More residents are spending more time than ever at home, working remotely and helping their children keep up with at-home learning during the coronavirus outbreak.
As a result, there’s been a noticeable increase in the number of people walking and biking around the Golden Isles.
Biking is an easy way to get out of the house and get some exercise during these anxious times.
Georgia Bikes, a nonprofit that works to improve bicycling conditions and promote bicycling throughout the state, is offering resources for those looking to bike safely during this time.
Georgia Bikes received a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety that allows the nonprofit to offer bike safety programs and support local bike advocacy efforts around the state.
“We remain dedicated to that mission, so expanding our online resources seemed a natural way to continue fulfilling it,” said John Bennett, safety education programs manager for Georgia Bikes.
Bennett encourages using these resources before venturing out for exercise.
“Exercise is important for both physical and mental well-being,” he said.
“Going out for a bike ride is a healthy activity as long as it is done in a safe manner.”
Many Georgians depend on bikes for daily mobility, he said, including people who work in health care, grocery stores and other essential services.
“We want everyone to have access to credible information to keep themselves and their families safe, whether they are riding for transportation or recreation,” Bennett said.
These resources can help families prepare for outings on their bikes, said Patti Sistrunk, program manager for Georgia Safe Routes to School Resource Center.
“There are resources, materials and tips for all aspects of preparation — from making sure children have helmets that fit correctly, to checking that your bicycle is in great condition, to knowing the rules of the road,” she said. “Children under 16 must wear a helmet in Georgia. It’s the law. But it’s a good idea for everyone to wear helmets.”
It’s important for children to get physical activity, Sistrunk said, for at least an hour a day.
“And the weather has been mostly beautiful here in the Golden Isles area over the last few weeks,” she said. “Traffic counts are down. In many communities, that can make it safer for walking and bicycling.”
Glynn County offers numerous options for scenic, safe bike rides, including trails across Jekyll and St. Simons islands and in parts of Brunswick.
“The trail system on Jekyll Island allows plenty of space to ride while remaining spatially distant from others,” Bennett said.
“I’m also a fan of historic buildings, so I like biking in downtown Brunswick and in Jekyll’s historic district.”
Georgia Bikes is offering a webpage that provides links to webinars on bicycling and related topics, virtual rides and other online events. The website is georgiabikes.org/virtual.
“Until we can participate in group rides with people outside our households again, these events can help everyone stay connected with their communities,” Bennett said.
Sistrunk urged the community to use outdoor exercise as a way to relieve the stress many are feeling right now.
“Gyms are closed, and most people don’t have cardio equipment in their homes,” she said. “Taking a walk is something most anyone can do. And a one-mile walk only takes about 20 minutes. Exercise is an acceptable reason to leave our homes while we are following the shelter in place order.”