7 Places to Bike When The Parks Are Closed

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Even though parks are opening back up, many are still closed down to help limit the spread of disease during this COVID-19 pandemic. Depending on where you live, that may make it hard—if not seemingly impossible—for you to get out and safely enjoy a bike ride. But the solution could actually be much simpler than you think—all it takes is a little creativity.

Mall Parking Lots

Even in bike-friendly cities, there are times when cyclists are anxious on the roads. Take a cruise through your local mall’s parking lot. With many retail stores closed temporarily, parking lots for malls, strip malls and shopping centers will have substantially less traffic. If your city is back in business, look for something similar at parking lots of unoccupied warehouses or abandoned buildings.

Country Roads

If getting your bike out into the woods is part of your decompression routine, then try cycling on country roads. While traffic will be minimal regardless, choose roads that are known cycling trails—most drivers will be local and know what to expect. Try to go on a group ride (while maintaining social distancing, of course) to make your bike more visible to traffic and wildlife. You can look on Facebook, Instagram, Meetup and through your nearby bike shops for local group ride listings.

Early Morning Road Ride

Avoid the dangers of traffic by going on an early morning road ride. The dawn and pre-dawn hours are a great time to find yourself alone on the roads, letting you go faster and farther. If waking up early is a big challenge, be sure to start slow. Spend a week or so just gently waking up a little earlier each time. You can ensure you get out of bed by putting your alarm clock across the room —or preferably in the kitchen next to a hot coffee pot. 

Private Bike Trails

While access to some bike trails in parks may be closed, there could be access in nearby neighborhoods. Research the bike trails in your city to see which segments might be privately owned or, at least, not owned by the government. If there are access points, use them. If not, reach out and see if you know anyone who’d be willing to share access with you. Enjoy getting up to speed on an uninterrupted trail.

Golf Courses

Many golf courses have cart paths that wind through bright green hills and trim, lush grass. It’s part of what makes golf such a relaxing game, and you can definitely tap into that on a bike. Call your local golf courses to see if they’re allowing public access to any parts. If you’re willing to buy a membership, just be sure it is at a place with a reputation for accommodating cyclists. Make sure that reputation comes from cyclists you know and not the club’s membership employees.

College Campuses

With colleges and universities shifting to online courses, campuses have fewer pedestrians than ever. Even without the increasing shift to online learning, early mornings and late evenings can be stark times on college campuses, making their intricate walkways, pathways and sidewalks open for riding. Private colleges may not allow the public open access to their grounds, but public colleges and universities are available; don’t forget your local community colleges, too.

In Your Living Room

Using an indoor bike trainer can keep you in race-day shape even in social isolation. This simple tool transforms your bike into a stationary bike whenever you want. There are many different types out there; it’s important you research and find the right one for you. If you’d still prefer riding outside, you can place your trainer on a flat surface near a tree or garden. If you want to change it up and head indoors, start a TV series that you can only watch on your bike to keep you motivated and entertained.

Even during the COVID-19 crisis, you can reap the benefits of cycling. Get creative and practice indoor cycling, or explore a few places near you and decide for yourself how they feel to ride in. Who knows—you might find you can transform any place into a biker’s paradise.