On June 5th, southeastern Pennsylvania counties moved into the “Yellow Phase” of Covid-19 (C19) response. A key takeaway from PA state guidance is that this phase now allows for properly distanced groups of up to 25 to meet outdoors. New Jersey allowed gatherings of the same size via a recent executive order.
Does this mean that group rides are now safe? Unfortunately, like much these days the answer is “it depends.”
Every time you leave your home, you are exposing yourself to increased risk for contracting C19, whether that is taking a walk, going for a bike ride, or getting groceries.
Many public health organizations recommend getting regular exercise and time outdoors to help build immunity and promote wellbeing during this undoubtedly stressful time. Also, outdoor exercise has always been considered an essential activity by both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Based on reviewing guidelines from each of the states, as well as best practices of our sister organizations and bike clubs around the region, we have the following guidance for group ride leaders:
- Bring a mask, and wear it. This is especially critical during the congregating period that happens before and after the ride.
- Maintain a minimum of 6 feet distance from others at all times
- Keep your ride to 25 people or less, per state guidelines. Many clubs recommend groups of 10 or less due to the logistical issues involved in keeping the group together while keeping enough distance between riders.
- Bring enough hand sanitizer for the group
- If your ride has a paper sign-in process, ask participants to bring their own pens, and to sanitize their hands before and after handling the clipboard.
- Leave the clipboard on a table or the ground instead of handing it from person to person. Sanitize any reused pens between each use
- Try to avoid routes where there is already a lot of cycling activity. Bicycle Coalition offers a “route library” to our members via Ride With GPS, many of which were designed by our staff to explore “lesser known” trails and road rides
- Try to minimize time on multi-use trails, which don’t allow enough space for riders to ride two-abreast and pass other trail users safely
- Avoid more popular trails (SRT & CVT, for example) completely, unless you are sure that the part of the trail or the time of day will be a less crowded one
- General group ride tips work here, too: ride two-abreast and “take the lane” to discourage motorists from passing unless there is safe room to do so, which also gives riders more space from each other
- Lastly, our front line health workers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. Let’s save them the trouble of dealing with head injuries and heat stroke by wearing our helmets and not overexerting ourselves
Keep in mind, the COVID-19 pandemic is a constantly-changing event. These guidelines are liable to change. Check back here often for more tips and guidance around bicycling during COVID.