There has been a lot of discussion as to what is ‘safe’ in terms of outdoor exercise and transportation over the last few weeks with the implied threat of COVID-19 infections.
Unfortunately, early on in the onslaught of information, there was a lot of poorly done ‘research’ into the subject of how the disease was being spread, and people with little grounding in infectious diseases and epidemiology jumped into the fray adding noise to the signal. The result is that there remains a lot of misunderstanding about the risks of riding, running and walking outdoors during this time.
Now we are finally beginning to get some fairly balanced information from multiple sources that indicate a very different reality. One that is telling us that we need to stay active both for our health, and for our ability to combat the virus if/when we are infected. What we are also discovering is that running, walking and cycling, while practicing social distancing are good options, for both transportation and fitness.
One of the aspects of all of this that is going to be a challenge as we reopen the world is a new dynamic. Public transportation, like busses and heavy rail are going to problematic. Ride sharing solutions like Uber and Lyft are also facing harsh new realities. Individual personal light transportation platforms are poised for a huge surge. That means bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, e-skateboard, and many other options are suddenly rising to the forefront of both fitness and transportation worlds.
To such a degree, that the World Health Organization has made statements directly addressing this with an announcement that cycling is encouraged, both as transport and as a way of staying healthy during the global crisis.
In a statement the organisation said: “While cities around the world are introducing a broad range of measures to limit physical contacts to prevent and slow down the COVID-19 pandemic, many people might still have a need to move around cities to reach their workplaces when possible, meet essential daily needs or provide assistance to vulnerable people”
“Whenever feasible, consider riding bicycles or walking: this provides physical distancing while helping to meet the minimum requirement for daily physical activity, which may be more difficult due to increased teleworking, and limited access to sport and other recreational activities.”
Most of the United States infrastructure is ill equipped to handle this new reality, with few non-car transportation, non-public transit corridors. It will be important for cities and communities to quickly embrace this new reality, with short and long term plans to deal with the slow return of cars to the roadways mixed in with the broad reemergence of other non-car transpotation models.