Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 18th, 2020 at 12:53 pm
As I monitor the news and the BikePortland social media feeds, it’s clear that there remains confusion about whether or not it’s safe to do group rides. While many folks have cancelled them, I still see people out there (online and in real life) riding close together.
I’m not an expert, but I want to offer some guidance on making the right decision about this.
Here’s a question I just saw posted from a friend who hosts a weekly group ride in Portland:
“Can we ride and maintain social distancing or do we run afoul of the 10 person group limits restrictions? Seems like we can maintain a 6’ distance and maintain that separation on the regroups.”
During a ride downtown and in north Portland yesterday, I saw a lot of people outside exercising and recreating in what I think are dangerous conditions: A group of 20-somethings played basketball at Couch Park, and runners and walkers mixed closely while a large group of bike riders rode two-abreast in a narrow bike lane on North Willamette Blvd.
Based on what I’ve read and learned from a wide variety of sources, I say it’s time to end all group rides. In theory it sounds doable to follow the official social distancing guidelines of six-feet apart and groups less than 10. But in practice it’s just not that simple. I think group rides introduce way too many risk factors including: bodily fluids being expressed and then blown around in the wind (Covid-19 is spread by droplets), close contact with people who could be infected (remember, it’s safest to assume you and everyone else are infected!), increased risk of crashes (we need to keep hospitals open for Covid-19 treatment), and so on.
Don’t just take my word for it. There’s a reason why Italian officials are considering a ban on outdoor exercise. And in this just-published Atlantic article, the reporter shares guidance from an epidemiologist. In the following passage, replace “runners” with “cyclists”:
“Glanz recommends that people watch out for passing runners—and that runners keep their distance around pedestrians—because huffing and puffing could spread droplets like coughing does. (It should go without saying: Runners, however tempting it is, don’t spit, please.) “Veering out of the way or staying to the side of the path when there are lots of runners out is a good idea,” she said.
Think about that. If she’s saying walkers should “veer out of the way” of runners, how would you do that while riding your bike in a pack?
I might be wrong here, but I think it’s exactly the right time to put our needs and desires for fun and camaraderie aside and think of the big picture. We’re likely just a matter of days before we begin a more strict lockdown and “distancing” becomes “isolation.” As we try to flatten the infection curve, I think we should stay ahead of the curve and avoid any kind of group activity.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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