25 Jan, 2021 Last updated: 09 Mar, 2021

Make the most of your daily commute to work in COVID-normal with these tips for cycling and walking while staying physically distant

Author: VicHealth works with health promotion experts to create a Victoria where everyone can enjoy better health and wellbeing.

Any coronavirus information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was first published (25 January 2021). For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus restrictions, please visit the source: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au

With summer upon us and Victorians beginning to return to their workplaces in COVID-normal, now’s a great time to think about commuting to work in different ways.

In this article we look at:

  • Easy tips and resources which can help you get back on the bike
  • Etiquette when walking and riding on shared paths

Be Healthy was created by VicHealth to provide helpful tips and advice on how you and your family can stay healthy. You can read more Be Healthy articles here.

As the saying goes,  you never forget how to ride a bike. So now is a great time to break out your wheels and helmet again if you’re heading back to the office.

With people less likely to use public transport as part of their daily commute during the pandemic, there are some simple and easy ways to travel while also being physically active.  

 

Top four tips for cycling and walking while physical distancing

So you’re all set to head out for a walk or hop on your bike for a cycle, but what else do you need to know?

Here are some handy tips on how to commute by foot or pedal, while staying COVIDSafe.

1. Get back in the saddle with Bicycle Victoria

Woman walking with her bike

If you’ve had a break from riding your bike, or if you’re a beginner, now is a good time to check you have everything you need and it’s still in good working order before you head out.

Bicycle Network Victoria’s ‘Pedal to a better normal’ page has a range of tips and resources that can help get you riding, including:

  • How to plan a bike route
  • Choosing the right bike for you
  • How to lock up your bike
  • What lights should you use on a bike
  • How to ride in the city and other busy areas

Tina McCarthy, one of VicHealth’s This Girl Can – Victoria ambassadors, who also runs the cycling group Wheel Women, has some great advice for those wanting to get on their bike.

 

2.  Pick your time and place

Friends exercising together on shared path

Many of us may still feel a little uneasy about being in large crowds of people, so if you’re walking or riding to work it’s important to pick a route and time which isn’t too crowded for you.

“Now is the perfect time to experience the joy of discovering local streets. You’re guaranteed to notice things at walking pace you have never noticed previously,” said Ben Rossiter, CEO of Victoria Walks.

If your workplace is offering flexible hours, this can help you avoid busy times on roads or bike paths should you choose to walk or ride to work. 
 

3. Be predictable on shared paths

Woman riding on shared path

Whether you’re riding a bike or on foot it’s important to be predictable and considerate of others when on shared paths.

“Bike riders must legally keep left and give way to walkers on shared paths, while walkers can walk together,” said Ben.

“If a bike rider rings a bell (hopefully from a distance so it doesn’t startle), give a little wave to let them know you have heard.”

“Be predictable rather than making sudden movements and keep dogs and children close by you.”

Tina said the same goes for cycling: “Being predictable is essential, it helps people understand what you are doing.”

“Use your bell intermittently, not incessantly. Call out ‘passing’ when going past walkers from behind, smile and be friendly, not annoyed if they don’t know what to do when you pass,” said Tina.

Craig Richards, CEO of Bicycle Network Victoria, added that cycling at a considerate speed is also important: “The best advice on a busy shared path is not to ride faster than a human can run. Just be patient – you’re not riding in the Tour de France,” said Craig.
 

4. Be kind and considerate

Woman riding a bike on shared path

With offices now allowing staff to return, lots of people are taking the opportunity to use footpaths, bike paths and roads to commute, so it’s important to be considerate of other pedestrians and road users.

Ben points out the importance of looking out for others who need extra consideration.

“Be aware of older walkers or people with disabilities who might be unsteady on their feet – give them room and get off the footpath if necessary so they aren’t forced onto the road or uneven surfaces,” said Ben.

Tina hopes for more education around sharing paths and recreation spaces.

“We share the spaces we have available…be kind, be patient, be friendly!” she said.

So if you're walking or cycling to get to work, looking out for others, keeping your distance and being friendly will make it more enjoyable for you and everyone around you.

 

Now you’re all set! Getting back on your bike or out walking during the coronavirus pandemic is a great way to form healthy, long-lasting habits.

 

For more VicHealth articles on how to look after your health in 2021, check out: