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Thursday, 28 May 2020 23:51

Social Distancing While Biking

Bicycling Safely During Covid-19

We don't know how long social distancing guidelines will continue, but social distancing, even while biking, will most likely continue for the foreseeable future.

According to the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike), "[o]ne of the more confusing parts of our [social distancing] directives is to stay six feet away from others. But how does that really work when you're out riding with others at a steady [15mph]? We've found some interesting studies that have been looking into the aerodynamics of particles when someone is running or biking. Research from one study from Belgium advises that for walking, the distance of people moving in the same direction in one line should be at least [12-15 feet], for running and slow biking it should be [30 feet], and for hard biking at least [60 feet]." Those distances are difficult to maintain in a city or on busy path.

Social Distancing by Bike, How Close it Too Close?1

Illustration of the aerodynamics of particles when someone is running or biking. Image Source: Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, University of Technology

... this study can't take into account the turbulence and side winds that blow particularly strong in Massachusetts, but it's food for thought to give you an idea of factors to consider. Basically, in our eyes, six feet is not enough when riding behind someone else, so use your good judgement. That means no more pelotons, no more drafting, and give wide separation when even riding side by side. Frankly, the best way to stay as safe as possible is to simple ride alone or with people in your household you are already quarantined with.

 

According to Cycling News, the "well-intended study created plenty of fear," yet they do advocate wearing masks while riding to protect others. However, some mask materials can be hard to breathe through and the build-up of moisture inside the mask could be less effective as uncomfortablen while riding. A stretchy neck gaiter that you can pull up over your nose and mouth which allows you to drop and raise the mask as you find yourself close to other people is a good option. Additionally, evidence indicates that the virus can also find its way in through your eyes, so eye protection is recommended as well.

Allan Lim, founder of Skratch Labs, takes the homemade face mask to a higher level by adding a waterproof barrier to the front of the gaiter for greater protection. "For a homemade face mask to really work, it needs to stop the water droplets formed by sneezing or coughing. Thus, a waterproof barrier is everything. But, it also has to be breathable, secure, and comfortable."

Waterproof Face Mask Video:

Safe Riding Guidelines During Covid-19

A group of riding clubs and advocacy organizations recommend the following additional guidelines when riding:

  1. Ride solo, or with those with whom you're already quarantined.
  2. Carry all you'll need to reduce interacting with other people.
  3. Take the path less traveled and find places that have open space.
  4. Ride with caution, since our medical community is already overburdened you really don't want to end up in a hospital.
  5. Wash your hands.
  6. Wear a mask even if you're not feeling sick. We should all be mindful that we may be carrying the disease.
  7. If you're sick, stay home. Do not ride if you are ill or experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.

 

While social distancing may continue, there are three simple things to think about when you ride: choose the right route for your experience level, follow bike safety and rules of the road, and enjoy the ride.


 1 Source:Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition 

This article was orginally part of our Rules of the Road for Bicylists story.

Read 812 times Last modified on Thursday, 30 July 2020 23:00
More in this category: « Rules of the Road for Motorists

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