Biking during COVID-19


Note: Everything in this post could change very quickly. We’re doing our best to stay up on current guidance, but we’re not public health experts, so please follow recommendations from your local government and the CDC.

Are you allowed to ride your bike?

Provisionally, yes. Bicycling is included in lists of allowable recreation in Maryland, DC, and Virginia.

Should you ride your bike?

That depends. If you have symptoms or believe you may have been exposed to the Coronavirus, please stay inside. If you need help or supplies, here are some groups offering support. If you just need some exercise, the internet is full of indoor cross training regimens (here’s one, here’s another) for bicycling that will make you faster and stronger when it’s safe to be out in public again. (Just maybe be mindful of your downstairs neighbors if you’re doing jumping jacks). 

If you are not in one of the above categories, there are safe ways to be outside and on a bicycle, whether you need to because your job is considered essential or for physical and emotional health.

Here are our guidelines:

You are responsible for the safety and health of everybody around you.

Pass pedestrians and other bicyclists with at least 6 feet (or more if you’re moving fast) of space every single time. At intersections stop before the intersection to leave 6 feet between you and folks using the crosswalk. At narrow places, slow down enough to be 100% sure that no one is coming in the other direction. More about masks here.

No snot rockets. 

No nose schmearing with your gloves. 

No spitting. 

No high fives. 🙁

Ride quieter routes or at quieter times. 

If you do not have a required destination, try for a meandering route that doesn’t include a popular destination or try and go for an off-peak time. Trails are extremely busy right now: data from regional trail and bike lane counters shows that trail traffic is quietest before 8am, and that fewer people are riding on streets and bike lanes. 

If you’re going out at dawn or in the dark, make sure you have lights.

If you do ride on a trail, remember that pedestrians always have the right of way, so plan on pulling off the trail to maintain a safe social distance. 

Some inspiration: Find the weirdest thing you can in your neighborhood. Seek out a new favorite tree. Is it more fun to ride up or down the steepest hill in your neighborhood?

Make a plan.

Many parks and trails are closed, as are most trail-side park services like restrooms and water fountains. Many businesses are also closed or operating in a limited way. Make sure you have all the water, and snacks, and tools  you will need for your ride. 

Play it safe.

Take it slow, pay attention, don’t go off any jumps. Now is not the time to push your limits or take a big risk. Emergency rooms are overburdened already, and if you show up with a broken collarbone because you tried to learn a Danny MacCaskill trick, you’re taking time from doctors and nurses who need to be treating people who are sick. 

Stay close to home.

Country roads and wilderness adventures may feel tempting, but rural medical resources are even more strained right now. 

Disinfect and isolate your outdoor gear.

Clean your handlebars and other contact points when you get home. At this point, it is reasonable caution to keep shoes, bikes, clothes that have been outside isolated or washed after you’ve been outside. 

Ride alone, or with your household.

Do not ride in a group that is not your household. Period. If you are feeling competitive, take it to Strava. If you need to socialize, put together a photo scavenger hunt with your friends or maybe plan a digital ride with your friends, ride at the same time and share interesting photos?

Hang out with us on the internet.

Biking is still a great solo transportation and recreation option for many people. Has it been a bit since you’ve ridden? We have weekly webinars on and online meetups at waba.org/fun. Give us a call at (202) 430-6385 or outreach@waba.org if you have route planning or general biking questions. (If you need mechanical support, call your local bike shop.)


Last updated by Ursula Sandstrom on May 8, 2020.