Riding Your Bike Is Safe, Experts Say
As we are all aware, social distancing is highly recommended for areas outside of mandatory lock-downs. Working from home, avoiding public transport, and staying clear of crowds are all things most of us have had to adapt to.
But what about riding your ebike?
As of Monday, March 23, the Dutch government has declared a ban on all organised gatherings of more than three people.
“The key to our success is in our own behaviour. Do not go out unless you have to leave to go to work, or go shopping," Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus explained.
There is continuous encouragement to work from home, but if it is essential that you leave the house, medical professionals across the globe say cycling is the ideal way to maintain your health while avoiding close-quarter interaction with other people.
Michael Barczok, a German pulmonologist, and Gerd Antes, a biostatistician with the Cochrane Center at Freiburg, Germany’s University Clinic, both told Der Speigel that cycling provides near “zero” risk of infection and is “perfect self-protection,” respectively.
Likewise, Dr. Kate Hattersley, a general practitioner aligned with the organisation Cycling UK, told riders that cyclists who aren’t particularly vulnerable to coronavirus should be fine, especially if they follow proper precautions.
“There is no reason for you to stop cycling, as long as you maintain guidance on social distancing. That means avoiding unnecessary social contact, as well as keeping a safe distance (at least two meters) from other people,” Hattersley told Cycling UK. “Upon returning home, you must wash your hands. It’s also advisable to wash your cycling gloves, too. Remember to avoid touching your face if your hands are not clean.”
There are also signs it can help boost your mental health.
As an independent public health consultant and researcher at the University of Bristol, Dr. Nick Cavill has a long history of documenting the physical benefits of cycling." In a situation like this, where we're spending a lot of time indoors, cycling just gives you the chance to get fresh air," Cavill told us. "That means connecting with the environment, being outside, being in nature, having your mind away from your routine, away from the computer screen. Those are clear mental health benefits."
While physical activity, in general, has been shown to improve your mood, Cavill, an avid cyclist himself, suggested that riding a bike while observing rules of social distancing may bring unique benefits.
"Cycling seems to give something extra," he said. "It may not yet be very well researched, but it's fairly well known among cyclists. There's a feeling of freedom, the ability to choose your own route and go where you like, and the ability to get physically a long way from home in a short amount of exercise time compared to a run or walk."
"Maybe it's just a secret shared by cyclists," he added warmly.
Beyond personal well-being, Cavill is hopeful that the current moment could lead to better public health worldwide, especially if more people take this as an opportunity to switch from driving to cycling.
Conclusion: If you need to leave your home, it's best to take your bike!
Keep safe, and #RideRad!