Cyclists urged to stay far apart or stay at home
Cycling body suggests 20m guideline, medical experts believe 1m gap is enough
One of the first instructions Ting Chun told the 15 amateur cyclists he oversees at a local club was to train indoors or ride unaccompanied after the Government's circuit breaker measures took effect last week.
To the 35-year-old supply chain executive's dismay, he noticed other cyclist enthusiasts here were not taking the new rules seriously. While out on his solo outings, Ting saw big groups of cyclists travelling together.
This trend led the Singapore Cycling Federation (SCF), after feedback from Sport Singapore and other government agencies, to issue a reminder on Facebook on Saturday that "all cycling if done outdoors must be carried out either alone or with individuals of the same household", urging an allowance of 20m space "between different household units of cyclists, even at traffic lights".
The SCF told The Straits Times yesterday it strongly recommends all cyclists stay home as far as possible during this period and the 20m gap was a guideline based on a recent white paper from Holland's Eindhoven University of Technology and Belgium's KU Leuven on the coronavirus' spread.
The scientists noted those walking behind someone should keep 4m to 5m away instead, while those running or cycling slowly behind someone doing the same should keep at least 10m away. This distance extends to 20m if one is cycling at high speeds.
This is because of the air currents produced by the person in the front, also known as a slipstream.
The SCF also noted that as the 20m is just a guideline from an academic paper and not a mandatory rule of law, it would not be correct to speak of enforcing it.
Dr Piotr Chlebicki, a Mount Alvernia Hospital infectious disease specialist who also cycles recreationally, was surprised by the 20m advisory.
He said: "It is safer for cyclists to be apart for 1m because they are moving faster than pedestrians in an open space.
"The discussion about micro-droplets in slipstreams is based on laboratory settings and is not transferable to real life.
"Bike or no bike, to avoid meeting people other than those you live with... is the main rule of social distancing to break the chain of contagion and stop the virus spreading."
Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases specialist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, was also sceptical of the effectiveness of the 20m spacing and said a 1m gap was sufficient.
But with the public still forming crowds and disregarding the 1m social distancing rule, he said, the authorities may have to implement stricter measures.
If the current situation continues, Ting believes it is "just a matter of time cycling is totally banned during this period".