Bicycling During a Pandemic – Joy, Beauty, and Community on Two Wheels
by Lisa Montanaro of The Bike Campaign
April 13, 2020
As spring arrives with warmer weather, and folks are itching to escape from their homes where they’ve been sheltering in place for awhile, the natural world is going to become a living room without walls. One activity that people can still enjoy during this pandemic is bike riding. It provides fresh air, exercise, and being in nature. For those that already love to cycle, it’s a lifeline during this difficult time. It can serve as the commute to an essential job, a positive form of stress relief, an escape from being cooped up in our homes, and a form of exercise and movement for kids and adults when schools, workplaces, and gyms are closed and so many other activities are off the table.
Of course, bike riders need to practice appropriate safety protocols due to the pandemic. These include social distancing while riding from anyone that isn’t sheltering in place with you, wearing gloves that cover your entire hand (including your fingers) if you plan to touch anything other than your bike, wearing a mask (or carrying one with you) if you’ll be passing other folks at a distance that feels too close for comfort, and riding as safely as possible to avoid injury so you don’t wind up needing medical attention at a time when health care is stretched so thin. Safety protocols also include following current CDC guidelines, as they’re rapidly changing. With safety protocols in place, the benefits of bike riding at this time will surely outweigh any negatives.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BIKE RIDING DURING THIS PANDEMIC?
HERE ARE A FEW:
• Connection to Community: Bike riding is a way to stay connected to our communities at a time when we’re feeling disconnected. Bikes unite us, even as we are so physically separated. We get to see others and engage at a safe distance. Neighbors can wave and greet each other, which adds a sense of community and connectedness during a time when we miss human connection. Miss your dear friends and know that you’d benefit from seeing them? Consider bike riding to their homes, staying in the saddle, and chatting with them from the sidewalk while they hang out on their front porch. Or bike to a park, and chat at a safe distance from each other, but get a sense of being together.
• Physical, Mental and Emotional Health Boosts: Bike riding can boost your immune system and improve your mental state. Being outdoors provides fresh air and exercise during this challenging time when people are stuck inside. You can bike ride with family members that are sheltering in place as a family activity, or get some much-needed alone time by heading out for a solo ride if your home feels like it’s shrinking and you need a break!
• Smell the Roses: Bike riding connects you to nature. Spring brings with it blooming plants, and chirping birds. Experience the beauty around you!
• Take a Breath: Air quality has improved due to the drastic decrease in traffic. Enjoy it while it lasts!
• Silence is Golden: Noise pollution is extremely low right now. It’s downright quiet out there!
• Decreased Traffic: The streets are almost empty, which translates to a safer environment for bike riding for children and adults alike.
What if you don’t know how to ride a bike? Well, there’s no better time to learn! When my husband and I were walking our dogs recently on a street near our home with absolutely no traffic, we saw a father teaching his young son how to ride a bike. When the father gently let go of the handlebars, the son’s face was one of pure joy, wonder, and excitement as he felt the exhilaration of rolling along on two wheels. For anyone serious about learning how to ride a bike at this time, even though the Bike Garage is temporarily closed, phone consultation, free bike repair, and quality used bicycles are available by appointment. Contact Maria at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you’re not a bike rider and don’t plan to learn right now? That’s good too. You can still enjoy a sense of community by waving at us as we roll by. I promise we will give a friendly wave or hello back.
This article was written by Lisa Montanaro, commissioned by The Bike Campaign. For more information about how to “Drive Less. Ride More.,” contact Maria Contreras Tebbutt at email@example.com or www.TheBikeCampaign.com.