These are crazy times and everyone is figuring out how to stay sane and keep positive, while also staying safe. Walking and bicycling are great ways to stay active, while also practicing social distancing. Walk Bike Nashville board member, Mindy Johnson, APRN, and Instructor of Nursing at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing helped us put together a quick Q&A about how to safely walk and bike in Nashville during these difficult days.
For additional info please consult the Metro Nashville Health Department, the Center for Disease Control, or your own healthcare provider.
Last updated 4/14/2020
1. Is it safe to ride my bicycle outside or go for a walk?
Yes! If you are healthy and not experiencing any symptoms there is no reason for you to stop walking or bicycling as long as you maintain current guidance on social distancing. The CDC defines social distancing as “putting space between yourself and others.” The general recommendation is at least 6 feet distance apart.
Avoid contact with any “high touch” areas (e.g. benches, ledges etc.) while out and carry hand sanitizer or hand wipes in a ziploc bag so you can clean your hands immediately after any contact with a surface. Remember to avoid touching your face. Upon returning home, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
2. I currently have a fever and a cough, is it safe for me to walk and bike?
No! Please do not go out in public spaces while sick as you are a risk to others. Consult the CDC’s website for advice on self-management of your illness.
3. Will strenuous exercise weaken my immune system?
Exercise is good for your physical and mental health and more important than ever during this time. It releases endorphins and is key to a strong-functioning immune system. As long as you practice social distancing, activities such as walks, runs, bike rides and yard work are encouraged.
4. Is it okay to ride bicycles with a group?
Please refer to the CDC guidelines on social distancing. We do not support or endorse any club, team, group, or social group rides during this time period. We encourage all cyclists to ride solo or with small groups of people from the same household (so long as everyone is healthy and not in contact with sick individuals), maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from each other, until restrictions for the coronavirus pandemic are lifted. According to Metro Nashville’s “Safer at Home Order” all gatherings are strongly discouraged, and those with 10 or more people are prohibited.
Social distancing sucks, but it is one of the best ways to prevent spread of the virus and protect those more vulnerable.
5. I haven’t seen my friend in a while. Can I meet up to go for a walk?
Metro Nashville’s “Safer at Home Order” discourages all non essential visits to friends or family. If you are healthy and go out for a walk make sure you stay at least 6 feet away from other individuals with whom you do not share a household. Groups of over 10 people are prohibited. It would be safest to walk with healthy members of the same household if possible. You could also talk on the phone with a friend or loved one while walking in your own separate places.
6. Are the greenways or trails in Nashville a safe place to go?
Yes! Nashville’s trails and greenways are a great resource to get out and get some fresh air. You can find some great maps on Greenways for Nashville’s website. Metro Parks released a list of tips for park use. Keep a safe distance between yourself and others (again, at least 6 feet), warn other trail users of your presence as your pass, note that some restrooms will be closed, bring water and drinks (please avoid using public drinking fountains), avoid touching your face, cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and avoid going out if you are feeling sick. Try to go out during non-peak hours to better avoid crowds. If an area is crowded, find another less busy place to enjoy the outdoors. Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds upon return home.
7. If the air can hold COVID-19 for 3 hours, is walking or riding on a greenway, where others have passed within that time, risky?
Although the virus has been demonstrated to live in droplets and in aerosol form in air in laboratory experiments, the outdoor environment is very different and the risk of transmission of COVID-19 by passing through air that an infected person recently passed through is currently thought to be extremely low. See "How does COVID-19 spread" here: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
- Practice Social Distancing as much as practicable
- Go to low traffic public places, at off-peak times, as a way of reducing the risk even further
8. Is it safe to use B-Cyle bike share bikes?
Bicycling is a great way to get some fresh air, but Nashville B-cycles bikes are shared. We recommend riding your own bike if you can. If you do use a B-Cycle bike, bring a disinfectant wipe to clean the bike both before and after use, focusing on areas of contact. Avoid touching your face, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. And again, don’t ride a shared bike if you are feeling sick!
9. I need to get my bike fixed before I ride. Are there any bike shops open?
Some shops are open with limited items for repairs only. At the time of writing the status of shops is below. You can also always check the websites/social media for each shop to get the latest (linked below):
- Cumberland Transit: Open 10-4 Monday to Friday for curbside pickup. Call ahead/
- Green Fleet: Open for curbside service, call ahead.
- Halcyon Bike Shop: Open 10-2 is open limited hours and will take your bike in for repair at the door, but no browsing.
- Moab (East Nashville, Franklin, Murfreesboro): Curbside pickup for repairs and special orders, and will be open for sales by appointment.
- REI Brentwood: Currently Closed
- Ride 615 Hermitage/Sylvan Park: Open with limited hours and limitations on number of people in store. See details here.
- Shelby Ave Bicycle Shop: Currently Closed
10. Are Nashville parks open?
Yes, as of today Metro Parks are still open, though all facilities and offices are closed, and all programs are canceled at least until April 24th. For the latest info check out Metro’s Coronavirus website’s service tracker website.
11. Should I wear a face mask while walking or bicycling?
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures (like staying 6 feet or more feet apart) are difficult to maintain. Please refer to the CDC's FAQ about face coverings here.
Again, information related to COVID-19 is changing daily. Please refer to local government agency guidelines (CDC, TDOH) for the latest recommendations.
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