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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Red Bikes Are Back

red bike
Tana Weingartner

Cincinnati Red Bike is back in business after being shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and city Health Commissioner Melba Moore Thursday rescinded the restrictions on Red Bike and electric scooters in the city.

"We were concerned for many weeks about the common area spaces, specifically the handlebars," Cranley said. "In recent days and weeks, the CDC has suggested that that is far less likely to cause the disease than closed ventilation systems indoors. Doesn't mean it's not a risk, but it's a lot less of a risk than we thought when we originally put this order in place."

Red Bike Executive Director Jason Barron said they've been working on a safety plan for restarting service. He said that involves a two-pronged approach to cleaning and disinfecting bike and stations.

"First, a physical coating will be applied to the touch points of the bikes and stations that destroys viruses and bacteria and lasts for several months," Barron said in a statement. "Second, every bike and station will be cleaned and disinfected using an EPA-approved disinfectant every time it is serviced by the Red Bike team.  All team members will wear masks and gloves when in the field or interacting with equipment. Red Bike has also implemented comprehensive cleaning procedures and social distancing at the Red Bike Shop."

Red Bike is also asking riders to take measures to protect themselves. That includes washing hands or using hand sanitizer before and after riding. They're also encouraged to wear face coverings and to use personal disinfectants. Riders should follow social distancing guidelines and avoid biking in large groups.

Red Bike is also launching the "Bike It Forward" initiative. It will give free monthly "thank you" memberships to health care workers and first responders. Red Bike is also offering free advertising space on bikes and station kiosks to local restaurants and bars to promote their businesses.

"We’ve all been cooped up," Barron said. "We are excited to reopen Red Bike and help people get outside and get some much-needed exercise and stress relief with a good long bike ride in the sun."

Red Bike also received 100 new e-bikes this week. It will be deploying them in the next few weeks, bringing the total number of those bikes to 200.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.