Why Switzerland is running out of bicycles

A ‘higher than ever’ demand for bicycles due to the pandemic has led to bottlenecks and waiting times. Retailers are warning that the country is set to run out.

Why Switzerland is running out of bicycles
Photo: Harold Cunningham / AFP

Concerned about the risk of catching coronavirus on public transport, Swiss have made the shift to two wheels. 

As a result, Switzerland is suffering an “unprecedented” bicycle shortage – with some retailers warning that the country will run out of bikes by the spring and prices are set to skyrocket. 

Bike demand has surged since the spring of 2020 – and manufacturers have been unable to keep up. 

READ MORE: Seven reasons why Switzerland is paradise for cyclists 

Swiss online retailer Digitec Galaxus told 20 Minutes the “selection of bikes is set to be sparse by summer”, but that a shortage can be expected as early as March. 

Retailers are struggling to get enough bikes and bike parts from manufacturers, with demand strong across Europe due to the pandemic. 

Swiss bike spokesperson Martin Platter warned “the manufacturers of bicycles and components are faced with an unprecedented level of demand.”

But it is not only higher demand which will see an increase in prices. The impact of the pandemic on international logistics is also pushing up prices on bikes in Switzerland. 

“The prices for container transport between Asia and Europe have risen from $1,600 (CHF1425) to as much as $11,000 (CHF9797),” Platter said. 

Online bike dealer Marc Honegger, who runs Markenbikeoutlet, told 20 Minutes that anyone wanting to cycle in spring or summer should take advantage of the current cold weather and make an order now. 

“I would recommend looking now” Honegger said. 

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Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I’m abroad?

Given how expensive health insurance premiums are in Switzerland, you may be tempted to suspend your policy while you are abroad. Is this possible?

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I'm abroad?

Unlike the obligatory car insurance, which you can suspend temporarily by depositing your registration plates at the local motor vehicles office, rules pertaining to health insurance are much stricter.

As the Federal Office of Public Health explains it, “If you leave the country for a certain period to travel or study but do not take up residence abroad, you are still required to have [health] insurance in Switzerland”.

In other words, as long as you are a registered resident of Switzerland, regardless of your nationality or passport, you must keep your compulsory Swiss health insurance and pay your premiums. While you do this, you also remain covered against most medical emergencies while you travel.

However, rules are less stringent for supplemental health plans which can, in some cases, be put on hold, depending on the insurance provider, according to Switzerland’s Moneyland consumer website.

The only exception allowed for suspending the health insurance coverage is during a military or civil protection service which lasts more than 60 consecutive days.

“During these periods, the risks of illness and accident are covered by military insurance. Your health insurance provider will refund your premiums”, according to FOPH.

Under what circumstances can you cancel your Swiss health insurance?

Swiss law says you can cancel your insurance if you are moving abroad, either permanently for for a period exceeding three months.

If you do so, only claims for treatments given while you still lived in Switzerland will be paid by your insurance; any medical bills for treatment incurred after you officially leave will be denied.

These are the procedures for cancelling your compulsory health insurance if you leave the country under conditions mentioned above

To announce your departure abroad, you must send your insurance carrier a letter including your name, customer number or AVS/AHV number.

You must also include a certificate from your place of residence in Switzerland confirming that you have de-registered from your current address, as well as the date of your departure.

Note, however, that if your new destination is another Swiss community / canton, rather than a foreign country, your insurance can only be cancelled from the following calendar year and only if you present proof of having taken up a new policy with another company.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to register your address in Switzerland

You can find out more information about this process here

If you suspend your health insurance for less than six years, you can reactivate it at a later date with the same company when you return to Switzerland.

READ MORE : What you should know about your Swiss health insurance before you go abroad