The relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in England today means that groups of up to six people are allowed to meet outside. It also sees the return of organised sport, with clubs affiliated to British Cycling able to put on club rides or recreational programmes for up to 15 participants, although advice is to treat that as “a limit, not a target.”
In its updated coronavirus guidance, British Cycling says that from today “affiliated Club and recreation programme rides (HSBC UK Breeze, Guided Rides and Ride Social) will be able to take place in groups of up to 15.
“These rides will be subject to a series of Covid mitigation measures, including: test and trace protocols, one metre social distancing while riding, two metre social distancing while not riding, and guidance covering hygiene, equipment sharing and self-sufficiency,” it continues, highlighting that further details can be found in it’s the Way Forward document, published last year.
“Clubs and groups which do not feel confident or comfortable riding in groups of 15 at this stage are permitted and encouraged to set a lower limit which is appropriate for their own circumstances", British Cycling says, pointing out that “15 is a limit, not a target.
“While we know that group riding presents a very low risk of transmission (due to it taking place outdoors, with very limited face-to-face contact), we must remain mindful of the wider public’s understandable concerns around Covid-19 and ensure that all clubs and groups respect and adhere to the relevant Covid-secure guidance for safe delivery,” it adds.
“Informal group rides – such as groups of friends meeting to ride together – will continue to be subject to the Rule of Six at this time, along with all other general Government guidance on social distancing and interaction.”
British Cycling also says that under the current government roadmap to ease restrictions, it will not be until 17 May at the earliest that recreational group and club riding with no limits on numbers will be permitted, while the return of all activity will happen no earlier than 21 June.
Cycling UK has also highlighted to member and affiliate groups that the maximum group size now permitted following confirmation from Sport England that group cycle rides fall under the organised sport and activity exemption should not be treated as a “target.”
On its website, the national cycling charity says that its “general advice to clubs pre-Covid was to restrict group rides to a maximum of 15 people, however currently we are advising that this should be treated as an absolute maximum for group rides, not a target number, and that people should exercise some discretion and common sense depending on where they are riding.”
Members of Ilkeston Cycling Club in Derbyshire wasted no time in getting out for a ride as soon as the restrictions eased – with three groups of six cyclists each setting off at one minute past midnight today.
In a recent post on its Facebook page, the club outlined to members the rides it plans to put on following the relaxation of the restrictions, initially limiting them to at most 10 cyclists plus two ride captains.
“We will prioritise shorter length rides first and for the first few weeks will aim to offer a number of ‘get back on your bike’ rides for those members who have not been able to ride regularly during lockdown,” the club said.
“These rides will be on less demanding routes and will be run at a nice steady pace.”
While members of cycling clubs will have been kept informed of the change in the rules, one reason for reluctance to immediately hold group rides comprising 15 cyclists may be that though they are permitted, the general public is unlikely to be aware of them – which with groups of cyclists on the road being more visible perhaps than people engaging in other organised outdoor sport could attract negative reaction, even if fully permitted now.
If you’re a member of a cycling club, we’d be interested to hear how it is approaching the return to activity – let us know in the comments below, or email us at info [at] road.cc.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.