Covid-19 and Cycling

By Alison Hill

Managing the spread of Covid-19 is resulting in more and more restrictions on our lives. Cycling is one activity Cyclox believes that it is essential to maintain over the coming difficult weeks and months. Here we reflect on how important it is to all our lives and the lives of others, and why we don’t want to see the clamp down on cycling that is happening in other countries.

Cycling is a critical mode of transport for many of our key workers in the NHS and other services. They may not have access to a car but also want to avoid the risks of close proximity with others that public transport creates. Cycling is a low risk reliable and convenient way to travel between home and workplace and should be encouraged and even incentivised by all employers.

Cargo bike deliveries need to continue and grow. Pedal & Post for example is helping people in the city access food, medical supplies and other essential services and there’s at least one local food producer delivering by bike in Oxford. Keep them on the road please.

For now, and hopefully for the duration, people are able to get out on their bikes for exercise. Don’t go out on group rides, just go solo or with family only, to ensure that you keep at a distance from all other road users. If there is any threat to that freedom to go out, we will be there lobbying with other cycling groups. And please, Oxford City Council, don’t close recreational space to cyclists. If there is a problem of overcrowding, then do what the shops do and allow people in at intervals.

With our key workers using bikes as essential transport and the rest of us cycling for our daily exercise, bike shops need to stay open for sales and repairs. The Bicycle Association, the trade body for the cycle industry, has lobbied successfully to ensure bike shops remain open for business and they need all our support now as those very businesses could be under threat in the economic crisis we all face. And don’t forget there are mobile cycle mechanics who are here to help us as well.

Some countries are calling for segregated cycle lanes to protect cyclists. While traffic volume is down already and we have bus lanes to cycle in, there are many roads that might benefit from physical segregation.

We need to be lobbying nationally for a reduction in speed limits. Speed kills, and there have been lots of reports about how motor vehicles have taken advantage of uncongested roads to increase speeds way beyond the speed limits, risking their own lives and the lives of people walking and on bikes, and making unnecessary demands on the hospital services. Risk of collision and injury should not be used as an excuse to ban cycle riders. They are at risk because of motor vehicles travelling at speed.

One little bit of light in an otherwise dark time is going into town. The lack of traffic shows the city at its best, and we can breathe the clean air. Bicycles are a key mode of transport for getting to work, for deliveries and for exercise so please, you decision makers out there, don’t ban the use of them.

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Comments

David Wyatt

Dear Alison

I have read you piece on cycling in this difficult time and it is important for people to be able to exercise freely whilst keeping safe. I note that you suggest that your members keep ‘ a distance’ it is important to specify that distance as being at least 2 metres as legislated. It is also important that cyclists are reminded that they have a responsibility to keep that distance away from walkers and give way to pedestrians as legislation. I would also ask you to point out that cyclists keep within the speed limits and where there is no limit specified as on bridleways they should ensure that they ride at a safe speed bearing in mind the safety of others at this time. Could you also remind your members to only ride on designated roads, cycle routes and bridleways and not on footpaths which are usually narrow and preclude social distancing for mounted cyclists and is against current legislation.

Thank you for your help at this difficult time as we want everyone to remain fit and safe and not further burden our Critical services and key workers.

Best wishes and keep safe

David

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