Tuesday 24 March 2020

Cycling and Coronavirus

Due to the Coronavirus crisis, last week Ealing Cycling Campaign suspended its social rides. Yesterday (23 March) the Prime Minister announced further restrictions. The main requirement is to stay at home. You can cycle to shop for basic essentials, but only when you really need to. You can cycle to work – but only where this is absolutely necessary. You can cycle for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or to deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person. And finally, you are allowed to take one form of exercise a day, including cycling. In all cases, you must keep at least two metres away from other people. Cycle shops are considered an essential retail outlet and will remain open.

The new advice is in contrast to Italy, which banned recreational cycling on March 9, and Spain which prohibited it on March 14  - in part through fears that cycle-related injuries would add a further burden to over-stretched hospitals. The policy here is closer to that in the Netherlands where cycling is still allowed and cycle shops remain open.

In practice, it is easier to keep two metres away from other people by riding a bicycle on the road, than it is by walking along the pavement. There is a problem on narrow paths, such as the canal towpath, where it is not possible to stick to this rule, so cyclists should probably keep to the roads at this critical time. Fortunately, there are very few motor vehicles about.

Cycle shops reported booming business last weekend. If you're new to cycling or returning to it, London Cycling Campaign has some tips for cycling during the coronavirus crisis.

Cycling UK updated its guidance yesterday:

"It remains advisable for people to cycle for their health, fitness and well-being, but in line with our previous guidance, you should only do this alone or with members of your household unless any of them have reason to self-isolate.

Under no circumstance should you cycle or take part in any cycling activity in groups.

This is critical to stop the coronavirus disease spreading between households.

We are also advising that anyone who needs to travel to work if it’s absolutely necessary should consider cycling to avoid using public transport, where possible.

Cycling should also be considered as the best means of transport when essential shopping for food for medicines

The guidance for avoiding contamination remains unchanged, keeping at least two metres away from anyone else, regularly washing your hands and catching coughs and sneezes in tissues and throwing them away immediately. See further advice on the NHS website."