Protection against the risk of COVID-19 on carpool bikes
AsianScientist (February 22, 2022) – Affordable plastic barriers could help block viral exposure between motorcycle taxi drivers, reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 while providing an economic lifeline for drivers amid the pandemic. This finding from a Bangladesh-UK research team was published in Fluid Physics.
Ride-sharing motorcycle taxis are a crucial mode of transport and a source of income in several Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many drivers off the roads for months to contain the viral spread.
Depending on the speed of the motorcycle and the direction of the wind, both passengers and drivers could inhale virus particles emitted by coughing and carried by the airflow. Some riders have started installing their own plastic shields on their bikes to help protect passengers. However, scientific evidence of the impact was lacking, so many governments did not encourage the practice.
To test the measure, researchers from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and the University of Leeds in the UK analyzed the risk of viral exposure on carpool bikes. They used computer simulations to measure ambient airflow and particle distribution. This allowed the team to track the virus-containing droplets emitted as the bike travels at different speeds.
The data revealed that placing a plastic shield between passengers can physically prevent virus particles from settling on the passenger. Additionally, it changes airflow patterns, keeping droplets away and reducing overall viral exposure. While some droplets could still land on helmets or clothing, the plastic barriers reduced the risk of inhaling droplets to help protect against COVID-19 infection.
The study is part of a larger project examining COVID-19 risk trade-offs for various modes of transportation. With these findings, the team hopes countries can implement better evidence-based measures to allow people to travel and work safely.
“Given the immense economic, political and social pressure for motorcycle taxis to continue during COVID-19 and other similar epidemics and pandemics, the results of this study suggest that a shield be installed between the driver and the passenger,” the authors conclude.
The article can be found at: Hetherington et al. (2021) Analysis of the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for a ride-sharing motorcycle taxi.
Source: Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.