Bikes have a bit of an edge over other kinds of exercise right now. Unlike sports like football or volleyball, biking doesn't rely on you spending time with others, and even if you bike with others, you aren't touching anybody else's equipment. Want to pretend your neighborhood park is the Tour de France? Experts say that if you want to go for a socially distant bike ride during the coronavirus pandemic, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure everyone stays safe. (Including wearing your helmet.)
Is It Safe To Go For A Bike Ride?
Bike riding may feel like an escape, but you have to remember to maintain the same rules as you would for any other kind of outdoor exercise. And that includes wearing a mask outside. "Behavior absolutely drives infection," Dr. Larry Burchett M.D., an emergency physician, tells Bustle. "Theoretically, if you are always six feet away, a mask may not be necessary — but we don't want to spread this thing, so when around others, I'd keep the mask on and play it safe."
Picking a quiet place to ride is a good start for ensuring a safe bike ride. "Ideally, find an outdoor space that’s not crowded by avoiding popular trails and parks, especially during peak hours," Dr. Sachin Nagrani M.D., medical director of telehealth service Heal, tells Bustle. The coronavirus spreads through droplets exhaled by people with the virus, so you should avoid the places where everybody and their dog is out for a run or a ride.
If you're on your own, maintain social distance from other riders and pedestrians, and always look ahead of you to anticipate oncoming traffic. Dr. Nagrani also says to play safe to avoid injuries. "Remember to hydrate and wear sunscreen," he says. You don't want to go to the hospital with dehydration, serious scrapes, or any other issue at the moment.
Is It Safe To Go Bike Riding With Friends?
Solo bike riding may be the best way to go right now. "It’s safe to ride your bike outside during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s highly recommended that you do so alone," Dr. Robert Quigley M.D., senior vice president and medical director of medical emergency logistics service International SOS, tells Bustle. "Participating in group riding (even if done so in a single file line, at six feet apart) or any group activity for that matter, increases the risk of an asymptomatic person spreading the virus to others." The risk of infection may be heightened when you breathe heavily, he says, because it could make respiratory drops fly further. It's not known exactly how likely infection with coronavirus might be from this kind of transmission, but it's worth taking into consideration.
You should also avoid interacting with any surfaces when you take breaks. Dr. Quigley recommends that you avoid touching your face while riding, and carry hand sanitizer; clip it onto your handlebars if you're a regular rider.
Once you get back from your bike ride, Dr. Quigley says, you should do a full clean-down to make sure you're not bringing the virus into the house. "This means disinfecting handlebars, seats, brakes and any other commonly touched surfaces on your bike," he says. "Post-exercise, be sure to shower immediately, wash your clothes and disinfect any cycling specific equipment such as gloves, sunglasses, helmets, jackets, etc." It may sound like a lot, but if somebody has sneezed or coughed on your stuff, the virus can survive on it for at least several days.
Dr. Larry Burchett M.D.
Dr. Sachin Nagrani M.D.
Dr. Robert Quigley M.D.