An interview with an infectious disease specialist on responsible riding
Neighborhood ride

We recently interviewed Dr. Karen Treakle, the infectious disease specialist at Polyclinic, about what precautions cyclists should take when riding outdoors during the time of social distancing in order to stay safe. Read on to learn what she has to say. 

 

What precautions should cyclists take when riding outdoors?

"Riding outdoors on your own bicycle should pose minimal risk for acquisition of COVID-19. Of course, you should follow the advisory to keep a six-foot distance to avoid respiratory droplets that can transmit COVID-19, but that distance should be easy for cyclists. 

If you are using a rental bike, you should wipe the handlebars with a disinfectant wipe prior to riding. If you are unable to use a disinfectant wipe, you should try to avoid touching your face. After riding a rental bike, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer."

Is the threat of coronavirus contraction greater indoors or outdoors?

"The risk of contracting COVID-19 is lower outdoors as the droplets are more likely to be dispersed. Respiratory droplets do not linger in the air."

Is saliva a vector, and if so what steps must cyclists take when spitting or clearing their nasal passages?

"Saliva can contain viruses shed from the oropharynx as well as phlegm from the upper and lower respiratory tracts.  If you need to spit or clear your nasal passages, try to do so facing downwind and away from others."

Can hard exercise depress the immune system and make one more susceptible? In other words what precautions should hardcore racers take now?

"Strenuous exercise weakens the immune system. For most athletes – even hardcore cyclists – the benefit of continuing their training program will outweigh the risk. Some precautions to take to avoid illness include maintaining a balanced diet, practicing good hand hygiene, and ensuring adequate sleep to allow the body to recuperate."

Do you recommend that people who bicycle for exercise continue doing so?

"Absolutely! Regular aerobic exercise promotes a healthy immune system and can decrease chronic systemic inflammation."

Is it safe to ride Jump or bike share bikes, and what steps should users take?

"Yes, same as above." (Wipe the handlebars with a disinfectant wipe prior to riding. If you are unable to use a disinfectant wipe, you should try to avoid touching your face. After riding a rental bike, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.)

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Paul Tolmé