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Trailheads closed on both coasts as Canadians flaunt Social Distancing orders

Mountain bikers and trail users flock to parks during COVD-19 pandemic

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With trailhead parking lots packed and riders congregating at parks and trailheads, this past weekend looked more like a long weekend than a pandemic. Unseasonably good weather on Canada’s west coast undoubtedly contributed to the problem, but many visitors seemed only minorly concerned with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Park officials in B.C. and Halifax took note, and have closed park facilities in Squamish, North and West Vancouver and, on the other side of the country, in Halifax.

“We are seeing some unsettling images in our corridor in regards to the lack of social distancing and measures to flatten the curve of COVID-19” posted Squamish RCMP.

Several of the parks that have been closed are popular among mountain bikers. These include Cypress and Seymour road, which were closed first, and the Fromme parking lot that was closed Sunday. At Fromme, Sunday’s crowd persisted despite warnings requesting trail users to change their behaviour.

Problems Coast to Coast

On the other side of the country, Nova Scotia has declared a provincial state of emergency, with Halifax closing all parks, beaches and fields.

“Over the weekend I saw and heard of far too many incidents of people gathering, blatantly disregarding the social and physical distance rules of staying six feet or two meters apart,” said N.S. Premier Stephen McNeil. “We are dealing with a deadly virus and this behaviour is unacceptable.”

Trail Associations call for better riding practices

It’s not just mountain bikers, to be clear. Hikers and trail runners crowded North Shore mountains and the Squamish Chief.

Those closures weren’t the only areas where there was a blatant disregard for social distancing measures. Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association’s (SORCA) posted request for safer riding practices was re-posted by trail associations all around the west coast and onto Vancouver Island.

While there are currently no hard restrictions on riding bikes outside, Canadians are being asked to be much more restrained in their riding. Bicycles remain a vital mode of transportation during this pandemic. Limiting riding time to what is necessary, avoiding crowds, riding safe, riding solo, and riding near home are all crucial to helping contain the spread of COVID-19.