Some experts say you should be wearing a facemask when cycling during the current coronavirus measures, including the Groupe de Recherche et d’Action des Cyclistes Quotidiens (GRACQ).
“Although there are currently few requirements, GRACQ recommends this health precautionary measure in certain cases,” says the association, which represents cyclists in French-speaking Belgium.
In the absence of uniform official instructions about mask wearing while riding a bike, GRACQ released its own official opinion.
They point out that official guidelines say wearing a mask “is recommended in the public space, especially when maintaining a safe physical distance is not possible,” and that the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine recommends them as a tool for slowing the spread of droplets in social spaces.
“Cycling, like running, generates potentially contaminating microdroplets, as shown in a joint study by the KU Leuven and the University of Eindhoven,” GRACQ said.
“Without a mask, the recommended physical distance increases with speed. In some cases, such as on busy cycle paths or in confined pedestrian areas, it can exceed the distance that is tenable.”
The organisation also pointed out that epidemiologists have warned about the risk of a second epidemic wave.
“In view of this information, in addition to the areas where it is compulsory, GRACQ recommends wearing a bicycle mask when there is a high density of cyclists or pedestrians (in areas shared with them),” the organisation wrote.
“Outside of these cases, it is up to each individual to judge whether or not it is necessary to wear it. Cycling should remain a pleasure.”
Suggested tips for wearing a mask while cycling include applying the rules of good practice in order to make sure the mask is really effective, and remembering that it isn’t a replacement for other barrier measures like social distancing.
“Since the required safety distance increases with speed, GRACQ also recommends adapting one’s speed in this particular health context, where one is in contact with other non-motorised users. In this respect, GRACQ advocates the widening of cycle paths: they should never be less than 1.5 metres.”
Others in the cycling community have echoed the call for wearing a mask while riding a bike, like Cycling News, and Bicycling.com even has suggestions for how to wear two masks at the same time while riding, in keeping with guidelines from the American Centre for Disease Control.