Although people are being told to stay at home, exercise outside is still permitted, subject to regulations (legal requirements), and Government guidance (advisory). It’s actually good to cycle for health, fitness and well-being, but 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 take part in any cycling activity in groups. When cycling you must follow guidance on social distancing and its recommended that you carry tissues, disposing of them safely in a bin as soon as possible, avoid touching your face and wash your hands and preferably your gloves when you return home. To reduce pressure on emergency services please also avoid taking any unnecessary risks.
Here’s a quick summary of the advice offered by the national cycling charity, Cycling UK. More detail, together with other advice, is available at www.cyclinguk.org. If you’re a health or social care worker Cycling UK are offering 3 months free membership, including their excellent third-party liability insurance.
Q: Is it safe for a healthy cyclist under 70 to be cycling? Yes, as long as you maintain guidance on social distancing and hygiene advice.
Q: Is it safe for a healthy cyclist over 70 to continue cycling? Yes, but with extra caution. Exercise at home or in your garden is encouraged where possible, for example on a turbo trainer or an exercise bike, but if you feel that you need to go for a bike ride, choose a route where you are unlikely to meet any other people, or take your exercise at a quieter time.
Q: Is it safe for someone with a chronic health condition to continue cycling? If your chronic condition is relatively mild, you can follow the same advice as that for the over 70s. However, the more serious your condition, the more strongly you are advised to stay at home.
Q: Is it safe for someone who is unwell with a new continuous cough or fever to cycle? No. Do not go out, you present a risk to others. You should stay at home for at least 7 days. If you live with others they must self-isolate for 14 days from when you first had symptoms.
Q: I have been in close proximity recently with friends or relatives with symptoms who are self-isolating, but I don’t live in the same household as them. Is it safe for me to cycle? Yes. Cycling outside is fine, as long as you are well and have no symptoms.
Q: I have been in close proximity recently with friends or relatives with symptoms who are self-isolating, and I live in the same household as them. Is it safe for me to continue cycling? No. You present a high risk to others as you may be infected, even if you are not showing symptoms. You should stay at home even if you feel well.
Q: I’m in voluntary self-isolation because I have returned from a high-risk country, but I’m showing no symptoms. Is it OK to go for a bike ride by myself? Yes. Cycling is fine, as long as you are well and have no symptoms.
Q: My workplace is still open and requires me being there. Should I cycle to work? For those still needing to get to work, cycling is a healthy option which avoids public transport, helping to reduce overcrowding for those who are more dependent on public transport services.
Q: I am a key worker. Should I cycle to work? Yes. During the coronavirus outbreak, key workers are encouraged to cycle to work and avoid public transport if you can.
Q: Can I cycle to the shops? Yes. Buying essential shopping is one of the “reasonable excuses” to leave home and there is no reason not to make the journey by bike as long as you observe social distancing rules. Indeed, doing so is a healthy option that also reduces unnecessary vehicle traffic and pressure on public transport.
Q: Can I ride with a friend if we live in the same household? Yes, as long as you are feeling well and neither of you are showing any symptoms.
Q: Can I ride with a friend if we don’t live in the same household? No, you should not ride with a friend if you don’t live in the same household, as either of you may be infected, without showing symptoms.
Q: Is it OK to go for a ride with my kids? Yes, assuming you live in the same household as them. If you are all well and not self-isolating (because of symptoms of a cough or fever), then you are not a risk to each other.
Q: What advice should I give to my children if they are well and want to go for a ride? If old enough to go out alone and they understand social distancing and observe hygiene rules, then its OK for them to cycle.
Q. Is it OK for me to go for a ride in the woods? People should not be getting into their cars to travel to forests, woods and other outdoor spaces. However, if you live very close to such woods and forests and you can cycle to them from your front door it is OK.
Q: Does my ride have to start from home? The strict legal position is that there is no requirement that your permitted exercise must start from your front door; however, anyone thinking of jumping in a car to travel somewhere to take exercise might need to justify that this was reasonable. In the Worcester area it should be easy enough to find quiet, uncrowded places to cycle to from your front door.
Q: How long and how often can I ride for? Government guidance initially suggested only exercising once per day, but that is not a legal requirement. The guidance in England has now been changed to recognise that people with certain physical or mental health conditions may need to go out more often. There is no guidance on how long you should be exercising for, but Cycling UK advice is to go out for long enough to keep yourself in good shape physically and emotionally but avoid doing more than this.
Q: Should I ride on canal towpaths? If you chose to ride along a narrow towpath or pedways that are popular with walkers and joggers, at busy times of the day, it’s likely that you will find it difficult to pass those on foot while leaving the recommended two metres of space. You’ll end up either riding at walking pace behind people or breaching the social distancing guidelines.
Choosing where and when to ride is therefore important. Try and avoid routes that will be busy with other walkers and cyclists, or only use them at times when they’re unlikely to be busy. Ideally pick routes direct from your front door to avoid using your car. With so little traffic its often now better to use the roads.