A giant cargo ship the length of four football fields, the Ever Given, is blocking the Suez Canal for a third day
, disrupting the flow of what is estimated to be more than $9 billion USD in goods each day.
12% of all global maritime trade passes through the Suez Canal, a narrow man-made passageway from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and the shortest sea route from Asia to Europe. Some experts say that freeing the ship could take days or even weeks, creating ripple effects throughout essentially all global industries.
The pandemic and resulting bike shortage have exposed points in the bike supply chain that were susceptible to bottlenecks, and we can expect this disruption to further exacerbate the shortages. We can add this to the long list of reasons bikes and parts are on backorder: unprecedented demand due to COVID, increased tariffs and new hurdles due to Brexit, and much more.
While we didn’t need a gaffe of this magnitude to remind us we can’t get bike parts, this situation highlights yet another vulnerability in the bike supply chain.
So far, a small fleet of tugboats, dredgers, and other heavy equipment has worked unsuccessfully to free the ship, which was reportedly blown off course by strong winds. There has been no progress. The resulting traffic jam now includes about 150 ships, at least eight of which are carrying live animals. The Ever Given weighs about 200,000 metric tons -- equivalent to more than 14 million mountain bikes, to put it in familiar terms (using 30 lbs / 14 kg as a rough estimated bike weight). A similar recovery effort near a German port in 2016 took nearly a week and 12 tugboats
to unf*ck the boat.
And if a major shipping catastrophe in the midst of a global pandemic and widespread economic uncertainty wasn’t enough, the story gets even stranger. In light of the ship’s NSFW tracklog
prior to becoming the world’s largest beached whale, should we have seen this coming?
We have reached out to several major European brands to see if and how this may affect the bike industry. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.