“It all became very real yesterday… It felt like the dam broke and we finally saw widespread acknowledgment — locally and nationally — that the Covid-19 outbreak is here and it’s time to act like it. With mass cancellations and rising infections, it’s a scary time.”
That’s the intro I wrote on March 12th 2020 for our first story on the Covid-19 pandemic. It was the first of 60 stories we’ve posted on the topic since.
From mask-wearing etiquette and cancellation of the racing season, to months of bike-powered protests, fears of mass bike shop closures and a dramatic shift in how our roads are used — we’ve been through so much together.
Now it seems we are shifting back to “normal” just as quickly as we moved away from it.
As we wait to see what comes next, I asked readers to share how or if Covid has impacted their cycling habits. Here are some of the responses:
“I walk a lot more but bike a lot less because we typically bike for short, fun trips to get coffee or food. Now that it’s harder to stay to eat or drink, we don’t bike as much.”
“Cycling has been a lifeline throughout. Outside, easy to distance healthy exercise. The biggest cycling covid downer is the complete loss of cycling events like races, but that’s a pretty small complaint w/r/t all the other huge things we’ve given up due to covid (like 500k dead). The biggest change is the sport turned into a thing I do mostly by myself. And I ride for exercise or errands. There’s no incentive to train for anything anymore. It’s become much more personal as a sport.”
“Personally, I’ve ridden less because I’m so exhausted mentally from all the pandemic stuff plus personal stuff. I just haven’t had the energy to go. When I do go for a ride, though, it’s glorious (plus a mask). The only real downside I’ve seen is that the paths are way more packed whenever the weather isn’t total garbage than before due to everyone wanting to just get out of the house.”
“It’s actually been the one silver lining. Whereas I used to commute to work and bike around 60-70 miles a week, I now have more time for longer rides and can hit over 100 every week. That also means lots more time spent exploring Portland’s many bike routes!”
Mary Peter Middendorf:
“I’ve hardly ridden this year. I used to bicycle commute from Beaverton to Portland every day, but now I work from home (permanently). I’m grateful to be safe from COVID, but I also miss my bike commute and office. I also run fewer errands, and now often run the errands on foot instead of bike in order to maximize the exercise I get from these minimal outings. I’m also a lot more worried about getting myself stranded with a flat tire or broken down bike than I used to be… I used to just catch a bus home or to a bike shop if that happened, but I’m afraid to ride the bus during COVID. I look forward to biking more again after my shot(s).”
“I’m so grateful to have a bike and be a regular rider, as it’s the one activity that I was still able to do regularly when all of my gyms and other activities were no longer accessible. It’s a constant mild irritation that pedestrians all use the bike paths now to avoid narrow sidewalks, but what can you do. I went several months without repairs due to overrun and closed bike shops, but that’s gotten more manageable recently. It would be nice if the gravel would get swept.”
“Before the pandemic I would bike 13 miles daily to work from NE to N Portland. I would bike well over 1000 each year. Now I bike only to run errands a couple times a week. I rarely bike as a form of exercise or leisure because the lack of separated bike infrastructure only increases my stress levels while riding.”
“We weren’t sure if bike shops would survive the stay at home order. That uncertainty pushed us to purchase our e-cargo bike just a day or two before. We’ve switched to 99% groceries by bike. (And most other errands.) This introduced us to curbside pickup.”
“No more commute to the office, but have been trying to get some miles in without that forcing function. I may be over cautious, but have been avoiding crowded routes like The Springwater and using the greenway streets instead.”
Andrea Capp Arbuckle:
“I ride a lot less since I’m not commuting to work every day. I miss it sometimes but I DO NOT miss the stress and frustration regularly associated with commuting on the same streets as people in cars, trucks, etc. I knew it was affecting me but it wasn’t until the pandemic that I realized how much.”
“Working in the food industry, I still ride everyday. At first it was nice quiet streets, a nice respite from the worlds chaos. Now it’s right back to normal with all the same traffic. I find myself avoiding busy bike paths, and slowing slowing down a lot to give others lots of space. I also find myself not wearing my mask when I ride nearly as much as I said I would.”
“I started wearing a mask to avoid the virus but I’m probably going to keep wearing one past this because it also keeps me from accidentally inhaling bugs while riding.”
“Bought my first ebike and started to commute by bike for the first time!”
“It made me realize I didn’t need or want a car at all. Driving it just to keep the battery charged seemed even more absurd than driving it to get somewhere. I bought a cargo e-bike and got rid of the car.”
“All the life disruptions I experienced last winter, spring, and summer unexpectedly led me to re-evaluate my life, such that I dreamed up a yearlong solo bike trip around the US and Canada, which I’m now actively moving toward. (Hoping to embark in September!)”
That’s awesome to hear Maren!
Thanks to everyone who has shared so far. If your cycling lifestyle has been impacted by the virus, please share in the comments.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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