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Should Bicyclists Wear Masks in California?

A long, sweaty ride through the Bay Area is tough enough to endure, but should bicyclists wear masks as an addition to their gear during a worldwide pandemic?

Most people who exercise find a mask makes the efforts that much harder.  Breathing through any material can restrict oxygen and build heat quickly.  At the very least, it’s an added excuse to skip a bike ride and sit and chill on the couch.

More Bicycles and More Masks

One thing we do know is that masks and social distancing haven’t kept people from running through those bike gears.  In fact, stay at home orders have only sent more riders wheeling out.  The LA Times spoke to the CEO of PeopleForBikes and he reports bike sales in 2020 have skyrocketed 65% over last year’s figures.

So with experienced riders and novices along every street, who should be snapping on a mask?

There are various opinions about how effective masks are at preventing the spread of COVID-19.  Especially when it comes to outdoor activities. It’s one thing to be on a city MUNI with 30 other people, but what about when you’re sailing down the streets or on a short bike loop with your kids?

California Mask Expectations for Bicyclists

As of April 2022, state-wide mask requirements have been dropped for most situations, including any situations in which you are likely to be riding a bicycle. (Masks are still required statewide in: Public transit, stations, terminals, and airports; Healthcare; Emergency shelters; Jails and prisons; Homeless shelters; and Long-term care.) Of course, local restrictions can vary, so always make sure you know the mask requirements in your area.

Mass Bicycle Gatherings and Masks

With some rides, the choice is clear though. Many civil rights rallies have seen protestors taking to bikes to promote social justice. These are crowded situations where many riders feel masks are a wise decision.

The San Francisco Black Lives Matters Critical Mass Bike Protest in early June drew over 1000 riders.  Social Distancing was hard to maintain with such numbers on the streets, so most bicyclists wear masks  for protection.

The World Naked Bike Ride that streaks through San Francisco each year avoided the mask dilemma altogether.  They canceled the March event over concerns at the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

For other perspectives on the Bicycle Mask debate, feel free to check out CALBIKE recommendations.  The California Bike Coalition also has suggestions on types of masks and alternate materials that can make riding with one more comfortable.

The pandemic has changed how we approach outdoor activities, but there’s one thing everyone agrees on.  These activities are vital to keeping us mentally strong by helping us deal with the stresses that come with the new normal.  Biking can be one of the great joys of life and it’s probably worth whatever we have to endure for a brief time to be able to enjoy the freedom one can find on two wheels.

We are Bay Area Bicycle Law

Bay Area Bicycle Law has spent years advocating for the bicycle community.  We want safer rides for every cyclist.  In the event of an accident, we also want to help protect the victim.  We concentrate our practice solely on bicyclists who have been injured as a result of the carelessness and negligence of others. We’re dedicated and effective bicycle accident lawyers. If you were injured in a bicycle accident in or around San Francisco or anywhere around the bay area, contact us right away for a confidential free consultation and case review.