Cycling at a safe distance and a suggestion from a local resident (bottom of page)

What is a safe distance when running, biking and walking during COVID-19 times? It is further than the typical 1–2 meter as prescribed in different countries!

 

countries walking, biking and jogging are welcome activities in these times of COVID-19. However, it is important to note that you need to avoid each other’s slipstream when doing these activities. This comes out of the result of a study by the KU Leuven (Belgium) and TU Eindhoven (Netherlands). (1)(2)(3)(4)

The typical social distancing rule which many countries apply between 1–2 meters seems effective when you are standing still inside or even outside with low wind. But when you go for a walk, run or bike ride you better be more careful. When someone during a run breathes, sneezes or coughs, those particles stay behind in the air. The person running behind you in the so-called slip-stream goes through this cloud of droplets.

The researchers came to this conclusion by simulating the occurrence of saliva particles of persons during movement (walking and running) and this from different positions (next to each other, diagonally behind each other and directly behind each other). Normally this type of modelling is used to improve the performance level of athletes as staying in each other air-stream is very effective. But when looking at COVID-19 the recommendation is to stay out of the slipstream according to the research.

The results of the test are made visible in a number of animations and visuals. The cloud of droplets left behind by a person is clearly visible. “People who sneeze or cough spread droplets with a bigger force, but also people who just breathe will leave particles behind”. The red dots on the image represent the biggest particles. These create the highest chance of contamination but also fall down faster. “But when running through that cloud they still can land on your clothing” according to Professor Bert Blocken.

 

Out of the simulations, it appears that social distancing plays less of a role for 2 people in a low wind environment when running/walking next to each other. The droplets land behind the duo. When you are positioned diagonally behind each other the risk is also smaller to catch the droplets of the lead runner. The risk of contamination is the biggest when people are just behind each other, in each other’s slipstream.

On the basis of these results the scientist advises that for walking the distance of people moving in the same direction in 1 line should be at least 4–5 meter, for running and slow biking it should be 10 meters and for hard biking at least 20 meters. Also, when passing someone it is advised to already be in different lane at a considerable distance e.g. 20 meters for biking.

This is definitely information I will be taking into account and it also puts in perspective the closing of busy parks etc. Perhaps the better way is just running in the street, on your own or at least with sufficient distance. Stay safe…

And a connected post from a Seaford resident:

Hi Cycle Seahaven – as a cyclist, I know none of us like ‘rules’ being applied and people worked hard to earn permission to cycle on the seafront at Seaford. Do you think, during this Corona crisis, cyclists should (or could) be encouraged to cycle on the road? As they overtake pedestrians on the path, the 2m gap is breached – when they also say hello as they pass (an otherwise lovely thing to do) they are effectively sending vapour particles straight onto the person they’re greeting. Maybe I’m being overly cautious but if we’re going to stop the spread we might as well do our best. If cyclists were on the now nearly empty road instead,  distance would be maintained and everyone could enjoy the space. What do you think? Aiming to be constructive for the safety of the greater community. Thanks for accepting the intended spirit of the message (it’s not a moan)!! 🙂

4
Leave a Reply

avatar
4 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
8 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
MR DAVID SUTTONTony Rowswellsusan masiniDiana Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
David Sutton
Member

An interesting point, I was unable to verify the source documents for methodology or validity as they’re not in English. However the point of a wider droplet dispersal in a moving airstream makes obvious sense. As does llimiting those who may be affected by any such exposure. Cycling on the road if safe to do so makes sense up to the point where safety concerns override the above. Certainly within 30mph limits it makes for… Read more »

Tony Rowswell
Guest
Tony Rowswell

Thanks for that positive comment. It appears to be sound common sense. I have been adopting the “road” policy lately but I shall cut down on the “Hi there” from now on. A nod or wave will have to do.

susan masini
Guest
susan masini

Hi there, I’d use caution going by that “study” as it has been debunked. But worth staying clear of others in general https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/v74az9/the-viral-study-about-runners-spreading-coronavirus-is-not-actually-a-study.

Diana
Guest
Diana

Great idea. I am happy to do that.