At a time when the list of activities we can’t do as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is hugely restrictive, Bott and Co would like to put forward an argument in favour of cycling. It’s no secret that as a firm, we are big biking advocates to begin with, but during the coronavirus health crisis, we’d like to encourage the use of bikes even more.
Indeed, Chris Boardman MBE himself, a British former racing gold medallist and the walking and cycling commissioner of Manchester, said earlier in 2020 in front of Parliament: “Pick a crisis, and you’ll probably find cycling is a solution.”
Cycling can provide structure to an otherwise-uncertain day, keeping the nation to a welcome routine when everything else has, and rightly so for the nation’s health, been cast aside. What’s more, in terms of the risk of contracting coronavirus, surely getting on a bike and maintaining social distancing is less dangerous than opting for public transport, where many people may be overcrowded within a small space?
Over one third of trips taken in the UK are less than two miles’ distance, which we believe could, and should, naturally lean towards increased bicycle use. Discussions around the pros of cycling for fitness, health and environmental concerns are currently very timely, as the government has just revealed an “unprecedented vision” of future travel which aims to focus on walking and cycling amongst the key areas of transport.
We Disagree With Arguments Against Cycling During Coronavirus
Recently, the Association of British Drivers has waded into the debate. The motoring group’s Director Paul Biggs tweeted: “You can’t do much shopping on a bike – I am walking to local shops for essentials, not driving to large supermarkets… Best to avoid cycling in case you fall off and require medical assistance.” In another tweet, he stated, “I like cycling (e-bike), but in extraordinary times I think any hazardous activity should be avoided unless absolutely essential. So car on drive, bike in garage!”
But practising GP Dr Kate Hattersley of South Devon Cycling UK outlines that, for any asymptomatic cyclists under the age of 70, “There is no reason for you to stop cycling, as long as you maintain guidance on social distancing. You should carry tissues to use while cycling, disposing of them safely in a bin as soon as possible.”
Cycling can provide structure to an otherwise-uncertain day, keeping the nation to a welcome routine when everything else has, and rightly so for the nation’s health, been cast aside.
For cyclists over 70, Dr Hattersley advises that they act with “particular caution” as the latest advice is to remain at home for the next twelve weeks to protect yourself from infection.
By the end of this crisis, charities such as Sustrans and Living Streets are hopeful that measures adopted during these extraordinary times, i.e. increased bike rides, will continue to be adopted to ensure a healthier future, and in turn, less pollution and also reduced strain on the NHS.
UK Academics Plea To Government Not To Ban Cycling
Sixteen leading UK academics have joined forces in an open letter to the government, insisting that cycling shouldn’t be banned. They say that cycling can be compatible with social distancing, especially in green spaces, and that during any period of lockdown, “all of our existing social and health risks do not simply go away.”
The letter requests that the government considers following Bogota, Colombia’s lead in carving out “emergency infrastructure”, i.e. new temporary bicycle lanes with traffic bollards, to support the safe use of bikes. The UK’s cycling association, along with walking and cycling charity Sustrans and Cycling UK has written to the Prime Minister stressing the “role bicycles can play in maintaining transport resilience, as well as fitness and wellbeing.”
David Bott Weighs In On Cycling During The Covid-19 Lockdown
David Bott, Senior Partner at Bott and Co and an avid cyclist himself, counteracts the argument around safety concerns. He says, “A couple of weekends ago, I went out on bike rides on Saturday and Sunday, and both days, the roads were deserted. The chance of a cycling collision is infinitesimal to begin with, but the quiet roads make the chances of an accident occurring even more remote. After the exercise, I felt so much better; my head was clearer and my body thanked me for the exertion.
“As long as we’re strictly adhering to the government rules of only heading outside for exercise once a day, and maintaining a safe social distance of at least two metres, why should we deter people from embarking on exercise that can keep us healthy, both physically and mentally?”