As part of our public and civil duty we are all to adhere to the current requirements and recommendations of the Governments and their agents. Not following these actually put you, your loved ones and those in the communities risk. Social distancing is a required to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others. But for the cyclists of Calgary what does that mean?
Firstly well done to the City of Calgary for widening certain recognized popular routes by shutting down vehicle lanes and deliberately not publishing them as this will just attract more people. This really helps but remember that its not the intent to allow more cyclist to use these routes, just to help those whom need to use them maintain social distancing.
Some Provinces have issued guidelines or mandatory actions for cyclists, but here in Calgary what can we do and what do we need to do so that we are not adding to or being part of the problem? With Easter long weekend around the corner and the weather improving, here are some points to consider;
Plan a new route. Calgary has over 984 kms of cycle paths so there is no shortage of routes to take around your area. Review the online City maps at https://maps.calgary.ca/PathwaysandBikeways/, which can help you plan a safe local ride and explore the marked routes and pathways to new places. All we need is to get out and achieve a set level of exercise during these times and riding around taking in the fresh air, finding new places and getting out from those four walls to see in your local area is actually quite enjoyable.
Avoid the popular routes and pathways. This is as we know not the time to drive to our local popular parking area or take a ride down by Bow river. Some of the cycle-ways are shared in certain sections with walkers and runners, so social distancing doesn’t work there no matter how hard you try or think its OK. The route around the reservoir or at Fish Creek are also cross-over points for walkers, runners and riders and you have no way of maintaining social distancing around those routes. Nose Hill is also busy with dog walkers whom also need their space and exercise. A local ride around your neighborhood or area is all you really need to get sufficient exercise or your riding “fix”.
Timing is everything! Chose your time when you can ride. Avoid commute times for those whom actually need to use popular routes to commute to work. Vary your ride time if work allows which will help you break up the days differently so as to not a create routine out of it. With lighter evenings coming why not go for an evening ride perhaps?
Be socially responsible! If you see someone coming towards you such as a family group out walking or riding, stop, pull over, get off the pathway and allow them to pass and maintain their social distancing. Stop and wait at footbridges for them to clear before crossing. Don’t compromise someone else’s social distancing to suit your needs. Don’t overtake someone but drop back until there is plenty of room to pass maintaining a distance between you. Be courteous and of course say “hi”!
Don’t be a burden! Remember to always carry your accessories with you (a spare tube, pump, tool and tire levers as a minimum) in case you have a puncture or minor mechanical. Ride carefully and maintain your awareness at all times. Even though there are less vehicles out there, always obey the road traffic signs and take zero chances at intersections or where cycle-ways have to cross roads. Stop, look both ways and listen! Putting a further burden on the support services at these times because you’ve had an accident or cannot get home is going to do the opposite to what you’ve set out to achieve. This could put you and those that are there for other right now at risk!
Don’t mind the weather! Exercise routines indoors can also help your core muscles groups and of course your mental well-being in relaxing, preparing and maintaining your cycling fitness. You don’t have to have a set of rollers or exercise equipment to do this and you can even do this with your family. Take some time to maintain your bike. Clean the chain, deflate and re-inflate the tires to the right pressures, check your gears and add some lubricant where applicable. There are many videos online which are specifically geared to cycling to help you on all of this.
So in summary, get on your bike and explore Calgary, your local area and avoid the popular routes and places. Don’t crowd them out for the people who need to use them! Be safe and keep your distance!