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For most of us, we are riding into uncharted territory managing our daily lives amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. 

 Here at Wheel & Sprocket, we tend to be an optimistic bunch and while we are taking prudent precautions as a community resource, as an employer, and a business-- we think it’s as good a time as any to get out to enjoy a bike ride.

Riding a bike is inherently healthy, helping us to enjoy fresh air; clear our minds; build strong lungs, hearts, and bones; and bolster our immune systems.  Biking is also becoming increasingly popular because of game-changing electric bikes (eBikes) and interest in sustainable transportation.  

It also naturally creates social distancing. Prudently, most large group rides in the coming weeks and months will most likely be canceled, but a ride by yourself, or with other healthy people can be safe, healthy, and fun.

To be clear, if you're sick, it’s not the time to ride. You can’t ‘sweat out” an infection, and you should be limiting your exposure to others--take responsibility to follow CDC guidelines.

Questions have been popping up about riding in these times of outbreak and our societal behavior to limit its effects. Borrowing from a recent Bicycling Magazine article referencing David Nieman, Dr.PH., health professor at Appalachian State University and director of the Human Performance Lab at the North Carolina Research Campus:

Is it safe to ride outside?

Yes—in fact, it’s safer to be outside than inside when it comes to disease transmission. When people congregate together and someone sneezes or coughs, droplets get onto objects that people touch, and then people touch their face, Nieman explains. The best plan for riding right now is to go out and ride solo or with a healthy buddy and enjoy the outdoors.

Getting in 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to brisk activity can help your immune system keep viruses at bay. Be sure you know what’s going on in your area and if there are any restrictions or mandatory self-quarantines. And, if you’re sick or at-risk of spreading the virus, you shouldn’t go out.

During a quarantine, Nieman suggests doing some exercise, while staying quarantined wherever you are to keep healthy—doing bodyweight exercises or riding on your living room trainer are great ways to do this. Unless you’re sick.

“If you do have flu or coronavirus, or have a fever, sick people think wrongly they can ‘exercise the virus out of the system’ or ‘sweat it out,’ that’s a myth. It’s actually the opposite,” Neiman says.

How long can COVID-19 live on clothing?

Experts don’t yet know the risk of transmitting the virus from surfaces like clothing, Treakle says. But the World Health Organization reports that coronaviruses can remain on surfaces for a few hours up to several days. To disinfect clothing, wash it in hot water and use the dryer’s high setting.

Can coronavirus be spread through sweat?

According to the CDC, transmission of the coronavirus happens between people who are in close contact with one another (about six feet) and through respiratory droplets, produced through a cough or sneeze—not sweat.

What precautions should be taken if using bike share like BCycle, Divvy, or Bublr?

If an ill person has used it right before you, they could leave behind their viruses on the handlebars. If you wipe it down before you use it, that should protect you against being exposed to many different diseases, Labus says.

And, so far the information points to when things are outside and have sun exposure (UV light)—like bikes sitting in docks—that helps sanitize the surface.

In general, using bike shares should be okay, but it wouldn’t hurt to have gloves on. And, be sure to wash your hands as soon as you can and avoid touching your face, Nieman says.

In much of the US, reports are coming in that driving and transit are down, but bike riding is up.

Bike ridership in New York and Chicago is exploding as people are choosing to commute by bike. We’ve always thought commuting by bike has been great, and there may be no better time to give it a try! 

As schools close, large events postponed, and actions to help “flatten the curve” remain important, it means that we potentially have more time to devote to riding. Wheel & Sprocket is striving to support everyone’s ability to enjoy riding during this outbreak. We will remain a resource and will help in any way that we can.