This answer was written on Mar. 25; things can change quickly. By the time you read this answer, it may or may not still be correct.
- Bike sharing is probably safe and healthy, as long as you take certain hygiene and disinfection precautions, as explained in later sections.
- Don't ride when sick.
- Exercise, in moderation, may strengthen the immune system.
- Sun exposure may help you synthesize vitamin D. It's possible that this vitamin somewhat helps protect against COVID-19.
It's probably safe and healthy to use bike-sharing during the COVID-19 pandemic — as long as you take some simple precautions.
If you take these precautions, bike-sharing is probably safer than public transit during the pandemic. (Source.)
Please note: If you're sick, please don't use bike sharing. Please use your own car or bike. Or, better yet, please stay home. (Source.)
- After riding, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. (Source.)
- If you can't access soap or water, carry and use hand sanitizer instead.
You might have thought it unnecessary to disinfect handlebars, for three reasons.
- The CDC writes: "It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. But this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads."
- On stainless steel, coronavirus particles can survive for two days, but virus titers start to plummet after just four hours. (Source.)
- Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun seems to destroy coronaviruses. (Source.)
However, during the pandemic, various experts do recommend that you disinfect bike-share bike handlebars and brake levers. If a sick person used a bike right before you, they might have left their germs on the handlebars; disinfection can kill these germs. (Source.)
70% rubbing alcohol solution is probably a good disinfectant to use here.
- At home:
- Dampen a clean rag, or some paper towels, with 70% rubbing alcohol solution.
- Store the result an air-tight bag, so that the alcohol doesn't evaporate.
- Later, at the bike-share station:
- Dampen the handlebars and brake levers with the solution. Let them stay damp for at least 30 seconds.
In theory, alcohol probably shouldn't damage most rubber items. (Source.) But please see the comments on this post.
Disinfecting wipes containing benzalkonium chloride (e.g. Lysol wipes) are another option. Benzalkonium chloride may promote antibiotic resistance and is toxic to fish. If you do use Lysol wipes, wash your hands after use and before eating.
If there are shortages of disinfecting wipes or rubbing alcohol in your city: Please consider leaving these items for sick people who truly need them. Instead, please avoid touching your face, and wash your hands after riding.
Exercise may strengthen the immune system
The research literature suggests that exercise, if done in moderation, probably strengthens the immune system. (Source.) During a pandemic, experts recommend against exercising in crowded spaces, or beyond the point of exhaustion, or when feeling flu-like symptoms. (Source.)
Sun exposure may protect against COVID-19
When your skin is exposed to moderate amounts of sunlight, it may synthesize vitamin D. (Don't get sunburned; this increases your risk of skin cancer.) Getting enough vitamin D may reduce, but not eliminate, your risk of catching COVID-19. (Source: a MedCram video citing a BMJ meta-analysis. Please see also this BMJ press release and this post.) Regular outdoor exercise may help you to get more sun and to synthesize more vitamin D.
There are other ways to get vitamin D, such as from daily pills; but the details are beyond the scope of this post.
I'm not a doctor. This thread is for educational purposes only; it is not intended as a substitute for personalized advice from a doctor.