and some other places, and learn what they need to do to do it safely for them and for others.
So, the second thing that has really, everybody who's riding a bike is talking about this, is that there's no cars on the road. You know, my ride down Gulf Boulevard on the weekends, when I do the longer rides, I can ride two or three miles many times in the car lane and there's no car coming. It makes riding really, really relaxing, and that's all a very good thing. The bad thing is, it indicates how little people are getting out and going, they're not going to a restaurant, or going to work, or going for pleasure to do anything. So the negative side is that people have nowhere to go, the flip side is that the roads are empty.
You wouldn't, you know, the assumption, of course, is that there are less crashes. I know for a fact there are many fewer motor vehicle crashes. I don't know, for a fact, what it has done, or what it will do, for bicycle versus car, truck, or some other type of bike collision. Interestingly, in New York City, there's some data showing that even though traffic is down substantially in New York, bike crashes were up markedly, like 40% in one study I'd found. I haven't seen any data locally, it's really quick to get data out within six weeks of something happening, but you know, intuitively, the people who do the work that I do as an injury lawyer will tell you that people are just not calling because they're not having car crashes, or what have you, which is good for people, they're remaining safe.
One thing that's come out of the decrease in traffic, of course, which is great is if you've paid attention, the big insurance companies are issuing rebates. I know my insurance company's going to issue a rebate of 20% of the average bill over the last two months. I know all the State Farm, All State, they've all announced doing this kind of thing. For them to do it, you know, there's gotta be a marked downturn in their claim history going on, or they would not be doing it. That's kind of an amazing thing, and I think it's a good thing that will come out, it comes at a great time for people who have maybe prepaid their insurance, will get a nice rebate back from their carrier.
So, bike use is up, traffic is down. The third thing, which has been fascinating to me, and it's unrelated the the first two, is that people are coming together in new and different ways. You know, I think a time like this really, this is a forced period of really focusing on what's important in our lives, and that's relationships, connecting with people, being with people. We can't do the normal connection that we do for people, and so I know in our church there are people that are just doing regular call-outs to people over 60, people over 70. This has been a great thing. My wife's involved in that project, and just reaching out, the tone of voice that you get, and the appreciation from people, having someone check on them has been pretty amazing.
People, you know, we have tended to communicate too much, quite frankly, by text message, which is cold and leaves out inflection. You can't determine what someone's, the voice inflection that they have. I always tell clients in our practice, I need to listen to how an adjuster says what they say, rather than what they say. The tone of voice means everything, and tone of voice is what you get when you talk to someone on the telephone, and lo and behold, we're talking to each other by phone dramatically more than we did before this all started. I saw a stat recently that Verizon reports that, I think there was 800 million calls a day, daily, which is double what they were having for Mother's Day. So Mother's Day is probably the number one day of the year when people are making phone calls, and currently we're doing nearly double that rate of phone calls, and I know it's because we have time on our hands. Many people are not working, but they're doing it, they're communicating with one another. And the other interesting thing is that Verizon said, is that the average length of the phone call has gone up nearly 40%. So we're calling more often, and we're speaking longer to one another when we do that.
It's a wonderful, you know, when you talk to someone on the phone, you have a sense of what their emotional state is. You know right away. You can tell in someone's voice right away what's going on, if they're having some issue that you need to encourage them with, they're down, or they're up, or whatever it is. And that's so unique about phones, and it's so unique about this period we're in right now, this prolonged period of reaching out to one another, kind of circling what's important, and focusing on families.
I also saw a very interesting article about the effect of this type of crisis, this type of period in our lives, and it's affect on marriage. These situations tend, well, they tend to do two things. To people that have difficult relationships, sometimes it forces, the difficulties become bigger. But in more times out of ten, people turn from being self-centered, to others-centered. Isn't that interesting? So we focus on the people that are important in our lives, our children, our spouse. And this writer of this particular article said that after the 2008 financial crisis that marriage, or divorce, or the dissolution of marriage dropped in the United States nearly 20% over that next decade. Pretty fascinating. And this writer said that he believes that the same thing will happen after this crisis, as well, that we're gonna actually see marriages become stronger as people focus less on themselves, and more on what makes a marriage work, how we need to work together, teamwork, the importance of family, the importance of pulling together for a common purpose. All those things strengthen the bonds of marriage, and make them stronger, and hopefully I'm hopeful that what he's predicting, what this guy was predicting, we'll see it in less and less divorce, and more stable marriages. It's great for everyone.
So, I thought it'd be good to hear some good news. I was encouraged by these stories. This is, I continue to remind each of us to be encouraging to one another. I wanna be encouraging to you. We need to be encouraging to one another when you're making those phone calls, and you hear that tone of voice, the person needs some encouragement, give it to them. You know, sometimes you have to convince yourself to be encouraged. Being positive in how you approach the situation. We don't have control over any of these situations. I was talking to the guy at the dry cleaners this morning, he said business was down 75% for them. But he's like, "What are you gonna do? "You know, we're all in this together." He couldn't pay his rent. He said, "That's gonna have to be taken care of. "I'm taking care of my employees." So, just being positive, even though everything around us isn't positive, and encouraging one another. You know, this is a reminder that we're all in the same boat, and we're gonna come out of it on the other end. Every day that passes is a day sooner that things will begin to turn back to the state of being what we consider to be normal. It's a time for us focusing on what matters, and focusing on one another, and focusing on family and faith, and friendships, and the things that will last. And I'm convinced that we do these things, we remain positive, optimistic looking forward, supporting one another, encouraging one another, at the end of this period of time, however long this lasts, we're gonna be better for it, and quite frankly, I hope that the country, the nation, would be better for it. That we'll be less focused on what divides us, and more focused on what unites us and pulls us together, and the direction we need to go for the common good.
So, those are my thoughts on three things that have come out of the crisis that, I think, have been positive, give us hope, give us encouragement. I'd like to hear from you. If there's something you want me to talk about, if you have an encouraging story, I'd love to hear it. I'm Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. I'll look for you, take care, bye.