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Riding During the COVID-19 Crisis

Updated 3/23/20

For the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on the developing COVID-19 pandemic, please check resources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , World Health Organization (WHO), and Oregon Health Authority regularly. 

We get it and are right there with you- cycling soothes the soul, which is what we all need a lot of right now. But is it safe and responsible during the COVID-19 crisis? No single source has all the information about COVID-19 and, as cyclists, our interaction with the world is unique in that we cover a lot of territory and ask a lot of our respiratory system. Bicycling through this crisis presents a number of challenging questions; we’ll begin with these and update regularly. Please add your thoughts or questions in the comments below, thank you.

Here are some articles we’ve found helpful:

How to Ride Safely Amid Coronavirus ConcernsBicycling Magazine

Expert Advice on COVID-19 for Cycling Community from Dr. Michael Roshon – USA Cycling (Video)

A Cyclist’s Guide to Self-Care In These Stressful TimesBicycling Magazine

Can/should We Ride Outside?

Yes, go for a ride. Escaping to the outdoors (please stay local!) for a bike ride is still something you can do for your physical and mental well-being. In the USA Cycling video linked above Dr. Michael Roshon, Chief of Medical Staff for Penrose Hospital System and advisor to USA Cycling and numerous professional cycling teams, says, “There is a serious cause for concern, but not for panic,” He adds, “It is OK to keep riding.” We encourage you to watch the video to learn more.

Update 3/23/2020 – Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 20-12: Stay Home, Save Lives (Link to complete document here)

Section 1.c – “When individuals need to leave their homes or residences, they should at all times maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any person who is not a member of their immediate household, to the greatest extent possible, and comply with the other Social Distancing Guidance requirements issued by the Oregon Health Authority.”

Section 1.d – “Individuals may go outside for outside recreational activities (walking, hiking, etc.), but must limit those activities to non-contact, and are prohibited from engaging in outdoor activities where it is not possible to maintain appropriate social distancing (six feet or more between individuals).”

How can we ride safely? Do I have to ride alone?

Riding solo is clearly the most effective way to enjoy cycling while minimizing the potential for spreading the virus. Group rides and events have been cancelled across the country and we recommend against riding in groups at this time. This is not to say that you are forced into a life of solitary pedaling for the foreseeable future. Dr. Roshon says that riding with members of your immediate household is acceptable but do maintain safe social distance while riding. Do not ride with anyone unknown to you as you cannot be certain of their exposure to the COVID-19 virus at this time.

Additionally, avoid high-intensity efforts for the time being as they tend to reduce your immune system’s ability to fight off illness in the hours after a hard ride. Focus on overall health, physical and mental, instead of cycling fitness.

Is bicycling allowed under a shelter-in-place directive?

Each state and municipality will have unique details related to a shelter-in-place directive but those that have been ordered in the United States do allow for bicycling and other forms of exercise so long as one maintains safe social distance.

Update 3/23/2020 -Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 20-12: Stay Home, Save Lives (Link to complete document here)

From Governor Kate Brown’s website under the “Allowed” section: “Outdoor activities like walking your dog, jogging, or biking in your neighborhood.”

Can/should we travel to our favorite Oregon places to ride?

At this time Cycle Oregon recommends that you refrain from recreation-based travel especially to rural and gateway communities. Smaller communities throughout Oregon have been gracious to cyclists but their medical facilities may be without ICU capability for critical respiratory patients. A sudden influx of tourists will likely accelerate the spread of the virus within their close-knit community at a rate their system is not designed to handle.

Outdoor recreation is necessary but we ask that you stay local to where you live. Some Oregon counties are reporting zero cases of COVID-19; don’t take it to them as part of a social distancing training camp or work-from-home escape. If you have a trip planned, please postpone until we are advised by the CDC and the State of Oregon that mass gathering limits and safe social-distancing protocols have been reduced or removed.

What if my bike needs service or I need new gear?

Good news, bike shops are among the “essential service” businesses being listed around the country to remain open. Please check with your local shop to determine hours and special directives for in-store shopping or bike service. Cycle Oregon champion Bike Gallery encourages everyone to “Keep on Riding” and they remain open at all locations with thorough safety actions and special offers to support riders of all types. Please visit their COVID-19 page for up-to-the-minute details. From everyone at Cycle Oregon, thank you Bike Gallery and thank you bike shop staff everywhere.

Update 3/23/2020 – Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 20-12: Stay Home, Save Lives (Link to complete document here)

Bike shops are allowed to remain open under Executive Order 20-12. Bike Portland has a feature story here and is updating a spreadsheet with details on 50 Portland area bike shops.


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