How to ride a bike responsibly during a pandemic

Avoid the package and try a solo ride. And practice cycling safety while you're at it.

Avoid the package and try a solo ride. And practice cycling safety while you're at it. (Jack Young / Unsplash /)

This story first appeared in Walking Cycle. Read more about what cities are like going on bike-friendly roads here.

If you are one of the 2,000 members of the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club and plan a group walk, the president of the club Anne C.M. Hyman doesn't want to know. All official walks and events for the DC / Maryland / Virginia cycling team are canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"All walks led by PPTC members from now until the next notice are not punishable by PPTC approval," Hyman wrote on the club's homepage. "This means that while you have access to your Ride With GPS account and club list to find a route and a friend, if something happens to your riders, the responsibility falls on your shoulders."

Don't think that Hyman is too careful, know that it is approaching not only as a greedy cyclist, triathlete and advocate, but as a laboratory scientist and infectious disease specialist. Or, as he puts it: “I have a doctorate. and background in things that are tiny and want to kill us. "

"When you're on your bike, you're creating a cloud that's causing problems for others around you," he says. Walking Cycle. "You can be an asymptomatic carrier and expose someone and kill them and never know."

The "cloud" to which it refers is your "breathing signature" – the imprint of particles left behind in the air by your mouth and nose from exhalation, speech, coughing and sneezing. While Disease Control and Prevention Centers recommend keeping a six-foot radius from other people to prevent the transmission of the virus, the same buffer – at least in front of or behind a cyclist – is not effective when moving fast.

"On a bike you basically create this path behind you. Not necessarily spread much wider, but when you think about it, you move fast and your breathing signature will still be where you were if you move fast. We have some smart and careful members. Our club who go out and wear masks. Even if you don't wear them all the time, if they notice that they are driving near someone or passing someone, they will put on their mask because they understand, fortunately, they could possibly put on risking someone else overtaking them, ”says Hyman.

The "respiratory signature" consists of the particles left behind by exhalation, speech, coughing and sneezing.

The "respiratory signature" consists of the particles left behind by exhalation, speech, coughing and sneezing. (Juan D. Puerto / Potomac Pedalers Touring Club /)

Several cycling teams advise their members to drive solo as their communities face the pandemic.

Lauren Jenkins, director of communications for the Washington-based League of American Bicyclists, says: your face with a mask or neck, if possible. "

"While most of us love group walks, we have to wait now. "Even with social distance measures, it's even better to throw a solo at the moment," PeopleForBikes said on its website about "Safe cycling during long distances."

The Boulder-based bicycle industry team in Colorado also recommends reducing the intensity of your journey to avoid crashing and unnecessarily burdening a health care system that is already under unprecedented pressure.

Hyman agrees. "Healthcare systems have been maximized so far. "The last thing they want to see is a cyclist."

"Right now, it's worth riding too carefully, including riding in your skills (to minimize the risk of injury) and riding close to home," says Jenkins of the League. "It simply came to our notice then. It is good for your physical and mental health. "

Here Volta Cycle & # 39; s State of origin, the California Bicycle Coalition (also known as CalBike) offers similar guidance.

"Walk alone or only with quarantined people. Keep in mind to maintain a natural distance of at least six feet from others on the road. Avoid following other riders closely. Don't go for organized group walks ", advises CalBike. "Also, don't be bold. Now is not the time to test your limits and risk a broken bone or other injuries that would require a visit to the hospital. "

But is solo and riding quite careful enough? Hyman suggests additional measures:

  • Walk early or off peak hours for cyclists and pedestrians on local trails, trails and roads. "You don't want to be outside when it's a dog watch," he says.
  • If you see other people, keep at least 40 to 60 feet in front of you.
  • Follow internal virtual training to maintain team dynamics. (Hyman takes a weekly 50-mile Zwift ride with her team at the triathlon.)
  • Practice cycling skills outside – turning at different speeds, turning small circles, holding lines and braking panic.
  • Consider local rules and restrictions. "Don't think just because you're a cyclist, the world is open to you," says Hyman.
  • Use good hygiene if you stop somewhere. When you get home, wash the entire kit and frame of your bike. Get rid of sweat and mucous membranes from the bike.

Safe, responsible driving out there, everyone!