Bicycling in a Pandemic

by Zack DesJardins, Secretary

Similar to many people, I stayed inside starting in March but it did not take long to want to get outside. However, everyone else had the same idea as my favorite trails were more crowded than ever. Fortunately, car traffic had also significantly declined which opened up on-street options which I would have never considered before. While I previously avoided riding along Eisenhower Ave during rush hour, I now ride there weekly regardless of time of day. With little noticeable rush hour, my comfort with street riding has dramatically improved.

While I am not a scientist or health care professional, I have read that there are few, if any, cases of outdoor transmission of COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, I wear a mask when riding through crowded areas, particularly along the Mt Vernon Trail. In areas with fewer people such as when riding along a street, I remove my mask. When I am out performing field work for my job, I wear a mask when I stop to perform a task in areas where I will likely come into contact with other people. In addition, when riding a tandem bicycle, both of us wear masks since we will be in close contact for a prolonged period of time.

Finally, I continue to use Capital Bikeshare. The bikes themselves are cleaned by the system operator whenever they are brought back to the warehouse. Bikeshare ridership has flipped from a majority of trips being shorter commutes to longer, fewer leisure rides, and so the bikes are being used by fewer people. Since the bikes sit outside in the sun and updated research shows that the virus does not survive long on surfaces, I feel comfortable using these shared bicycles. Since COVID-19 has created a bicycle shortage, combining high demand with disrupted supply chains and very busy shop mechanics, Capital Bikeshare is a great alternative to riding a personal bike.

With many people taking the pre-cautions outlined above, bicycling has boomed during COVID-19. I hope to see you out and about!