May is (still) Bike Month
By Wendy Weitzel
Social distancing might keep us from hosting in-person events, but it doesn’t stop us from getting out for solo bike rides or trips with other members of our household.
Hopping on a bike is a great way to enjoy the spring weather, get some exercise, and feel mentally refreshed. The practice not only relieves stress, it may start a healthy habit worth keeping down the road. And it’s absolutely allowed during the shelter-in-place order, as long as you maintain at least 6 feet physical distance.
Wearing a face covering is not required while engaging in outdoor recreation such as walking, hiking, bicycling or running. However, anyone engaged in such activity must comply with distancing requirements. Everyone should carry a face covering with them, to use if needed.
According to the April 24 Yolo County Public Health order requiring face coverings, runners and cyclists must take extra precautions. These activities cause people to forcefully expel airborne particles, making the usual six feet inadequate.
The following measures help runners and cyclists from exposing others:
- When running, cross the street to avoid pedestrians on sidewalks.
- When unable to leave the sidewalks, slow down and move to the side when approaching others.
- Never spit.
- Avoid running or cycling directly in front of or behind another runner or cyclist who is not in the same household.
The city of Davis reminds residents that May is (still) Bike Month. Each year, the Sacramento Regional Council of Governments hosts May is Bike Month. This year, it goes virtual but offers more badges and prizes to participants.
Not a regular bicyclist? With fewer cars on the road, it’s a perfect time to practice, and add it to your routine. Need a bike? Many local bike stores are offering online or phone sales (with advice on fitting), as well as no-contact bicycle repairs. (Bicycle-repair services are deemed essential). Additionally, the Bike Campaign offers free Saturday-morning repairs, by appointment, and sells used bikes. Email Maria Contreras Tebbutt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use your bicycle for essential trips to the grocery or hardware store, or to the Davis Farmers Market. Support local businesses with outings for takeout coffee or dinner.
Cycling can be educational for children too. Play an “I Spy” game, participate in the Bike Month Bingo contest, practice biking to your school, use the exercise as physical education, or decorate your family’s helmets for an art project.
Lorretta Moore, program coordinator for the city’s Safe Routes to School program, said, “This year, we can’t gather together to celebrate May is Bike Month, but it’s still a great time to focus on health, safety and fun. Our streets are much quieter, giving us a great opportunity to practice walking or biking around our neighborhoods while schools are closed and we’re all looking for fun activities to keep our families engaged. It’s a great time to learn to ride a bike or rediscover biking if you haven’t done it in a while.”
The city of Davis hosts the Getting Around Davis website. This page, https://gettingarounddavis.org/events/2020-may-is-bike-month, offers bike-education videos and training courses, and tips on how to change a tire, choose a lock and secure your helmet. There are ideas for art projects, including how to make a mask out of old T-shirts. Learn the rules of the road or how to give your bike a bath.
The city’s Safe Routes to Schools Program has a webpage focused on safe walking and biking activities during the pandemic. Visit https://cityofdavis.org/saferoutes.
The page has resources, tips and links for:
- Planning walking and cycling routes around town. Ideas include touring Davis on a public art tour using the Davis Art Map, visiting historic sites with another map, or exploring nature trails to see wildlife, birds and landmark trees.
- Bicycle safety resources with routes like the Davis Bike Map, and bicycle training videos.
- Pedestrian safety and a guide to mindful walking.
- Additional tips on how to stay active while sheltering in place.
Jennifer Donofrio, the city’s bike and pedestrian coordinator, said she’s “happy to be seeing and hearing about more people walking and biking. I highly recommend that folks take our free online bike education class to learn rules of the road. Knowing them will make your riding experience more comfortable and safer.”
Learn more about the free class at https://www.cityofdavis.org/bike and click on Biking with Confidence.
Meanwhile, it’s always valuable to know bike etiquette when using local pathways. Here are some tips:
- Travel at a speed that allows you to react. Slow down when approaching others. Cyclist who want to travel faster should use the road.
- Don’t block the path. Keep right, ride single file, and pass on the left. Don’t swerve between others.
- Pay attention (get off of your phone) and move predictably. Say “on your left” or ring your bell to alert others you are approaching or passing. Check for others at intersections and crosswalks.
- Use front and rear lights at night. Aim the lights at the pavement, not toward others. If you bring your dog, add a light for them too.
- If you have tweens or teens who bike independently, talk to them about pathway etiquette and using appropriate speeds.
It’s the perfect time to create good habits that will improve your well-being and lighten your carbon footprint.