It has rarely been more tempting to get out on your bike.
With the spring months bringing sunshine, and with extra time on our hands and energy to burn, there are few better activities right now than to hop on a bicycle, whether it’s hitting the road on your 29” slims or tearing up a woodland trail. Lockdown life has significantly reduced the amount of traffic on the roads and dramatically increased air quality in our towns and cities.
Keeping people safe during the coronavirus lockdown is important to everyone however there is considerable confusion over what’s allowed and what isn’t. The benefits of cycling to our physical and mental health are well known, but government guidance has been confusing, and while we are all quite sure we can cycle, it is less clear how far you can go and with whom.
Riding your bike has been permitted since the lockdown began in March and bike shops have been permitted to remain open despite other sporting outlets being required to close. There was encouragement to keep cycling local and minimal, though there was no legal limit to how long or how far you could ride.
The Government has more recently attempted to clarify the rules and from May 13th people in England are allowed to exercise as much as they like, wherever they like. In Scotland unlimited exercise is permitted from May 11th however the stay at home measures remain in place.
In April, Cycling Weekly contacted the Department for Media, Culture and Sport to find out if the government had issued guidelines on how long to ride for.
“There is no strict limit on time for exercise,” a press spokesperson replied. “The official guidelines are clear that, in any given day, a person can go outside for one form of basic exercise, such as a walk, a run or a cycle, if they are well enough and as long as they are on their own, or with members of their household.”
In Scotland, unlimited exercise is now permitted. At the time of writing that means you can ride your bike for as long or as far as you like, though you should still only ride on your own or with members of your household and unfortunately for downhill MTB aficionados, you can’t drive to your cycling destination.
With social distancing measures still in place, it is useful to consider the following questions when deciding how far and how long you should ride for:
How far were you cycling prior to the lock-down?
Be guided by what you are used to. Take exercise but don’t push yourself to the limit. Social distancing is impossible to maintain if you end up needing rescued. Brings the tools you require for fixing punctures and take enough water and snacks so that you don’t make unnecessary stops at petrol stations and shops out with your local area.
Can you stay close to home?
One of the arguments against long bike rides is the possibility of an accident when you’re far from home. If you can try and stick to riding loops or figures-of-eight that minimise how far away you are if you do need assistance.
Ultimately, everyone must judge their own individual circumstances, balancing the physical and mental benefits of cycling with the potential to spread the virus or place strain on emergency services.
Staying safe on the Roads
With record low levels of traffic some might argue that there has never been a safer time to be on a bicycle, however average vehicle speeds have increased and the risk of injury can never be fully excluded.
Whether in lockdown or not, cyclists should always make use of cycle lanes where possible, wear a helmet and high visibility clothing and avoid busy roads or densely packed areas.
If you or anyone you know suffers loss or damage as a result of an accident in Scotland that was not your fault you could be entitled to significant compensation.
Contact Thompsons Solicitors Scotland on 0800 0891 331 and speak to one of our specialist claims handlers today.
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Blog by Lewis Clark, Solicitor