Bike riders take note: Masks now required outdoors when close to others

Bike riders take note: Masks now required outdoors when close to others

Solid masking behaviors at a bike ride last month.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’re in a strange phase of this pandemic: Infections and deaths are going up while many peoples’ familiarity with the virus and eagerness for normalcy is causing them to let their guard down.

This is definitely true with the local bike scene.

After all but shutting down in-person rides and events for the past few months, things are coming back to life. People are hosting group rides again and I’ve seen an uptick in informal group training rides with people rolling along in the traditional shoulder-to-shoulder paceline style — with no masks in sight.

As we all try to make the best decisions for our own health and the health of others, I want to make everyone is aware that as of yesterday (7/15), the Oregon Health Authority issued new guidance (PDF) about the use of masks. Here’s the part about being outdoors:

This guidance applies statewide to: The general public when outdoors, when at least six (6) feet of distance cannot be maintained between others outside of an individual’s household.

But there’s also this part that could apply to bicycling:

“Customers and visitors of businesses and of indoor and outdoor spaces open to the public are required to: Wear a mask, face shield, or face covering unless the individual is under 12 years of age, except as follows…

Masks, face shields or face coverings are not required when at an outdoor space open to the public and engaged in an activity that makes wearing a mask, face shield or face covering not feasible, such as strenuous physical exercise… if at least six (6) feet of distance is maintained from others.”


(Goofy gif of my masking technique with a Biciclista US Laser Mask.)

Personally, the recent infection data and this new guidance has caused me to be even more vigilant about mask-wearing while riding.

When I’m in the city and/or in residential neighborhoods I always wear a mask. Even though I can ride in the middle of a street far away from any people, I never know when someone might cross my path like a driver with their window down, or someone crossing or walking nearby. As I get into more rural areas, I keep my mask at the ready.

For more rigorous “training” rides that get me into suburban/rural areas, I’ve finally figured out a new system that works well. I use an ear-loop mask with a minimalist design (I use and can recommend the “Laser Mask” from Portland-based Biciclista US) and I put it on under my helmet straps. This allows me to easily pull the mask down when I don’t need it. The cool fabric and minimal design of my mask makes it hardly noticeable when not in use.

Riding on the Marine Drive bike path is a great example of using this system. I can see far ahead and it’s wide open, so I don’t wear the mask the whole time. As I see someone approach, I lift the mask up until I’m alone again.

As for fogging up glasses, I’m still working to perfect that. It happens much less in warmer temps because the outside air is closer in temperature to my breath. I also find a bendable nose piece keeps my breathe from getting onto lenses.

How have you been doing with the mask issue?

It’s definitely not awesome to wear one while biking, especially in this heat! But we’ve got to beat this virus and right now wearing a mask is our best weapon.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and
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