British Cycling has warned that the ‘privilege’ of riding a bike could be removed if people fail to observe instructions on social distancing this weekend.
In an open letter published on Friday night, British Cycling CEO Julie Harrington said it was “heartening” that the Government had so far protected people’s right to ride a bike, but warned that this must not be taken for granted.
Government advice on staying at home currently lists as an exception, “one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.”
It goes on to say that, “even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.”
Despite this, some have undertaken group rides or arranged to meet friends midway through a ride. Others have used their daily ride to cover great distances, arguing that the guidelines don’t specify a time limit.
Harrington said: "People on bikes were not the only culprits in last weekend's mass dash to the outdoors but, despite strong guidance from ourselves and others, too many chose to ignore the Prime Minister's instructions on social distancing, continuing to ride in groups and meet in cafes for a mid-ride chat.
"This isn't just irresponsible, it is putting people's lives at risk. A repeat of that this weekend risks further Government measures to take away the privilege of riding a bike for all of us and now more than ever, it is not one we can afford to lose."
Greater Manchester’s cycling commissioner, Chris Boardman, urged people to, “make sure bikes continue to be a part of the solution to this crisis, and are seen to be part of the solution.”
After highlighting key workers’ use of bikes for essential journeys, he said: “For the rest of us, [bikes] are a way to go and get supplies, take essential exercise and, crucially, give us a mental break each day, helping us ensure prolonged isolation is actually sustainable.
“But for bikes to remain a force for good and help us get through this, this is how it’s got to work: only ride alone or with people that you live with and stay at least two metres away from anybody that you meet. Do not, under any circumstances, ride in a group.
“As per government instructions, only go out once [to exercise] each day. And finally, be sensible. Only ride on routes that you know well and that are well within your ability.”
He advised people to, “obey these rules as if your life, and the lives of others, depend on it – because they do.”
A Public Service Announcement from @Chris_Boardman 📢
— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) March 27, 2020