Coronavirus, Covid-19, CV or whatever you choose to call this dreadful virus has had an enormous affect of lives of everyone around the world. Government advice is to stay at home if you can and only go out for essential shopping and to exercise once per day whilst we are in lockdown
So what does this mean for cyclists, are we allowed to go cycling during the Coronavirus crisis?
The number of Coronavirus cases in the UK is currently surpassed only by a few countries; Italy, Spain, USA, France & Germany, we’re even about to go ahead of China (although there is conflicting opinions on the accuracy of their data). Regardless of the final numbers, this is serious.
The official UK Government advice is that exercising once per day is permitted but as with many things, a few minority numbers are abusing this for the rest of us and this advice may soon change to banning exercising out of the home during lockdown.
The virus has taken over our lives. Big countries like Spain & Italy, who have a strong economy, are breaking down at the hands of this virus. This is a virus that affects people of all ages, old & young, with the death toll increasing at a rapid rate. Hospitals are being strained in their ability to cope 24/7 with NHS staff struggling to manage. People are advised to stay inside in order to contain the spread of the virus as much as possible.
Impact on Cycling During Covid-19 Lockdown Crisis?
As cyclists, our day-to-day routines have been interrupted, causing us to break away from reality. Together, we need to understand the balance of maintaining a healthy balance of normality whilst the world is in lockdown for Covid-19.
The government has recently advised people to take serious precautions and to be mindful to the spread of the coronavirus, limiting non-essential travel. Whilst this may be frustrating for many cyclists, the alternatives aren’t worth the risk, to ourselves or others. As tempting as it may be to go about our daily cycling routine, it is down to us all to take proper precautions.
Cycling demands an open environment, which most of us like to carry out with a partner or in a group, which we are restricted to do at this time. However, there are still ways to go about it. We need to take a break from looking at the daily count of coronavirus cases. We need something to distract ourselves during these times of distress and chaos, and we need cycling more than ever before.
For those cyclists who have ventured out on your bikes since the start of lockdown will no doubt have noticed almost nirvana-like experiences of quite roads, fewer cars and even polite drivers giving us additional space; it’s almost like a throwback to the 1950s & ’60s.
Can I Still Cycle During Coronavirus Lockdown?
It is advised to stay inside and to not go out beyond what is absolutely essential. Social distancing is the most important aspect of it all. It asks people to keep a distance of at least 2m from each other. Wearing masks and gloves while going out and washing your hands when you come back, and on a repeated basis is suggested.
This week, the chief executive of British cycling, Julie Harrington has urged ministers to recommend cycling as one of the activities to do during the lockdown. The letter sent to Matt Hancock reads;
“Riding bicycles offers us a unique solution to several of the key challenges facing us. It is a safe form of local transport and gentle recreation, keeping us the required distance from others, while at the same time strengthening our immune systems and bolstering our mental health.”
You can go out for short bike rides only if you are well-protected and taking all the precautionary measures with 30 to 60 minutes of exercise helping to boost your immunity which is required in such times. Harrington also addressed that we need to follow the trend with other countries;
“This approach is being followed elsewhere, where we have in some cases seen Government advise their citizens to cycle more. Indeed, Germany’s Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn this week appealed for people to walk or cycle rather than use public transport.”
Whilst cycling during Covid-19 is being pushed by officials, it is still our responsibility ensure we are cleaning our bike thoroughly before touching it, going out and keeping a distance from surfaces, wearing masks and gloves, spending little time outside, and cleaning your bike when we return back. It is crucial that we take this virus seriously.
On the upside, if we do all of this and are successfully able to beat the virus, we can continue with our daily cycling routine we so crave.
Is cycling the catalyst for preventing the spread?
There is currently no vaccine available to treat or prevent the virus. One of the ways the virus spreads is from person to person. People who are in close contact with one another can effectively increase the chance of spread. Since cycling is a one-person exercise, for the most part, the risk factor is minimal. With that said, it is important that you avoid 2-person bike rides and take to the road for the mandatory commute to work or part of your daily exercise.
The virus also spreads through respiratory droplets produced by people who are sick when they sneeze. This is particularly hazardous for the workers that need to travel to offices. With most commuters being crammed on public transport, governments should use this pandemic to make it easier for cities to avoid using public transport. Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, has taken this opportunity to leverage cycling as a way of preventing the outreach from spreading further.
If you don’t own a bike and it is essential for you to travel to work, I highly recommend looking for a commuter bike to avoid the close proximity with the public, which is the main contributing cause of the spread.
Keeping Your Bike Coronavirus Free
You can use disinfectants that are high in alcohol content as it is reported to be highly effective against Coronavirus. It is advised to disinfect first and then wash the bike thoroughly with hot water and a detergent.
You must also wash your clothes when you come back from a ride outside as the virus could be stuck to the surface, and of course wash yourself too.
Dr Kate Hattersley works with the charity Cycling UK and has reiterated the importance of maintaining clean cycling gloves that are often forgotten during the outbreak;
“It’s also advisable to wash your cycling gloves, too. Remember to avoid touching your face if your hands are not clean.”
Cycling has always been an escape from a busy life, for many people. And to see it get affected like this is truly heartbreaking. But in times like this, we need to come together, unite and stay strong in order to eradicate the issue. We can and will rise above it and cycling, along with other fun outdoor activities, will be restored back to full throttle.
If you have any symptoms of the virus such as upper respiratory infection or even a mild fever with flu, you should report it immediately and stop going out for rides. Other than that, we should avoid riding in groups, as that can become a hub for the virus.
I advise that riding solo is the way to go for now. Keeping the bike clean and yourself protected is the move. Using your bike to commute when necessary to avoid public transport is a crucial factor in containing the spread and most importantly, we must not overlook the usual road safety required when riding.
Life can still be enjoyed within the holds of this pandemic should we chose to adhere to the advice from authorities in cycling.