Youngsters say cycling is ‘too scary’, bike sales are static and stores are closing, as highlighted by James Corden last week.

It was a small, handwritten notice taped to the window of a shop but it spoke volumes. “For 2019 switch off your device, learn to talk to people again. Use your local shops.

If its [sic] cheaper online save up and buy local, remember they are familys [sic], not faceless companies.

More convenient online? Don’t be lazy go and get it local. Do more to protect our society this year.”

The message from Paul Duncan, owner of Pauls Custom Cycles in Peckham, south London, which closed just before Christmas, was picked up by the presenter James Corden, who posted it on his Twitter feed last week with the comment: “This is a recently closed down shop in London. I think they may have a point… thanks for sharing.”

Corden’s tweet, which went viral, sparking a predictable row about millionaire expats lecturing others on how to spend their money, is another reminder of the continuing plight of Britain’s beleaguered bicycle shops.

Across the country, cycle shops that have been a regular fixture of their local high streets for decades are closing down in their droves.

The bikebiz website regularly tracks closures, compiling an increasingly long list of names.

In the last couple of years many illustrious shops have disappeared, including the 105 – year-old Ben Hayward Cycles in Cambridge and M Steel Cycles on Tyneside, which had been trading since 1894.

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In November, the oldest bike shop in Bath, Johns Bikes, which had been trading since the Seventies and once had a turnover of £1m a year, closed.

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