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Sunday Times names and shames cyclists racking up miles on Strava

Newspaper flags up rides being undertaken as part of monthly mileage challenge

The Sunday Times has today named and shamed UK cyclists who have been sharing details of their rides on Strava, including one who rode an average of 100 miles a day in the past week – even though government rules on outdoor exercise undertaken during the lockdown do not specify a time or distance limit.

In its article, the newspaper singles out a challenge on Strava for cyclists to ride 1,250 kilometres (777 miles) during a calendar month, and adds that 30,000 riders in the UK have signed up to it, 100 of them averaging rides of 50 miles each day between 1-9 April.

While it acknowledges that the government has set no limit on the amount of daily exercise that should be undertaken, it highlights recent comments by cabinet minister Michael Gove.

Speaking earlier this month to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, he said: “I would have thought for most people a walk of up to an hour, a run of 30 minutes or a cycle ride of between that, depending on their level of fitness, is appropriate.”

However, there is no such stipulation in the government’s own emergency legislation, and while British Cycling and Cycling UK have both urged people to ride responsibly and limit their activities to avoid a total ban on riding being brought in, the letter of the law suggests no-one riding 100 miles or so is actually breaking it.

The article highlighted one rider on Strava who had posted – or, in the newspaper’s words. “boasted of” riding 700 miles in seven days at the start of the month, and another who had logged a ride of 162 miles lasting almost eight hours from Manchester to Shropshire.

The newspaper did accept that many riders appeared to be riding loops close to where they live, and while it did not mention Zwift, the likelihood is that many people will be riding on that or other virtual platforms from home while the lockdown continues.

The article is published on a weekend when North Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan described cyclists as a “real worry” in the current environment, although she subsequently clarified that riders in the area were not doing anything wrong, but had been “causing a bit of tension” by riding through villages.

> Cyclists ‘a real worry’ says North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner – before conceding they aren't actually doing anything wrong

The newspaper’s article today was also accompanied by a photo of cyclists riding on Box Hill in Surrey – even though it is closed to all traffic, including bicycles, for the Easter weekend.

The photo is similar to one used by siter paper The Times last week, which due to foreshortening caused by the use of a telephoto lens and shooting the cyclists head-one appeared to give the impression they were riding as a group.

> Times latest newspaper accused of trying to shame cyclists with dodgy telephoto pics

In fact, as an image shot by one of the cyclists in that very group showed, the cyclists – who were riding either alone, or with another member of their household – were spaced well apart.<ul>

Simon joined road.cc 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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97 comments

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Derk Davies replied to Barraob1 | 4 years ago
2 likes

Our 2km limit is a bit of a pain but at least we're still allowed outside. I don't even have a loop within my 2km radius. The main problem as you say is that if your in a town/village everyone is out in that 2km so you end up seeing far more people than you usually would on a ride. Even if your living in a very rural area like me this happens. Only start from home would be more sensible. Re the English rules surely a "short" ride is subjective depending on what your used to. I don't consider a 4hr ride as a long ride. The first hour just gets you warmed up.

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barongreenback | 4 years ago
7 likes

The government guidelines are indeed vague.  But if you take a legal approach to the definition of 'minimising' time outdoors (which is in the guidelines) a reasonable person (i.e. the old fashioned man on the Clapham omnibus) is not going to think that a 5 hour ride in the sunshine is reasonable.  I saw a well thought out opinion in Cyclist the other day which felt that an hour was about ok.  There's a bit of an attitude in some quarters of looking to stretch the definition as much as possible - a bit of an 'I'm alright Jack' that simply pisses non-cyclists off and that fuels a possible fire that will get us completely locked down like France.

So if you're thinking about doing that 2 hour plus ride, then you're not really minimising your time are you?  In which case, why should anyone else follow the other guidelines when you can't?

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hawkinspeter replied to barongreenback | 4 years ago
2 likes

barongreenback wrote:

The government guidelines are indeed vague.  But if you take a legal approach to the definition of 'minimising' time outdoors (which is in the guidelines) a reasonable person (i.e. the old fashioned man on the Clapham omnibus) is not going to think that a 5 hour ride in the sunshine is reasonable.  I saw a well thought out opinion in Cyclist the other day which felt that an hour was about ok.  There's a bit of an attitude in some quarters of looking to stretch the definition as much as possible - a bit of an 'I'm alright Jack' that simply pisses non-cyclists off and that fuels a possible fire that will get us completely locked down like France.

So if you're thinking about doing that 2 hour plus ride, then you're not really minimising your time are you?  In which case, why should anyone else follow the other guidelines when you can't?

So, up to 2 hours is okay then?

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barongreenback replied to hawkinspeter | 4 years ago
2 likes

Thanks for deliberately trying to make me the arbiter of the rules rather than engaging with the point  1

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hawkinspeter replied to barongreenback | 4 years ago
4 likes

barongreenback wrote:

Thanks for deliberately trying to make me the arbiter of the rules rather than engaging with the point  1

My bad - you just sounded authoritative.

