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The ‘Roadmap out of lockdown’ – what does it mean for cycling?

Boris Johnson sets out timeline to fully ease restrictions in England – but it could be subject to change

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday laying out the timeline for coronavirus restrictions to be gradually eased in England, with the aim of them being more or less fully lifted by 21 June, we take a look at what the government’s plans – the full text of which you can find here – means for cycling.

Current regulations state that you must stay at home, unless you have a reasonable excuse to leave it, including travelling to work that cannot be done there, or to undertake essential shopping – and for both of those, active travel, including cycling, is encouraged.

You can also leave home to undertake exercise, either on your own or with members of your household or support bubble, or alone with one other person who does not live with you as long as social distancing is observed. Guidance is that you should stay local, but there are no restrictions on how far, or for how long, you can ride.

> Cycling dos and don’ts in a time of pandemic – how to be a responsible cyclist

The government’s new roadmap outlines a four-step plan to try and get the country back to normal, but it is important to note that the dates are not set in stone, and none of Steps 2, 3 and 4 will come into effect until at least five weeks have elapsed since the start of the preceding one.

Indeed, it is entirely possible that in the weeks and months ahead some of the target dates may have to be pushed back – perhaps at local level, perhaps nationally – depending on factors such as rates of infection and the rollout of the vaccine programme.

Step 1 is due to begin on 8 March with the return of all children and students to schools and colleges. The existing rules on exercise outlined above will remain unaltered, but are extended to include “recreation” – although in practice, that will make little difference when it comes to cycling.

On 29 March, the government anticipates reintroducing the ‘Rule of 6’ to allow up to six people from different households to meet outdoors (larger groups from no more than two households will also be allowed), while maintaining social distancing, in line with fresh guidance to be issued closer to the time.

Outdoor sports facilities are also scheduled to be reopened on that same date, subject to social contact rules. The government specifically mentions examples of such facilities as including “tennis and basketball courts, and swimming pools”. 

We imagine that outdoor velodromes or closed road circuits and other cycling facilities would also fall under the type of venue allowed to reopen.

The government adds that “Formally organised outdoor sports – for adults and under 18s – can also restart and will not be subject to the gatherings limits, but should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies” – possibly paving the way for clubs to restart their group rides. 

British Cycling, which suspended all activities and events following the announcement last month of the third national lockdown in England, is yet to update the coronavirus guidance on its website, but we would expect it to do so nearer the time following consultation with the government and other bodies, as it has previously done when the regulations have changed. Cycling Time Trials has already confirmed that it will resume its Type A (open) and Type B (club) events in England on 29 March if there are no changes to the roadmap before that date.

Step 2, which will be no earlier than 12 April, includes the reopening of indoor leisure facilities including gyms, plus self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets that do not require indoor facilities to be shared with other households – so maybe start quietly planning that springtime cycling weekend away?

If all goes according to plan, subject to Rule of 6 and household mixing rules, you’ll also be able to sit outside a café with a coffee and slice of cake – currently restricted to takeaway only – or even grab a post-ride pint, with outdoor areas of pubs and bars set to reopen.

Step 3 is pencilled in for 17 May, and permits outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people as well as the reintroduction of organised indoor sport for adults, and the return of outdoor spectator sports events, subject to restrictions on numbers.

It will also see the lifting of the current ban on most international travel – although restrictions, whether imposed by the UK or destination countries, will clearly be in force.

Finally, Step 4 – which will come into effect at the earliest on 21 June – will, subject to review ahead of its implementation, remove most or all remaining restrictions, including those on social contact, business closures, and the size of gatherings for sports and other events.

As the government has said, the planned dates for easing of restrictions outlined above is not definitive, and given how the situation has evolved over the past year, it’s not difficult to see that timeline slipping, or the plans it has set out being revised – for example, with the introduction of some kind of certification to show that you have been vaccinated, an issue currently being explored.

Obviously, we’ll be revisiting this topic as and when each step comes into force, as well as when British Cycling issues updated guidance.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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mdavidford | 3 years ago


The ‘Roadmap out of lockdown’ – what does it mean for cycling?

Mostly that the roads are going to start getting even more choked with cars again.

ktache replied to mdavidford | 3 years ago

Especially because of the lack of any rise in fuel duty, 10th year, I believe.


Awavey replied to ktache | 3 years ago

I think it might be 11th now, the last actual raise was announced in the March 2010 budget

Mary Willoughby | 3 years ago

I like to catch a "local" train to a destination 30-50 mls away then cycle home.  I'm uncertain when that's permitted. It would seem that non-essential travel is permitted from Step 2 (12th April) as you'll need to travel to your self-catering holiday accommodation, however, the Government's guidance for Step 2 also says "Minimise travel" which remains in force until Step 3 (17th May). 

muhasib replied to Mary Willoughby | 3 years ago
1 like

Just make sure your start point is a garden centre as they are 'providing essential goods and services' - so any travel there shouldn't be an issue!

GMBasix replied to Mary Willoughby | 3 years ago

Mary Willoughby wrote:

I like to catch a "local" train to a destination 30-50 mls away then cycle home.  I'm uncertain when that's permitted. 

Essentially, it's already permitted.  If the reason for you leaving home is to take exercise, your chosen method of accessing that exercise is not pre/pro-scribed in the regulations, and it is serving that purpose.  As for the train:  you couldn't do that by car, because you would then have left a car 30-50 miles away.

You might be pushed onto the back foot to prove that your purpose is to take exercise, but a marked route on a map, phone or GPS would be indicative.

They (whoever 'They' is) might not approve of your decision, and it might not be the wisest thing you chose to do that day, but in essence you have it in law that you have a reasonable excuse to leave your home.  They (same 'They') might offer robust words of advice.  You should thank them for their thoughts which you will ponder as you take your exercise route home.

Have you thought of cycling 15-25 miles to the mid-way point of your intended route, then turning round and cycling home?  That would save you the train fare and the risk if mixing with a load of 'They's... you don't know where they've been (only that They haven't been prioritised for vaccines).

Mary Willoughby replied to GMBasix | 3 years ago
1 like

Thanks for the advice, I'll bear that in mind.  One of the reasons for using the train is that I live in the middle of a city and, frankly, get a bit bored of the same routes in & out - a train ride avoids that in one direction and offers greater scope for new rides.  I'll keep an eye open for the "Theys"; I've come across them before and "They" are usually be recognised by their uniform or hiviz jacket. 

David9694 | 3 years ago
1 like

how often can you go out for exercise per day, and when from?

GMBasix replied to David9694 | 3 years ago

David9694 wrote:

how often can you go out for exercise per day, and when from?

How often:
The current guidance for lockdown in Tier 4 (in England) is once a day.
The regulations [Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations, 2020; Schedule 3A, Part 1, paragraph 2c;] don't make provision for the enforcement of any limit (except the company you keep).  It is a reasonable excuse to leave your home to take exercise outside.  The only qualification to that is with whom you may exercise.

When from:
That's already in effect

j4m1eb | 3 years ago
1 like

You have the date wrong for the rule of six. It's from 29th March. Still good news. 

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