‘Mask or Stay Home’ graffiti on Marine Drive bike path

(Graffiti on Marine Drive bike path. Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

BikePortland Forum users shared their masks in a recent post.

At this stage of the coronavirus pandemic everyone has an opinion about cycling outside and the relative risk of catching Covid-19. We have government leaders telling us one thing, scientists saying another thing, journalists who interpret science saying something else, pundits doing what they do, and then of course we have all our friends and acquaintances pontificating about the topic on social media feeds.

I’m curious where folks are on this issue because I still see a big split in behaviors when I’m out on the streets. I also have a hunch the masks-while-cycling issue is the new helmet debate and we’ll just have to agree to disagree and muddle along.

Then there’s the graffiti I just saw while biking on the Marine Drive path north of NE 33rd Avenue. Over the weekend someone spray-painted about a dozen messages along several miles of the path: “Runners & Bikers Mask!”, “Six Feet Not Enuf!”, “Mask YOU”, and “Mask or Stay Home”, they wrote.


I feel like there was major resistance to mask-wearing for many bicycle riders since Day One of this thing. Now with talks of a “phased reopening process” I can just sense everyone letting their guards down (driving traffic is way up for starters).

So… are you wearing one when you ride? What’s your personal practice?

I know bicycle users aren’t a monolithic demographic and that — just like every other type of road users — their bicycles don’t define how they think, what their lived experience is, and so on. So I’m not surprised there’s a wide range of views about this.

Personally, I’m on the wear-a-mask end of the spectrum; but I also use my head and use personal discretion about the when/where/how. For instance I wear a different type of mask if I’m biking for work or errands than if I’m suited up in my spandex on a fast-paced training ride. For the latter I’ll use a lightweight face-covering while I’m in town, but pull it down around my neck when I’m out on wide-open roads.

I’m curious what your thinking is on this. If you leave a comment, consider how it might influence others who are genuinely confused and looking for advice on the topic.

Further reading:
The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them, by Erin Bromage Ph.D. and Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Should You Wear a Mask When Exercising Outdoors?, by Wall Street Journal (5/4/20)

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and
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