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mdavidford replied to barongreenback | 4 years ago
4 likes

But that's an bit of a misapplication of the 'Clapham omnibus test', which assumes that the person in question is apprised of all the relevant facts of the case, including the intention of the law in question.

The problem is the government has made no effort to communicate why they've issued the guidelines they have, so people have just been left to guess at what falls within the spirit of them. So some people are going to guess that going much beyond the end of your street is irresponsible, because your more or less guaranteed to get mown down by an innocent motorist the moment you do, while others will think that doing a century is fine because it doesn't seem to them to be presenting a significant danger to themselves or other people.

As far as I can make out, the twin imperatives of the current rules are to

a) avoid transmission of the virus

b) avoid adding strain to critical services

The measure of what's reasonable should therefore be taking reasonable care to

1) avoid close / sustained proximity to people outside of your household group (so no group riding or coffee stops, and don't put yourself in a position where you might require public transport or a lift home if something went wrong)

2) avoid behaviour that presents a meaningful risk of requiring assistance from emergency services (don't do more than you're capable of, don't push it on descents or ride technical trails hard, etc.)

In light of that, absolute times or distances seem irrelevant - it's perfectly possible to ride a six hour century while respecting the intention of the law, provided (i) that's within your capabilities, (ii) you're avoiding other people while doing it, and (iii) you're sticking to relatively local loops or are equipped to be self-sufficient in the event of a problem.

As I say, though, everyone, including me, is surmising in the dark, because the government can't be bothered to explain itself properly.

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BetterNever replied to barongreenback | 4 years ago
1 like

barongreenback wrote:

So if you're thinking about doing that 2 hour plus ride, then you're not really minimising your time are you?  In which case, why should anyone else follow the other guidelines when you can't?

Amen. I was a little suprised at this article and the comments as I thought the guidance was one hour per day max, so I can understand why people think cyclists going out for multi-hour rides are taking the piss. As it turns out, the guidance and the law behind it is suitably vague. But then they've been made on the fly so how people expect them to be perfect, I don't know.

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 4 years ago
14 likes

I was standing in the sun in a queue outside a shop yesterday in a usually busy part of London and I kept hearing one of my favourite sounds, not usually heard above the traffic. Now in the absence of endless cars, vans, motorbikes i could hear it distinctly before I could see the source. Not the sound of birds singing or children laughing but the whir of a well tuned road bike. 

Again there were so many people cycling yesterday. And all types; families, oldies, women, the not so trim, fold up bikes, Teenagers . . . . Why isn't that reported on by The Times? 

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Rik Mayals unde... replied to BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 4 years ago
3 likes

I was painting the outside of my house on Sunday, I kept turning round on the ladders to see the bikes going past. I could hear them coming, something I have never heard before. It was a joy to hear the clicking of well maintained gears, quality freehubs etc. 

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Sriracha | 4 years ago
16 likes

From the article's photo caption:
"Cyclists enjoying ... "
That's their problem with cyclists right there.

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CXR94Di2 | 4 years ago
4 likes

When my parts turn up this week for my tourer, I shall be going for longer rides.  I can carry the extra food and fluid to ride without interacting with others.

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jonba | 4 years ago
1 like

That photo in the times - was it taken over the weekend? 

If it was then that's a journey that could have been avoided. If it wasn't then I feel for the riders who are probably going to be recognized. 

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crazy-legs replied to jonba | 4 years ago
9 likes

People work at weekends too you know.

There was a similar "discussion" on a local village forum page the other day, complaints about "all these cyclists" (none of them actually doing anything wrong, they were just existing) and i pointed out that no-one is able to tell if it's someone going to or from work, if it's a doctor on their way home from shift, of its someone 2 miles from home or if it's a rider who's midway through a 6hr ride...

Lycra is meaningless - many cyclists wear Lycra when they commute to work.

This really is the thin end of the wedge, this sort of "naming and shaming" needs to be condemned outright. We're not in North Korea or some Gestapo fantasy land (yet). The Times admitted (in a roundabout way) that the riders weren't doing anything wrong. But how long until some driver, enraged by these clickbait articles, decides to "teach a lesson" to some cyclist and ends up killing a nurse or doctor on their way to/from work?! 

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gibbon | 4 years ago
12 likes

.

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eburtthebike replied to gibbon | 4 years ago
8 likes

and the right wing media, desperately blaming everyone except those really to blame: the government, who did nothing for months.

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Vlad the Impailer | 4 years ago
19 likes

\the Times should fact check their information before going to print.

 

The Bloke in 3rd place on the Strava Distance Challenge has actually been riding on Zwift for ther last 26 days and hasnt been on the road once.

https://www.strava.com/athletes/9633064

The Editor should write a retraction and appologise for being Xenophopic towards cyclists.    That or Talk more crap from Jeremy Clartkson then we can have a laugh.

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Spangly Shiny replied to Vlad the Impailer | 4 years ago
0 likes

Vlad, is UKRC forum still going? I lost contact when Martin updated the site but would like to get back on board.

