This guide is meant to answer your questions about bicycling safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will update it as we learn more. However, the situation may change rapidly. Please follow the advice and orders of your local authorities, no matter what this document might say.
How safe it is to ride outside ?
Bicycling is one of the safest ways to get where you need to go and to get exercise right now.
Exercise is important for physical, mental, and emotional health. Movement supports your immune system, and is a great antidote for the anxiety and depression that can come from isolation. And biking is a safe, socially distanced way of getting around.
Do I need to wear a mask when I’m on my bike?
Yes. Your county’s health department may have additional guidance, but the statewide order as of mid-June says that masks must be worn:
“While outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible.”
Because it’s hard to know when you won’t be able to avoid getting within 6 feet of someone on a road or path, it’s a good idea to stay masked while riding. This can be hard, especially in hot weather.
Here are some tips to make it easier:
- Wear a face mask designed for athletic use. A mask made from fabric that wicks moisture might help you bike more comfortably. Here’s a recent list of recommended masks for athletic use.
- If masks don’t work for you when you’re riding, experiment with other types of face coverings. A bandana or scarf that covers your nose and mouth could allow you more flexibility to create a breathable covering for your nose and mouth.
- Try a neck gaiter. It’s easier to pull a gaiter up or down as needed and one made from a lightweight fabric may be more breathable.
- Experiment with different types of face coverings and find what works for you. Remember that something is better than nothing when it comes to face coverings to fight coronavirus.
Your mask won’t do much to protect you, but it will protect those around you – researchers have discovered that asymptomatic spread is common. Wearing a mask is a way of showing your care and respect for your community.
Where can I get my bike fixed?
At your bike shop (probably). Thanks to CalBike and other organizations, bicycle repair services are designated as essential businesses, and may therefore stay open in California, unless a local order expressly prohibits it. While some shops are closed, many shops are open for reduced service with reduced hours, or for appointment-only services.
Be sure to call ahead. As a service, some advocates are listing open shops. We have not checked these for accuracy, but you may find useful these listings in Marin County and San Diego County, as well as this (incomplete) crowdsourced national map of bike shops.
You can also get help to fix your bike at a community bike shop. Many of these DIY organizations have begun to reopen their doors to the public. Check to make sure your local shop is open and find out what services are available.
Where can I get a used bike for cheap or free?
Great question, with a wonderful answer! The sudden surge in demand for bikes for essential travel has sparked Caifornians into action. New platforms are springing up to connect people with extra bikes with those who need them. Many bicycles are being offered for free.
Learn more about Bike Match.
Where can I get a new bike?
You can buy a bike from an online retailer and have it delivered, but we recommend test riding a bike before committing to it, and developing a relationship with your local bike shop in the process. Many local bike shops have figured out how to offer test rides safely.
How do I bike responsibly during the COVID-19 pandemic?
While many cities and counties have relaxed rules about staying at home, physical distancing is still important to slow the spread of COVID-19. Try to maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others you pass on the road. Wear a mask while riding as much as possible.
Since it’s much harder to spread the virus outside, a leisurely group bike ride could be a pleasant and safe way to get together with a small group of friends. It’s still not a good idea to go on athletic group rides with people who aren’t in your bubble. Because it’s harder to wear a mask on an athletic ride and because riders draft behind each other, the risks still seem too high.
Is it safe to use bike share or shared scooters during the coronavirus outbreak?
Yes, as long as you apply the same careful attention to hygiene that you would with a shopping cart handle. If you can, sanitize the handlebars before you go and when you’re finished. If you can’t, wear full-fingered gloves or just be careful what you touch before washing your hands. Don’t touch your face until you thoroughly wash your hands, and sanitize your wallet, keys, and credit cards if you touched them. Plain soap does not damage a credit card.
How can I support getting better bike infrastructure in my community, or encouraging others to ride?
Get involved with your local bicycle coalition! Find your local coalition here. If you love riding on open streets, you can thank your local bike advocates. If you like protected bike lanes and paths, thank your local bicycle coalition. When you join, you add to the power of the organization to push for change. And you’ll have the opportunity to get involved and speak up for the changes you want in your city.
Can you give some tips for beginning bikers? Or, maybe someone who’s doing some things for the first time, like biking with their kids, or carrying stuff? Asking for a friend.
Fantastic. Yes we can. Check out our Learn to Bike at Any Age page. You will find answers to all your questions.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
California will never have the equitable, prosperous and inclusive communities that CalBike advocates for until we address and redress the anti-Black violence that has plagued our country since slavery. We want to actively contribute to ending systemic racism, especially in transportation policy, and most especially in bicycling advocacy. We promise to listen and learn how we can best do this work. To our community members who experience the violence of racism on a daily basis: we see you, we hear you, and we stand with you.