Bike routes and trails throughout Eugene were crowded with riders during May long before campus closures and stay at home orders came down.
Eugene and Springfield have been celebrating Bike Month in May since 2014 as a way to encourage community members to stay active and to celebrate biking together. This year, the Lane County community is finding new ways to celebrate the month.
Instead of planning in-person events, local partners have been planning self-guided rides, events, speakers and how-to videos such as 31 Rides in May and Transportation Talk Tuesday.
While riders are not able to bike together, the non-profit Greater Eugene Area Riders created 31 Rides in May as an activity to encourage riders to get outside.
The City of Eugene Transportation team has also been hosting live streams each Tuesday with local guest speakers and live Q&As to focus on topics of family biking, bike education and bike share.
Lindsey Hayward, the general manager for PeaceHealth Rides, stated that the bike share service is still available for riders to continue to exercise and to use the service for errands. The service also remains an option for community members in Eugene who want to try out biking in celebration of May is Bike Month.
In order to ensure the safety of their customers, PeaceHealth Rides has been actively monitoring the coronavirus situation and taking precautionary steps such as keeping bikes clean and reducing operational levels, Hayward said.
“We have increased the frequency of cleaning, and we are disinfecting all bikes coming and out of our workshops,” Hayward said. “But we also encourage riders to clean the handles of their bikes before and after use.”
PeaceHealth Rides has recommended that riders avoid crowded bike routes, maintain a 6-foot distance from others and wash their hands before and after rides.
Hayward said that ridership has been down 70% to 80%, which she takes as a sign that people are following the stay-at-home orders. Instead, she said trip lengths on PeaceHealth bikes have been significantly longer.
“This is a positive sign bike share is a resource for people during the current situation,” Hayward said. “And I am thankful we are able to stay open.”
The University of Oregon Outdoor Program, which is also partnered with May is Bike Month, has also been affected by the current restrictions. Assistant Director Salmon Stroich stated the program has been unable to lead events. Instead, Stroich said the program has been sharing bike-related material through social media.
The Bike Program, which is a part of the Outdoor Program, also began offering free flat fixes to community members at the beginning of May. Stroich said the program has slowly been opening the door to business in small phases and has protocols in place in order to ensure the safety of its employees and customers.
“When folks arrive, they are required to remove their own wheel and put the wheel in a tub outside the door,” he said.
Workers then clean and disinfect the wheel before fixing the flat, Stroich said.
Stroich said the Outdoor Program is still encouraging students to get outside and to stay healthy, while also maintaining physical distancing. “Bike riding and walking or hiking can be an excellent way to do that,” Stroich said. “But all of those activities can also violate social distancing if people are doing it in groups and being too close to each other.”