How to Be Safe from COVID While You’re Cycling
COVID-19 has slowed down the pace of everyday living, and people are trying to find ways to navigate around the new normal, including their choice of transportation. Some people may hesitate riding public transportation these days especially, fearing being in a confined space with potential carriers. That said, it’s not surprising that cycling should emerge as one of the preferred modes of transportation. Because you ride alone and bikes can easily weave in and out of traffic, your likelihood of exposure to the coronavirus may be lesser.
Despite the convenience of bikes, you still need to exercise caution because they can’t guarantee you immunity from the coronavirus. To ensure a safe ride every time you’re out cycling, follow the COVID safety tips listed below.
Safety Check before Riding
On the road, you have so many things to take notice of, variables you can’t control in case of an emergency. Knowing how to be safe from COVID entails not just the basics of proper hygiene and physical distancing. You also need (1) your protective gear to avoid or at least minimize the impact of sustaining injuries and (2) bright, reflective gear to improve your visibility.
Remember, if you hurt yourself badly or get into a major accident while you’re cycling, you may need to go to a hospital, where there is a higher chance of exposure to COVID patients. Also, with hospitals maxing out their capacity to accept patients, you may not be able to receive medical treatment immediately.
Just like you would on any other day before COVID-19 became a serious problem, prepare and inspect the necessary biking gear before you head out.
- Helmet—according to Cleveland Clinic, “wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury to bicyclists by as much as 85 percent.” Make sure your helmet has the Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC) sticker, which means that the helmet passes rigorous bike-safety standards.
Your bike helmet should fit properly. If it has cracks or some other form of damage, replace it immediately.
- Lights—you need front lights and rear lights to ensure that you are very visible even before sunrise or after sunset.
- Clothes—wear clothes in bright colors and, preferably, with reflective strips.
- Gloves—if you’re comfortable wearing gloves, make it a part of your cycling routine. Gloves help you keep a steady, firm grip on the handlebars and protects your hands from injuries like blisters and scratches.
- Eyewear—use the ones especially designed for cycling. They’re your protection against harsh light, dust, and airborne particles, making it easier for you to see your surroundings.
Protecting Yourself from COVID While You’re Cycling
When you’re cycling outdoors, your focus is on the road and the areas around it, but having the coronavirus as an unseen enemy will require you to be even more cautious while you ride. Cycling safety tips during a pandemic include the following measures:
- Self-quarantine—if you suspect you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, stay at home. Do not risk other people’s health and lives.
- Proper hygiene protocols—disinfect your cycling equipment, and make sure you always have wipes and a sanitizer with you. Wear a mask, and don’t blow snot rockets.
- Social distancing—ride from where you live and only with people within your household. Keep a distance of at least six feet between you and another rider.
- Maintaining a healthy body—getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating healthy food will help boost your immune system and, therefore, help make you less susceptible to getting sick.
Guidelines for Cyclists
Bicycles are treated as regular vehicles, and as such, they are subject to certain traffic laws, and cyclists are expected to have the same legal responsibilities as other drivers do. States will have different laws on biking, so you need to be well-informed about those to avoid legal troubles. The items below are some of the general guidelines:
- Do not operate your bike or drive if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- You can operate your bike only in designated areas such as streets, bike paths, and roadways.
- Follow pertinent traffic devices, such as traffic signs and signals. Some of the hand signals are as follows:
- Turn right—your right arm should be extended horizontally, or your left arm and hand should be extended vertically.
- Turn left—your left arm should be extended horizontally.
- Stop or slow down—your left arm and hand should be extended downward.
- You should have functional lamps:
- Headlamp—the white light emitted from this should be visible from a distance of at least 500 feet in front of the bike.
- Red lamp or red reflector—the red lamp should be visible from at least 500 feet away from the bicycle rear. The reflector should be visible from at least 300 feet away from the bicycle rear.
- Don’t wear listening devices (e.g., headsets, headphones) except for hearing aids.
- Don’t carry objects that will impede your ability to use at least one hand to hold the handlebars.
The most important thing is, of course, to stay at home. These should be the only compelling reasons for you to go out:
- Running errands—if you need to stock up on food, medicine, and other necessities, make sure that your trips are infrequent, which means you should carefully plan how much and how many of the items you need to buy every time you go out.
- Going to and leaving your office, if your work is part of the essential services.
- Medical purposes and/or assisting vulnerable people.
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home. Remember that the virus is spread through droplets, and some studies even suggest that airborne transmission of the virus is possible, so keep a safe distance from other cyclists.
Although the minimum distance is two meters, you also have to take note that you will soon be in the same space that the rider in front of you has just passed. In that case, you will need more than two meters for your exclusion space.
- Exercise—you can ride alone or with other people in your household. Again, observe proper cycling-hygiene protocols to avoid COVID infection.
What to Do in Case You’re Sick
Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 include having a cough, fever, or chills; losing one’s sense of smell and sense of taste; and sore throat. COVID is, undoubtedly, a fearsome disease, but you should stay alert instead of anxious and do the following:
- Isolate and stay at home—self-quarantine in a separate room to avoid the possible spread of the virus.
- Take note of and monitor your symptoms—the symptoms are varied and may be mild or severe. If possible, use telemedicine or call your doctor first before going to a clinic or a health-care facility.
Some patients may undergo treatment and recovery while they’re at home. In case you have alarming symptoms, however, like having difficulty breathing, call 911 or get emergency medical care immediately.
- Wear a mask—as explained earlier, the coronavirus may be spread through contact and droplet transmission. When you wear a mask, you can contain the source of the virus. Thus, you prevent infecting other people in your household.
- Use separate utensils—your spoon, fork, knives, and other dining utensils should be kept separately. Do not share utensils with other people.
- Dispose of your trash properly—the garbage bin should have a liner, and your trash (e.g., used surgical mask or gloves, tissue used for coughing) should be placed in a plastic bag and sealed tightly.
- Observe proper cough etiquette and respiratory hygiene.
- Disinfect high-touch surfaces and areas—various medical references point out that droplets that may contain the coronavirus can linger on surfaces for at least a few hours. Doorknobs, light switches, sinks, faucets, the toilet, and other high-touch surfaces must be cleaned thoroughly and regularly using all-purpose cleaner or other effective disinfectants.
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