The Chainlink

This has been a challenging time for us. The Chainlink loves group rides, getting out on the bike, hanging with friends. During a pandemic, that can be terribly tricky. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate getting an event approved:

1. Mask requirements - have your riders wear masks on your rides. Say it in the event description.

2. Social distancing - encourage keeping safe distance from one another to avoid spray and spread.

3. Limit the numbers* - put a cap on the number of people and/or make a plan to split the ride into safer, smaller groups. If this is impossible and you expect hundreds, is this a good idea to hold a ride?

We realize this feels like a pain but we want everyone in #bikeChi to come out of the pandemic safe and healthy. Nothing would be more terrible than one of our friends/family winding up with long-term heart and/or lung damage from this terrible virus. 

If you post your event as a forum post to get around the rules, it will be deleted. 

Stay healthy! Wear a mask!
Much Love,

The Chainlink

*How many is "safe"? Well, there's going to be risk any time you are riding with people outside your household. What will be approved? The recommendations I am hearing is no more than ten together but with careful distance. I will be willing to work with you on this point. I have made exceptions for peace and protest rides because protest and voting are activities that are necessary. I have also asked that language be added for social distancing and masks and organizers have added it with no question. 

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I too questioned the wisdom of promoting a Critical Mass Ride now!

I think requiring a mention of masks and social distancing for an event to be approved is a reasonable policy. As for whether it's OK to promote large group rides during the pandemic, my sense is that these events aren't a safety hazard, as long as the vast majority of riders are masked, and people keep their distance from each other when they're not riding.

I'm basing that on the fact that this year's Black Lives Matters protests, where most people wore masks, haven't been traced to any outbreaks. Large group rides like Critical Mass, or the several recent bike events drawing hundreds of participants in Black communities on Chicago's South and West sides, involve more distancing and less hanging out in the same air space as the BLM rallies and marches.

But I'm going to try to check in with some infectious disease specialists on this subject in the near future to get their expert opinions.

Here's where some of the concern stems from - when you where a mask, you are protecting others. If someone is around you that is not wearing a mask, you are not really that protected. It is ideal to think we are all safe in the open air but many super-spreader events happened in the open air. 

The second reason for this policy is that many pictures from recent rides, during the times of covid, feature many people without masks. See point #1 - if you wear a mask, you are protecting others. If you are around people without masks, you are not as protected as you hope to be. 

If those people are not wearing a mask and are talking, breathing with their mouths open, etc. you are at higher risk. When you have larger crowds, social distancing is also a concern. 

And the quarantine fatigue people are experiencing has recently become an issue - people who've been following the rules are starting to give up. Some of it is thinking they are safe because they haven't gotten sick, some of it is that they are tired of wearing masks and social distancing. 

And before Critical Mass sets off, yes, people are congregating in close proximity and without masks as has been documented by the photos taken of the events. Given the life-threatening nature of Covid, I don't feel comfortable recommending rides that aren't taking the necessary precautions. Also, is it worth it doing a Critical Mass? Is it worth the risk?

Maintain a minimum of six feet of distance when riding around others.

Do not go for group rides with people who live outside of your household. Only ride with people you are already staying at home with and, when passing someone else on the road or trail, leave as much space as you can to ensure you are adhering to social distancing best practices. 

Bicycling Magazine:

Is it safe to ride outside?
Yes, and riding alone is still the best way to reduce your risk and keep others safe. When people congregate together and someone sneezes or coughs, droplets get onto objects that people touch, and then people touch their face, Nieman explains. The best plan for riding right now is to go out, ride solo or with a small group of trusted people, enjoy the outdoors in open areas, and try timing your rides for when you know your route will be less crowded.


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