Safety Corner Preparing for Solo Rides
The CRW ride program has been shut down, and these are riding-alone times.
I have been having some very enjoyable rides in the suburbs west of Route 128. Traffic is very light, although people are out walking, there are bicyclists alone or in family groups, and occasional cars. I would avoid riding where there are many people. Currently rail trails are crowded with inexperienced users and it’s difficult to maintain social distance. Also, avoid riding in places that are completely deserted. It’s possible nobody is likely to notice you if you take a fall and need help.
One main concern is to make it very unlikely that you will have to break social-distancing rules to get back home. Carry the tools and supplies for minor repairs on your bicycle – especially, a spare inner tube (yes, even if you run tubeless); a pump, which is good for multiple inflations; a brake cable, a shifter cable and the tools to replace them. If you have electronic shifting, a spare battery. So what if the tools and supplies add a couple pounds of weight? If you don’t know how to fix a flat tire, take advantage of online information to learn how, and practice at home.
Carry your cell phone. If you live with someone who can come in a car to pick you up, that is great, but even so, take measures to avoid getting stranded. You could carry ID legible from a social distance (e.g., your CRW name tag). It is possible to live log with RidewithGPS on a smartphone -- https://ridewithgps.com/help/live-logging, and so your location can be determined by family or friends even if they can't reach you.
For a long ride, carry food and water, rather than having to acquire them along the way, or risking the bonk. Know your route and be prepared for road closings or other changes. Take it easy, and turn around to come home early enough that you won’t exhaust yourself, even if you have to change your route.
Should you wear a face mask or not when riding? There isn’t a single answer. I always wear a mask for local shopping trips. I do think that the risk of infection is very low on the traveled secondary roads, and haven’t been wearing a mask there. I have addressed the issue at length, here: https://cyclingsavvy.org/2020/04/should-bicyclists-wear-face-masks/
Enjoy. Bicycling is a great way to calm the mind and avoid going stir-crazy. In some important ways – much lighter road traffic, lower air pollution – bicycling conditions are quite a lot better now than usual.
John Allen is CRW Safety Coordinator