With the Mayor of Atlanta continuing to encourage residents to stay at home if possible, the vast majority of Atlanta businesses are continuing to operate as they adapt to working remotely. Many residents not considered essential workers are choosing to maintain physical distancing and minimize their out-of-the-house interactions with other people.
As many living under virtual lockdown are learning, time outside for exercise, mental health, and as a means of transportation, is proving crucial. Here’s some guidance we’ve rounded up on how to responsibly enjoy the streets of Midtown, whether it’s to walk your dog, bike to the pharmacy, or get in a bit of cardio.
Step 1: Mask Up
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is currently recommending that all people who go out in public—especially in places with significant community transition of coronavirus—wear cloth face coverings. The website includes step-by-step instructions for homemade face masks, including no-sew options, and options using a t-shirt or a bandana. The CDC notes that cloth masks are an important public health step in reducing the spread of the coronavirus from asymptomatic people who may not realize they have the coronavirus. So, once you get yourself a cloth face covering, it’s time to start thinking about other steps to maximize safety for yourself and others who are venturing out of their dwellings.
There are many factors to take into consideration in terms of bike safety when it comes to going for a ride during the pandemic. First, basic maintenance practices are crucial to check up on before going on a ride, especially if you’ve not ridden in a while.
Conduct an ABC-Quick Check. See the below diagram or watch this video to guide you.
Diagram from the League of American Bicyclists
A is for Air. Are your tires properly inflated?
B is for Brakes. Are your brake pads at least ¼ inch thick? Can you can fit your thumb between the brake lever and handlebar when the brakes are squeezed all the way?
C is for Cranks and Chain. Are your cranks tight, not loose? Is your chain free of rust and debris?
Quick is for Quick Releases. Are your quick releases closed and pointing toward the back of the bike?
Check is for check it over. Give your bike a short ride around to make sure it feels correct before taking it on a trip.
Get a tune-up. If you are encountering challenges with your bike, or need it professionally fixed, there are bike shops and maintenance companies available to assist. One local bike shop, Aztec, provides mobile bike mechanic services and can meet you at your home and safely service your bike. Many local bike shops, like Loose Nuts in Grant Park, have creative ways to maintain social distancing, like a contactless repair system.
Find a route. Take a look at Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s map of roads in Atlanta, designated by their safety levels for cyclists. If you live in Midtown, this map of Midtown bike routes will be helpful. Google maps has a bike route feature as well, and here is an article on how to optimize your bike route mapping. If you’d like personalized assistance, request a route plan through Midtown Transportation to get from your residence to your desired destination.
If you want more guidance on how to prepare for a safe ride, join one of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s free virtual bike classes.
Once your bike is tuned up and you know your route, make sure you are being as smart as possible. Avoid group rides with people outside of your household, as riding together may make it challenging to maintain 6 feet of social distancing.
”Solitary outdoor exercise is likely low-risk,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia said to Vox.
If you’re feeling healthy, put on a mask, get on your bike, and ride to your destination, reducing stops if possible. And please, blow your nose into a tissue.
When you’re going for a walk, whether it’s to help a neighbor while maintaining safe distance, get some exercise, or run an essential errand, make sure you’re being smart and respectful.
That means maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between you and other pedestrians at all times. For those who live in Midtown, many streets like Peachtree Street and West Peachtree Street have wider sidewalks to allow for proper social distancing, some even have a width of up to 15 feet.
If you’re walking with your household group, walk single file when passing others. If you’re running, give extra space around people who might not expect or see you coming. And if you’re walking and physically able, step aside for others before they move for you. After all, not everybody has the ability to physically step out of the way.
“When I go out now, I imagine that everyone is smoking, and I pick my path to get the least exposure to that smoke,” said Virginia Tech engineering professor and airborne disease transmission expert Linsey Marr in an interview with CityLab.
And if you’re walking in Midtown, be sure to look up at the signs for the #MidtownPlaylist for some inspirational songs.