You can ride safely

Are you allowed to ride your bike?

Yes. The Pennsylvania Department of Health states that activity is important for your mental and physical health. Bicycling is included in lists of allowable recreation in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington DC.

Should you ride your bike?

That depends. If you have symptoms of Covid-19 or believe you may have been exposed to someone with symptoms, please stay inside. There are safe ways to be outside and on a bicycle, whether you need to because your job is considered essential or for physical and emotional health.

Here are the guidelines for safe cycling on the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal:

You are responsible for the safety of people around you

Pass pedestrians and other bicyclists with at least 6 feet of space. At intersections stop before the intersection to leave 6 feet between you and folks using the crosswalk. At narrow places, slow down enough to be 100% sure that no one is coming in the other direction. Ride in a staggered formation to avoid being positioned directly behind another rider. Droplets containing the virus can remain airborne for up to six hours. Position yourself with enough distance between you and the rider in front of you, to minimize the risk if the front rider were to expel airborne droplets. Avoid the following: 

  • No snot rockets
  • No spitting
  • No nose schmearing with your gloves
  • No high fives

Ride less crowded trails or during off-peak hours

If you do not have a required destination, try for a meandering route that doesn’t include a popular destination or try and go for an off-peak time. Trails are extremely busy right now: data from regional trail and bike lane counters shows that trail traffic is quietest before 8am, and that fewer people are riding on streets and bike lanes. 

If you’re going out at dawn or in the dark, make sure you have lights.

If you do ride on a trail, remember that pedestrians always have the right of way, so plan on pulling off the trail to maintain a safe social distance. 

Some inspiration: Find the weirdest thing you can in your neighborhood. Seek out a new favorite tree. Is it more fun to ride up or down the steepest hill in your neighborhood?

Plan for limited services along the trail

Many parks and trails are closed, as are most trail-side park services like restrooms and water fountains. Many businesses are also closed or operating in a limited way. Make sure you have all the water, and snacks, and tools  you will need for your ride. 

Play it safe

Take it slow, pay attention and don't take risks that could lead to injuries. Emergency rooms are overburdened already, and if you show up with a broken wrist because you crashed, you’re taking time from doctors and nurses who need to be treating people who are sick. 

Stay close to home

Country roads and wilderness adventures may feel tempting, but rural medical resources are even more strained right now. Play local 

Disinfect and isolate your outdoor gear

Clean your handlebars and other contact points when you get home. At this point, it is reasonable caution to keep shoes, bikes, clothes that have been outside isolated or washed after you’ve been outside. 

Ride alone, or with your household

Do not ride in a group that is not your household. Period. If you are feeling competitive, take it to Strava. 

PA Department of Health says:

Physical activity is important for your mental and physical health. Safely exercise outdoors during COVID19 with these tips:  

  • visit spaces in your community 
  • avoid crowded areas + busy times 
  • stay 6' from others not living in your home  
  • keep pet from interacting w/others