WA governor says bicycling, bike shops OK during COVID-19 shutdown

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It’s getting more difficult to keep track of what’s open and what’s closed in response to COVID-19 in Washington state, where a “Stay at Home” order has gone into effect.

Here’s the scorecard:

Bicycling is allowed (just maintain 6 feet social distance). Gov. Jay Inslee, himself a roadie, said in this week’s announcement that bicycling is OK. “If you feel like going for a walk, gardening or going for a bike ride, we consider that essential activity too for everyone’s physical and mental health. We all just need to practice social distancing of six feet to protect ourselves and others — everywhere, all the time.”

King County’s Sammamish River Trail; 2019 file photo

Bicycle shops that do repairs are considered essential businesses and remain open. They were placed in the category with auto, motorcycle, and motorized wheelchair and scooter repair services.

Parks/Trails

Update: While trails in King County are closed, they can still be used for essential transportation. See coronavirus updates (thanks to Barb Chamberlain of WSDOT Active Transportation Division for this update):

“If an individual is part of the essential workforce and needs to commute for work or needs to accomplish essential tasks by using the King County Parks regional trail network (i.e. grocery store, doctors appointment, etc.) they are allowed to do so. Individuals who use trails for these purposes should follow social distancing guidelines and our standard trail rules and etiquette.”

“Non-essential use of the RTS remains closed as part of the ongoing efforts to protect public health and curb transmission of COVID-19.”

State parks are closed for two weeks, starting March 25 and lasting indefinitely. That includes trails. Also closed are all facilities, including trails, managed by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Washington Department of Natural Resources through at least April 8.

In explaining the DNR closures, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said: “This was not an easy decision. We treasure our forests and trails and beaches as places of rejuvenation and refuge from the chaos of daily life. But, I cannot ignore the unfortunate reality of what we saw this weekend: crowded trails, people shoulder to shoulder, and large gatherings. This behavior undercuts the sacrifices that Washingtonians of all means and ability are making in order to adhere to social distancing.

For biking, the DNR closure affects all the trails on Tiger Mountain among many others. The state parks closure includes the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail.

All camping at state parks, as well as DNR and fish and wildlife areas, has been suspended until April 30.

Locally, King County has closed its parks, trail heads, trails, and playgrounds, although people can still use the trails. King County has suffered 100 deaths from coronavirus as of Wednesday; it’s the hardest hit county in the state.

The King County Parks website explains:

Updated guidelines as of Thursday, March 26: “We ask that everyone respect parks closures and refrain from using King County parks, including regional and backcountry trails. We are unable to physically block off all entrances to parks and trails. We appreciate our park users helping us slow the spread of this virus and their patience as we work through this challenging time. King County also urges visitors to not park illegally on roadways near parks and trails, or block park gates. (Supersedes the March 25 announcement: “While visitors will still be able to walk into parks and back country trails and walk and bike on the regional trail network, King County is asking all residents to do their part in stopping the spread of the virus and help save lives by abiding by these closures and all social distancing guidelines. King County also urges visitors to not park illegally on roadways near parks and trails, or block park gates.” )

Other city and county parks departments across the state have reacted variously to the governor’s “Stay at Home” order, that also encourages people to get some fresh air. Be prepared for closed restrooms or blocked trail head parking lots.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.bikingbis.com/2020/03/25/wa-governor-says-bicycling-bike-shops-ok-during-covid-19-shutdown/

1 comment

  1. Update on King County trails: They can be used for essential transportation. From their website as updated March 27, 2020:

    If an individual is part of the essential workforce and needs to commute for work or needs to accomplish essential tasks by using the King County Parks regional trail network (i.e. grocery store, doctors appointment, etc.) they are allowed to do so. Individuals who use trails for these purposes should follow social distancing guidelines and our standard trail rules and etiquette.
    Non-essential use of the RTS remains closed as part of the ongoing efforts to protect public health and curb transmission of COVID-19.

    Note that as their guidelines change they keep updating this same page so it can have different information than what I copied here. Check it to be sure: https://kingcountyparks.org/2020/03/25/king-county-parks-coronavirus-update/. As of Monday April 13 it still has this text.

    All trails owned and managed by WSDOT statewide remain open as essential transportation connections.

    Barb Chamberlain
    WSDOT Active Transportation Division

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