As COVID-19 continues to make changes to our everyday lives, we are all looking for a sense of normalcy and stress relief. At Epic Cycles, we know how important the freedom of bike riding can be especially in times like these. But how can you ride your bike safely without endangering yourself or others? We know you have questions and we’ve put together our best resources to keep you safe, healthy and continuing to ride the bikes you love.
In this blog, we’ll discuss questions about bike riding safety during social distancing, extra precautions you should take and the best ways to minimize risk to yourself and others.
Related article: Health Benefits of Riding an E-bike
Is there a ban on outdoor activities?
Currently, outdoor exercise is still recommended by the Canadian government. However, extreme caution must be practiced, and some people should not be going out at all.
People who should avoid going out for any reason, include anyone who has:
- Been in contact with an infected person in the last 14 days
- Exhibited symptoms of the virus including fever
- Been diagnosed with the virus
- Been outside the country in the last 14 days
If you do not fall into any of the above categories then, yes, bike riding is a good exercise option as long as you follow certain precautions. Basic precautions include practicing proper hygiene and handwashing, avoiding groups and minimizing the risk of injury.
Rules and regulations about permitted activities during social distancing have changed rapidly over the last several weeks. Here, we’ll give you some of the most common rules across the nation but for the most up to date measures for your province, visit Canada.Ca COVID Resources.
Where should I ride my bike?
This can be tricky to answer and will depend on where you live. Most public trails and parks are currently closed to help prevent the spread of the virus and it is not recommended for riders to travel far for bike riding. The safest and most responsible option is riding your bike close to home during hours when the fewest people are out such as early morning.
Can I ride in a group?
With everyone being more isolated, we are all looking for ways to connect. Unfortunately, a group bike riding experience is not a good option. While a distance of 2 meters from other people in public has become the standard rule during the pandemic, that is much harder to control when in motion on a bike.
If a bike path is crowded even with a small group, it can make it much more difficult to maintain proper distance. Additionally, bike riders may not be able to cover their mouths if they sneeze or cough while riding. Droplets from these have the potential to travel even further on the wind.
Instead, go riding alone, keep your distance from any other riders and try to go riding at non-peak times.
Will wearing a mask keep me safe from other riders?
In short, no. While an N95 mask does work to filter particles in the air, they can make breathing difficult during physical activity like bike riding, so they are not recommended. Also, with the current shortage of these masks, it is better to leave them for medical professionals.
For most, cloth masks are more readily available or can be made by hand. These types of masks are most beneficial in keeping other people safe from your germs if you cough or sneeze. They are not considered effective for stopping particles from reaching your nose and mouth.
According to CDC Guidelines for Face Masks, a cloth mask is not a substitute for keeping proper distance. These should really only be used when you absolutely need to be in a public place where social distancing is not possible. Wearing one while riding will have little to no benefit.
How careful do I need to be about touching things?
As the COVID virus is still very new to medical and scientific professionals, many things are not yet understood about how it is contracted. This includes murky information about how long the virus can exist on different objects.
Overall, it is best to err on the side of caution. If you touch anything while out on your bike ride, avoid touching your face after. As soon as possible, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, which is the recommended time for proper hand cleaning.
How is Coronavirus spread?
While some information is not yet known about how COVID-19 spreads, the World Health Organization does say that it is spread from person to person through bodily fluids. Those fluids include saliva and discharge from the nose.
These droplets are too heavy to stay in the air for long, but you can breathe them in if you are within 1 meter of someone who is coughing or sneezing. This is why a minimum of 2 meters of distance is critical to staying safe.
You can also be infected by touching a surface that has the droplets on it and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes. It is still not known exactly how long the virus will survive on different surfaces. When in doubt, avoid touching your face and wash your hands as soon as possible.
Will exercise help sweat the virus out?
The myth that exercise can help to burn away illness is only partially true. According to Medical News Today exercise can be beneficial for a common cold which includes symptoms like a runny nose, cough and congestion. However, if you are running a fever and/or have chest or stomach pain along with other flu-like symptoms, exercise can do more harm than good.
For those who have or suspect they have the COVID virus or the flu, exercise should be avoided. As Covid’s symptoms center on the lungs, physical activity is likely to exacerbate breathing difficulty. However, if your symptoms are mild and you feel like you need exercise, try walking slowly at first.
If you begin to feel any tightening in the chest or shortness of breath, stop your physical activity. If you continue having difficulty breathing after stopping, it may be time to call the doctor. Learn more about when experts say you should seek medical help for coronavirus.
What to Take When Biking Alone
Bike safety is always important, and every rider should be prepared to perform minor bike fixes and basic first aid. Ideally, plan to bring everything with you that you will need to avoid stopping in a store. Safety gear and emergency supplies include:
- Helmet and knee/elbow pads
- Working headlight and reflective gear for night rides
- First aid kit with bandages, antibiotics, pain relievers, etc.
- Bike repair kit including a tire patch and tools.
- Your cell phone – also, let someone know where you are going and specify a time you will call them by when you get back.
- Water/sports drink to stay hydrated. This is always important but is especially important now as you will want to avoid stopping in a store to get these items while on your ride.
- Bike bell – typically used to alert other riders and pedestrians that you are coming through, this can now be a good way to signal for someone to keep their distance from you.
Why is it so important to be extra careful now?
- As hospitals contend with higher volumes of COVID patients, it may take longer to get treatment for bike-related injuries.
- Even with the best precautions taken, a trip to a medical facility with COVID patients will increase the likelihood of you contracting the virus.
- There is widespread uncertainty about available goods and services. If you injure yourself or are unable to repair a minor problem with your bike, it may not be easy to get alternate transportation. Contacting a friend or family member to come to get you may also violate social rules and put you both at greater risk.
A Special Note on Safety
It is more important than ever to take precautions and use proper protective gear when bike riding or doing any kind of activity. Our available healthcare resources are already under stress from the increased number of coronavirus patients filling our hospitals. One way to do our part is to avoid other injuries that would require a doctor’s visit.
Even if you live in a province where bike helmets are not mandatory, consider wearing one now. Other protective gear like knee and elbow pads could also minimize injuries. Now is also a good time to stick to paths that you know well. Exploring rugged, out of the way terrain might be tempting but it could increase your chances of injury. Similarly, avoid biking outside during rainy or icy weather that can make the roads more dangerous.
Can you ride your bike during the coronavirus? Currently, yes you can, however; the situation is rapidly evolving, and you should check in with your local guidelines before striking out on the road.
The options for places to ride are limited and extreme caution should also be taken. Avoid dangerous trails, pack everything you need to avoid having to stop in a store and continue practicing safe distancing while riding.
While bike riding is still an option, consider limiting how often you go outside. Incorporate other indoor exercises to stay healthy while also staying safe.
Related article: Using an E-bike in Canada: Safety Tips and Precautions