CTGK

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Vlad the Impailer replied to Spangly Shiny | 4 years ago
0 likes

The website is located here....

http://www.ukrc.club/

 

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Spangly Shiny replied to Vlad the Impailer | 4 years ago
0 likes

Thanx, all signed up again.

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Barraob1 replied to Vlad the Impailer | 4 years ago
0 likes

Send them a solicitor's letter, I'd would be looking for more than a retraction.

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mdavidford | 4 years ago
17 likes

There is an error in this article. It states that the Times has 'named and shamed' people. I think perhaps you meant to write 'named and vilified' - easy mistake to make...

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Podc | 4 years ago
16 likes

The world's response to the pandemic is in stark contrast to it's response to air pollution and climate change.

We should be taking similar degrees of action to mitigate the unnecessary air pollution including addressing the contribution from excessive car use. It would save - prolong - the lives of more people than coronavirus will likely kill, and that would be each and every year. There would also be a drop in deaths caused by road traffic incidents.

And if the climate change forecasts are correct then this pandemic will seem like a walk in the park in comparison.

But hey let's demonise people for riding bikes 👍

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ktache | 4 years ago
7 likes

To the people of the UK, i'm sorry that you feel that people cycling is putting the NHS or yourselves in danger.

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Zebulebu | 4 years ago
41 likes

FUCKS SAKE. I'm getting absolutely fucking sick of this. You want to see something dangerous? Try going to the supermarket with all the rest of the fucking sheep and interacting with the cashiers who come into close contact (within a foot) of hundreds of people every single day. Living on your own, working from home, riding on your own and seeing nobody else there is as close to a zero chance of spreading covid-19 as it is possible to get (outside of quarantining yourself completely) - whether you ride for 30 minutes a day or 12 hours a day.

This is 100% devised by the government so that they can blame their abject, utter failure to put together a coherent strategy to contain the spread early enough on the general public, using their attack dogs in the media to turn a bored, frightened public on an already nicely marginalised group.

The sole reason for this - when you strip away the bullshit about 'DANGER' - is that cycling is pretty much the one thing you can do 'normally' during this crisis (lack of group rides notwithstanding) - and that pisses people off who usually get their kicks from going to the pub, cinema restaurants, gym or team sports

Pathetic

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eburtthebike replied to Zebulebu | 4 years ago
17 likes

Zebulebu wrote:

FUCKS SAKE. I'm getting absolutely fucking sick of this. You want to see something dangerous? Try going to the supermarket with all the rest of the fucking sheep and interacting with the cashiers who come into close contact (within a foot) of hundreds of people every single day. Living on your own, working from home, riding on your own and seeing nobody else there is as close to a zero chance of spreading covid-19 as it is possible to get (outside of quarantining yourself completely) - whether you ride for 30 minutes a day or 12 hours a day. This is 100% devised by the government so that they can blame their abject, utter failure to put together a coherent strategy to contain the spread early enough on the general public, using their attack dogs in the media to turn a bored, frightened public on an already nicely marginalised group. The sole reason for this - when you strip away the bullshit about 'DANGER' - is that cycling is pretty much the one thing you can do 'normally' during this crisis (lack of group rides notwithstanding) - and that pisses people off who usually get their kicks from going to the pub, cinema restaurants, gym or team sports Pathetic

Why am I only allowed to like this once?  Consider it liked infinite times.

 

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Organon replied to eburtthebike | 4 years ago
7 likes

If you like it infinitely, how will we know if anyone else likes it?

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eburtthebike replied to Organon | 4 years ago
0 likes

Organon wrote:

If you like it infinitely, how will we know if anyone else likes it?

Easy; it'll be infinity plus 1.

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Tomskii replied to eburtthebike | 4 years ago
0 likes

Totally agree with you. I've been on a 5 hour ride this week on deserted roads  in Devon. On another day I had to go to a supermarket to stock up on essentials. From a virus spreading perspective, which is the more hazardous? I'm not angry with people who don't cycle, its not for everyone. But non cyclists shouldn't be angry with cyclists either. I am lucky that I've always liked to cycle and it gives me lots of benefits without putting others at risk.

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wycombewheeler replied to Zebulebu | 4 years ago
8 likes

Zebulebu wrote:

FUCKS SAKE. I'm getting absolutely fucking sick of this. You want to see something dangerous? Try going to the supermarket ......

I think not buying food for more weeks will have a bigger impact.

However, back to the story

1 depending on fitness, so more tha an hour not an issue for those who are fitter

2. 50 miles is only 3 hours, riding this every day is not that hard

4. most people who enter the challenge don't finish it in normal months, never mind now

5. trainer rides count to the total (a change due to the virus)

6 1250km/30 days is only 42km a day, 90 minutes for many people, not excessive excerise at all, especially with the time released from pointless commuting in polluting cars 

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hawkinspeter | 4 years ago
13 likes

I can't see a problem with lone cyclists doing a ride if they don't go near other cyclists and avoid busy areas. The rides that I've been doing don't even involve me touching anything or being anywhere near anyone else for more than a few seconds, so I'd wager that going shopping is more likely for me to catch and/or spread any virus.

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