An agency contacted me months ago about being featured on the blog of their client, Georgia Commute Options. Georgia Commute Options encourages businesses to provide and promote a wide variety of transportation alternatives to their employees in order to reduce single-occupancy motor-vehicle commutes and the impacts of such. I was impressed that they went outside-the-box to include me as a commuter as I am not singularly employed by a sole company. (Here’s my definition of commuter, by the way.)
Nick and Ali interviewed me via phone, and then Ali met me to take photos at the MARTA transit station I use most often. They wrote the article and allowed me the opportunity to see it to check it for accuracy. (Note: there is no easy way to explain the circuitous path my younger daughter and I have taken the past few years, so it’s mentioned just briefly — that is actually a whole other story).
Months passed. I got word Friday that the article is finally now live, which would be great except we are now, of course, knee-deep in the coronavirus crisis and there is no mention of that in the article, so perhaps it feels a hair tone-deaf to you. Therefore, with Nick’s support, I wanted to augment it a bit with coronavirus-related insights. Here goes:
1. Mass Transit If you do need to take mass transit during this time, bikes are allowed at all times on buses and trains in metro Atlanta. The place you stand with it on the train distances you from the rest of the passengers who are sitting (see super-short video below), which may enable you to attain appropriate social distancing during the coronavirus crisis (see here for how to load a bike onto a public bus — check if your city offers this option).
If you have the option to bring a light bike with you (as opposed to a heavy mountain bike), this may make it easier to avoid elevators and carry it up stairs instead, if you are physically able to do so, thereby further avoiding close contact with other people.
Having a bike for your final mile helps you avoid close encounters with those who are walking while on your way to your final destination, as six feet is recommended for social distancing and that is not possible on a typical sidewalk. For instance, BikeNoodle, shown in this photo (and which I currently use only when I ride in suburbia), is three feet long. Picture twice that length. That’s what’s recommended for social distancing.
2. Bikeshare Cities such as New York are experiencing a surge in bikeshare use as people avoid the crowded subways, and I even heard that additional safe access from motor vehicles on heavily traveled routes is starting to be provided (which is great, because there’s this as a barrier, of course). Bikeshare operators are taking additional steps to disinfect bikes and make them more available. I have heard nothing about that here in Atlanta regarding Relay Bikeshare (but I do know locally-owned-and-operated business Bicycle Tours of Atlanta is taking extra precautions). Check your city. Carry disinfecting wipes with you, and maybe even a pair of gloves, if you intend to use bikeshare.
3. Working from Home If you are working from home during this time and live in a place without access to bikeshare, consider getting that unused bike in your garage or attic* tuned up or even buying a new or used bike if you don’t have one so you have it to use for quick local errands (such as picking up takeout food to help support local businesses, as my city councilor recommends) or exercise. Your local bike shop needs your business, and the bike provides social distancing while reducing stress, boosting your health, and connecting you to your community through waves and nods and as an alternative to walking or grabbing coffee with a friend. Note: If you need a refresher on bike skills and safety, see here.
If you are driving a motor vehicle during this time, please be extra aware that more people may be riding bikes, including those who are not used to doing so (including children who are home from schools).
The immediate future is very uncertain, but one thing that has been true in the past is that bikes (and gardens) help. Perhaps that will prove true again this time.
* If interested in what happened after I took down a bike from my attic after twenty years, you may enjoy Chapter 2: The Bike in the Attic, in my quick-read book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike.