Social Distancing While Sharing the Trails

Posted by Laura Harris on April 13, 2020 in Bicycle Safety , Education

Tips for safe biking in a solitary Spring

This month many of us have found ourselves with a bit more time on our hands, and with public transit and rideshare now less of an option, biking to get around is looking more appealing than ever (especially with the Bike Easy April Challenge underway). However, we all need to do our part to keep people safe and healthy – and some new research suggests that COVID-19 can be spread farther by those exercising outdoors.
Whether you’ve been a long-time avid bike rider or just getting started on two wheels, here are some tips to get you safely soaring through this solitary spring on streets and paths packed with people on bikes.

Use Special Caution On Shared Paths
Shared paths like the Lafitte Greenway or Mississippi River Levee Trail offer opportunities for all kinds of modes of transportation and recreation. Here you can expect to see people of all ages biking, walking, skating, people with dogs, wheelchairs, baby strollers…. the list goes on. With more people than ever out using the trails, extra caution is needed to keep your safe distance.

  • Give space – Be sure to maintain much more distance when riding behind someone walking, jogging, or biking. To reduce risks of entering the airflow of another person when biking, running or walking, avoid being directly behind another person, either by traveling side by side or by moving together in a staggered formation. The faster pace you’re biking, the more distance you should give yourself from others.
  • Be especially courteous on these paths – if you want to ride fast, ride in the road! You may need to be patient and wait to pass others at an appropriate distance, one at a time. Make sure to be at opposite edges of the trail to give yourself the most space to pass safely.
  • Know the rules of the trail you’re using.
  • Give a clear signal when passing others – ring your bell and announce yourself – “Passing on your left!”
  • Be cautious at intersections and yield to crossing traffic. Greenway crossings at Broad and Claiborne may require extra caution. Be sure to keep your safe distance if waiting with others to cross.

Give your Bike a Checkup
A good idea every time you hop on your bike, but especially if you’re hopping on for the first time in a while. It’s always much better to diagnose any potential issues at home before your ride rather than risk potentially breaking down in the road and finding yourself stuck in an unsafe situation. Do the ABC Quick Check to make sure your tires are fully inflated, your brakes are functioning properly, your chain is in good working order, and that your bolts and quick releases are secure.

Be Prepared
Just like anytime you leave the house these days, be sure to wear your face mask to keep your germs to yourself. Bring along gloves and hand sanitizer just in case you find yourself needing to touch anything. Bike baskets, racks, and panniers are great ways to carry things on your bike. Carrying basic bike tools, a hand pump, a spare tube or patch kit will keep you rolling if you encounter any mechanical issues. And don’t forget your helmet!

Stay Visible
Longer daylight hours are a blessing for better riding conditions, but make sure you can always be seen by cars and other people on bikes. Always use lights at night (a white light in front and red light in the rear) and wear bright and reflective clothing.

Stay Predictable
By always following the rules of the road or path, you’ll keep yourself and others safe on the road and vastly lessen the chance of getting too close to someone else or risking a collision Always bike in the direction of traffic. Use clear communication and hand signals to make your intentions clear to others. Ride predictably in a straight line.

Be Aware
Pay attention to other road and trail users around you, especially children, people with dogs, or other people you might perceive to move more erratically. Reduce distractions – don’t use your phone or have earphones in while riding. Be sure that there’s nothing blocking seeing and hearing what’s around you.

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