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Keep these things in mind if you get on your bike during the outbreak

Posted by on March 17th, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Current conditions at Smith & Bybee Lakes.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Coffee stops have become picnic stops instead. I bring a thermos with hot tea in my handlebar bag… We sit a little further apart as we drink our tea.”
— Jan Heine, Rene Herse Cycles

There’s a surreal silver lining to the virus crisis sweeping our country right now: In a world where many things are now forbidden, cycling is not only still possible, it’s endorsed by public health authorities for its immune-boosting and mental health benefits.

Yesterday I snuck out to one of my go-to north Portland destinations: Smith & Bybee Lakes. As I shared back in 2011, by linking up several different paths you can get out there on a mostly carfree route once you get out of the neighborhoods.

If you’re still able to get out there and ride, please arm yourself with knowledge about the coronavirus and how to stay safe while riding. Many local ride organizers have cancelled even small group rides. Going solo or with just one other person you know seems to be the chosen alternative.

As Bicycle Quarterly publisher Jan Heine wrote recently, we must adjust to new realities. “Coffee stops have become picnic stops instead,” he wrote on his blog, “I bring a thermos with hot tea in my handlebar bag… We sit a little further apart as we drink our tea.”

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Another thing to keep in mind is you should take it easy out there. As reader Chris shared yesterday, this isn’t a good time to take risks. “I was initially excited about the arrival of mountain biking season, as I was thinking of it as one of the more pandemic-resistant activities due to distance from others,” he shared. “But then I considered the prospect of breaking my wrist or collarbone in a fall, and then having to go to the ICU to occupy medical resources that will be needed to manage covid, while also exposing myself to the virus.”

Still need guidance or a nudge? Check out what local bike club and apparel company Roule is doing.

When they launched in 2018, Roule made weekly group rides a cornerstone of their business. With those suspended for the time being, they’ve launched the Roule Together Challenge, “A network of routes that you can ride solo that link together to different small businesses like coffee shops, delis, scoop shops, etc. – places with perishable items that cyclists can easily roll through and spend a few dollars at.”

Roule has listed nine great local routes you can try, and they also encourage you to add to the community vibe by tagging friends and businesses while you’re out on the road. (Make sure to check ahead to see if the business along your route is still open.)

This is a very hard time for all of us. I hope riding your bike can make it a bit better. Here’s that Bicycling Magazine article again about coronavirus riding 101 in case you missed it.

And if BikePortland can do anything to help, please let me know. Stay tuned for a post I’m working on with status updates from many local bike shops.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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El Biciclero
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El Biciclero

Working from home, I no longer have to commute to work. I will have to create a circular “commute” from my house back to my house.

stasia:)
Guest

I’ve been “commuting” a loop back to my house, too! For me it’s a great way to keep feeling like a relatively normal human (since my normal is to ride to work), plus create a little bit of psychic distance between work and home even though they’re technically the same space currently:)

axoplasm
Subscriber

apparently my greatest joys in life are touching my face and launching snot rockets, I want nothing so much as to do these things. Which I never realized before last week.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I feel your pain. I too never realized how much I want to do these things until now.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

Though, there is yet zero evidence that Covid-19 can be thwarted with the liberal application of sunshine , fresh air and heat, I remain hopeful that these things will be powerful medicines to fight the infection. Some older houses still have sleeping porches because of the perceived benefit of sleeping outdoors in fighting the infectious outbreaks of the time. Also Singapore’s success at fighting Covid-19 might partially be due to its very hot climate ( plus very good public health measures). So it might be true that getting out on your bike as much as possible is the best medicine, it certainly can’t hurt.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

There is a small amount of evidence that UV light kills the virus, but not enough is know about the rates, effects of surface type, etc. It does sound like outdoor “touch” surfaces are generally safer than indoor surfaces.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

But keeping your immune system strong IS known to help survive COVID-19, and reduce the chance of passing it along.

Failing to get regular exercise, plenty of sleep and a good diet can compromise your immune system. Many people are at risk of missing out on the exercise part over the next however-many-months this thing lasts.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Suddenly indoor cycling seems like a great idea.

Jason
Guest
Jason

There’s never been a better time to start biking than now. In just one week, the traffic on Barbur has dropped tremendously! For now, as long as going outside isn’t contradicted, ride as much as you can.

I am thankful that I’ve banked several years of not driving, in my immunity bank. One thing I’ve realized is my tendency to use the “wipe” area of my glove. Which is gross anyway, but now I’m eyeing my gloves after a ride thinking I should wash them. Same might go for the cuff of a hoodie sleeve for instance. So, I’ve started carrying a bandana to absorb that gunk instead.

Kerry
Guest
Kerry

As B. Carfree says in the other thread, a broken bone won’t put you in the ICU. A head injury might put you in the ICU. Of course this issue is a complex minefield, but for the next few months I’m going to choose to wear a helmet.

Jason
Guest
Jason

To be clear, I think the message is *any* trip to the hospital at this time is risky. That’s my understanding at least. Fortunately, car traffic is reduced so 1) less for you to watch out for and 2) the ones out there now wont be as stressed as normal, since the stress they get is cause by other cars (dummies take it out on bikes though).

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

You may not take a trip to the ICU, but you won’t be able to make any outpatient appointments to set your broken bone, re-attach tendons, etc. You’ll be on your own.

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

In the couple hours I spent out riding yesterday I noticed a lot less drivers but more cars parked up to the corner blocking views at intersections, more people speeding because there was no traffic to slow them down and more distracted drivers violating my right of way I assume because they feel like they don’t have to pay as much attention with less drivers on the road. On the plus side the weather was great and the Idaho Stop is working out great.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

I live close to 223rd in Gresham. It’s a fairly busy north-south arterial. Normally we can hear street racers on Friday/Saturday nights, but yesterday I was working from home and heard several go through in the afternoon. So incredibly selfish. There are two parks within a half mile of the road, and a lot of folks seem to be trying to be outside right now, even if they’re not driving. I went for a ride during lunch, mostly on the springwater, and it was heavily trafficked with people.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Nice to see so many people out walking on the streets and in the parks (and washing their hands?). However, despite the exuberance of spring days, we should avoid hugging strangers in the park.

Bik Mpath
Guest
Bik Mpath

One of the major reasons to not be out and about is for the ‘what when’ scenarios. What happens when you need medical attention while on the road or trail? The medical-support network will be additionally stressed – from the first responders to the nurses-surgeons-physicians.

Ron Swaren
Guest
Ron Swaren

We’re just getting into pollen season, also. The flowering trees really don’t care if you inhale lots of their little spores. They’re just doing their job.