If you can’t even shake someone’s hand and you’re supposed to keep a solid 3-foot social distance as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, jumping on a shared electric scooter can’t possibly be a safe activity. Right? But with the proper precautions, it should be less risky to partake in the sharing economy.
Dr. Daniel Berliner, a physician at PlushCare, wrote in an email to Mashable that it’s risky to touch anything used by more than one person, but noted that “disinfectant cleaning with Clorox-type wipes must become the standard procedure prior to use of these items and devices.”
So, while you should probably avoid regularly renting an e-scooter at the moment, going for an occasional ride isn’t the worst thing you could do.
“If one must share these vehicles, wiping them down prior to use and washing one’s hands and using hand sanitizers after such use are the minimum one must do to reduce this disease’s risk,” Berliner said. “This may not eliminate the threat of becoming infected, but should decrease the risk.”
As for those fleets of bicycles and e-scooters available for rent through apps like Lime, Lyft, and Uber’s Jump, it’s all about keeping the vehicles and your hands clean.
“We have increased the frequency of cleaning, and we are disinfecting all JUMP e-bikes and scooters coming in and out of the warehouses. Staff responsible for handling JUMP vehicles are wearing gloves and washing their hands often,” a Jump spokesperson explained.
But it’s not all about the companies. You should certainly wash your hands after riding a bike or scooter, but also consider wiping down the vehicle at frequent touchpoints (like the handles). Jump even asks riders to consider wearing gloves while riding. And if you’re sick, please don’t ride.
Lyft operates bike- and scooter-shares, like Bay Wheels in the San Francisco area and CitiBike in New York City. The company says it’s disinfecting its fleets of two-wheelers every time they are brought into a depot. That means handlebars, seats, brakes, bells, shifters, and seat clamps all get wiped down.
For ride-sharing through Uber and Lyft, it’s really on the drivers to thoroughly clean their interiors to keep cars coronavirus-free. The same goes for car-sharing services like Turo or Getaround. If you rent a car, give it a good cleaning even if the company claims it’s already been disinfected.
Greg Kopf, from online car site CARiD.com, shared detailed cleaning instructions for drivers. His first suggested step: vacuuming.
Then, it’s time to get out the cleaning products. Any of these from the Environmental Protection Agency will effectively fight against the coronavirus. But so will plain soap and water.
“It may be tempting to smear hand sanitizer on your dash or seats out of convenience and their anti-bacterial properties, but alcohol-based products like that are not good for car interiors,” Kopf wrote in an email.
For ride-share drivers, he suggests focusing on “cleaning door handles, cup holders, seat belts and anything else passengers touch.” And drivers don’t forget to clean the keys/fob, steering wheel, switchgear, shifter, center console, and dashboard.
Still, the best advice remains: Wash your hands…before and after you ride.