During this time of social distancing and COVID-19, outdoor activities like walking, running, hiking, and biking have become essential to our physical and mental health. The Susquehanna Greenway offers a host of opportunities to get outside. From unique neighborhoods and trails, to parks and state forests, the Greenway has plenty to entertain you during this time of social distancing.
As we explore the outdoors, however, it is important to know the rules of the road and basic trail etiquette.
Whether you’re a long-time outdoorsperson or a newfound enthusiast, the guide below is a helpful reminder to us all as we look to the outdoors for our wellness, inside and out.
What does 6 feet look like?
The easiest visual for gauging this distance is two people with their arms outstretched not touching. If you are feeling more creative, you can also use the width of an average sedan, the length of an adult bicycle, the width of a long park bench, or even two Golden Retrievers standing nose to tail.
In your neighborhood
There is nothing as easy as walking out your front door for a workout. Not only is your neighborhood accessible and removes the need for driving, but with more and more people hitting the parks and trails, it is the best location to get some exercise while still maintaining social distancing.
For our walkers, be sure to maintain the CDC’s recommendation for social distancing on all sides while using the sidewalks. If sidewalks are available on both sides of the street, walk on the side that has you opposing traffic. That way you will be able to see oncoming traffic and if you must leave the sidewalk to pass someone, you will have a good view of oncoming cars.
If you are biking on the other hand, be sure to ride on the road with the flow of traffic. Most neighborhoods do not allow bikes on sidewalks in order to reduce pedestrian and bike interactions. In order to make yourself more visible to drivers consider adding reflectors or lights to your bike, especially close to dark, and wear brightly colored clothing and a helmet.
For cyclist and drivers alike, be sure to allow 4-feet of distance between cars and cyclists when passing. This is not only a PA state law, but it is also courteous to cyclists and reduces their stress level, something we are all in need of right now.
On the trails
Community and regional trails offer a landscape of opportunities to blow off some steam or burn some calories. When utilizing these resources, it is important to be considerate of others, maintain social distancing, and if the trail is overcrowded consider going to another location or returning during a less busy time of the day.
When biking on trails, watch your speed, turn down your music, and pull completely off to the side if you need to stop. Before passing someone, announce yourself by saying “On your left!” or use a bike bell to alert trail users ahead of you.
When walking on trails, pass opposing walkers with 6 feet of distance between you. If walking with a family member, shift to a line when passing opposing walkers. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to pass a perpendicular line of people on the trail.
If you need to stop along a trail or just want to admire the scenery, step completely off to the side so as not to hold up traffic. Remember, any furry friends along for the walk must be kept on leashes.
At a park
For any park, guidelines in the previous section still apply.
Remember, at this time most state parks and forests remain open, however their facilities will be closed. This includes all visitor centers, restrooms, campgrounds, and cabins, so be sure to prepare accordingly before heading out on your adventure.
For local parks, avoid playground equipment for the time being, but do enjoy the open space and scenery. Please also check with your municipality to confirm that your park is open before you go.
One of the most important rules when enjoying the outdoors in any park, trail, or community is to Leave No Trace. Dispose of your trash properly and be sure to leave everything as you found it. It all boils down to being respectful of the places we love, so we can enjoy them for years to come.
Have fun! And remember as we navigate through this uncertain time to be friendly! Say hello or smile as you pass people. Even though we must maintain social distance, it’s always nice to see a friendly face.
The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership (SGP) is committed to building connections along the Susquehanna River and encouraging communities and individuals to engage with the many opportunities for outdoor recreation available along the Susquehanna Greenway. SGP serves as the Vice Chair of the Middle Susquehanna Active Transportation Committee.
About the author
Alana Jajko is the Director of Communications and Outreach for the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership. Her work is focused on promoting trails and communities within our vibrant and connected Susquehanna Greenway, so that people like you can enjoy opportunities to engage with the outdoors. Alana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.