With people around the world asked to shelter in place, our parks have become more popular than usual. Whether you’re a casual cruiser or a hardcore enthusiast, now is the time to prioritize safe trail use and interactions above thrill-seeking fun with friends.
As a community of outdoor enthusiasts, we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us – to help stop a global pandemic and be model trail citizens during this difficult, scary time.
It’s on all of us to know and follow our local guidelines, but here are some suggestions created by our friends at Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz:
- Stay home as much as possible!
- Exercise and sanity are absolutely important, however, we recommend that everyone stay at home as much as possible until this situation passes. Countries that have figured out how to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 have all enacted much stricter social distancing measures than we are experiencing here in California.
- If you do go out, act as if you and everyone you encounter out on the trails has the virus.
- Give plenty of room (at least 6 feet when standing, many times that when riding), wash your hands frequently, and bring hand sanitizer with you on rides just in case you need it.
- Wear a face mask everywhere except in your own house or while actually riding (we’ve found it’s hard to wear one while riding, otherwise we would!). Show courtesy to others by wearing your mask whenever possible.
- Do not drive to a riding location
- Following California guidelines, only drive across town for the absolute essentials! Car crashes are no joke, and driving to the trailhead is unacceptable right now, as automotive transport facilitates virus spread between communities. Get to know your local park, or explore new areas nearby home.
- Please, do not ride/hike/do anything in large groups, aim for solo activities as much as possible!
- Gathering in a large group and hitting the trails increases the chance of virus transmission between members of your group as well as transmission to other trail users. As a large group, you create a bigger obstacle for other users and set a bad example for the outdoor community.
- Tell your loved ones our housemate your route, share your location with them on your phone and provide them with an expected return time if you are concerned for your safety when heading out for a solo ride.
- Building on the previous warning, do not shuttle under any circumstances!
- Gathering together in a car, driving to a new area, and riding in a group is a dangerous and unnecessary risk to put on yourself and the community you are visiting. Maintaining the recommended 6’ between yourself and others is not possible in a car with all your buds.
- In the event that parks shut down, please respect closures
- If closures do occur, they are for the best of our community’s health. Respect the experts here, and avoid closed areas at all times.
- Pick off-hours to ride, and avoid times of heavy traffic
- If you do choose to enjoy the outdoors, pick a time when you believe there will be low traffic on the trails.
- For example, riding at 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday is likely better than riding at 10:00 a.m.
- Keep rides short and conservative if you do choose to enjoy the trails
- We know that injuring yourself is never the goal when enjoying the outdoors. That said, stay in your comfort zone and do not put unnecessary pressure on emergency services or our trails.
- Our health system cannot support additional emergencies right now, and no one wants to be the one to distract medical resources from an ongoing pandemic.
- Keep your rides short and sweet for the time being. Give others ample opportunity to enjoy the trails!
- Use the bathroom before your ride, and avoid snot rockets while on the trail
- Many public restrooms are closed (they’re a huge vector for disease!), so do your business before hitting the trail.
- No one wants to encounter your snot during their park visit, especially if it could cause transmission.
- Keep your dog on a leash
- Dogs can be a vector for COVID-19, so keep your pup on a leash while enjoying the trails!
- Stock up on water before you hit the trails, do not share food or tools
- Avoid using public water fountains (they’re another vector), and make sure your bottles are filled before heading out the door.
- This isn’t the time to swap snacks or share gear. Keep your tools to yourself, and if you absolutely must help someone out, sanitize tools before and after use.
- Give people the space and time they need to use the trail safely
- Slow down more than usual, and give fellow trail users more room than you may normally give should you need to pass.
- Now is a time to prioritize the experience of others. Keep trail interactions safe, kind and respectful.
- Speak up if others are not following these recommendations! Share this knowledge.
- If you encounter a group of folks shuttling or disrespecting social distances, say something to them in a respectful and informative way.
- We’re in this together and need to hold one another accountable.
Please remember - your choices have consequences!
CA State Parks also has some great guidelines to consider during this stressful time.
What’s at risk if trails aren’t respected during this time:
- Access to public spaces
- Health of you and your loved ones
- This virus travels in clusters, meaning once one a member of a household is infected, it is likely to infect other members. The best way to stay healthy is to stay home or ride/hike alone.
Please remember — your choices have consequences! Any of the choices in the below gif could easily apply to going out for a group ride on our trails. We know that times are hard right now, but please take the time to slow down and think through the way you use trails and interact with others during this time.