A Maine bicyclist wears a face covering while out for a ride. Credit: Courtesy of Bicycle Coalition of Maine

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Bicycling is one of the many outdoor activities that people have turned to during the COVID-19 pandemic for fun, exercise and transportation. In response, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine recently released a video that outlines how to ride your bike safely during this time.

“We really just wanted to provide some helpful information to people who maybe want to go biking right now and aren’t sure if it’s safe or the best thing to do,” said Mariah Healey, mission advancement director at Bicycle Coalition of Maine. “We think it’s just an awesome way to get exercise.”

To create the video, the coalition worked with Frame Media Strategies, a Portland-based company that recruited bicyclists throughout the state to shoot the footage independently on their smartphones. The media company sent these participants instructions, then edited their footage together into a cohesive story that is both upbeat and educational.

The video instructs that during a pandemic, bicyclists should:

— Wear a face covering

— Carry everything you need, including snacks, water, a tire repair kit and sanitary items

— Wash your hands before and after your ride

— Ride solo or with people in your own household

— Save hard workouts for a bike trainer at home

— Avoid stopping

— Reduce risks by riding at off peak times when you won’t run into many other riders or cars

In regards to wearing a face covering while riding, Erik daSilva, safety education manager at the coalition, said that it may not be necessary all of the time. However, it’s an important safety measure when biking in an area where you’re passing other people at close proximity, such as downtowns or busy trails.

“We are erring on the side of safety,” daSilva said. “What I’d suggest to someone is to have a [face] mask ready if you’re in a vicinity where you expect to meet other people. That could be a trail intersection or road intersection or if you’re being overtaken by [another rider] or are passing someone in the opposite direction.”

Some masks are designed to be easily pulled down and up, daSilva said, and those are especially useful for bicycling.

The coalition also educates the public about everyday bike safety guidelines and laws, which include wearing your helmet correctly, wearing bright clothing and obeying the rules of the road.

“The number one mistake people do to create a crash is riding on the wrong side of the road — and this is a statistic that is true across the country,” daSilva said. “When on a bike, statute says you’re actually governed by motor vehicle law, so you need to drive a bike like you would other [road] vehicles.”

To learn more about biking safety, etiquette and laws in Maine, visit the At Home Education page and Biking Basics page at bikemaine.org.

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Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.