Coronavirus: Advice and guidance for Cycling UK member and affiliate groups

Keep up-to-date with the latest guidance for riding during lockdown. Photo: Wayne Fox Photography
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Coronavirus: Advice and guidance for Cycling UK member and affiliate groups

Cycling UK is working towards ensuring some form of riding can continue within some nations. This is constantly evolving, so please keep an eye on local and national news

*** This is a live document and was last updated Friday 26 March to reflect the relaxation of exercise restrictions in Wales from 27 March and planned changes in Northern Ireland from 1 April.***

Note that it is not possible to cover every local variation across the UK here and you should always follow local restrictions where these are imposed. ***

Cycling UK’s advice below is aimed at member and affiliated groups. For advice on safe and responsible riding outside of organised groups see our coronavirus Q&A page.

Latest update: relaxation of restrictions in Wales from 27 March, and changes in Northern Ireland from 1 April

From 27 March, restrictions are being relaxed to allow up to six people from two different households to meet outdoors, and such groups can cycle together without any time or distance limit on the length of that ride. The "stay local" message is also being dropped, so within Wales there will be no restrictions on where you can ride or for how long, subject to the restriction that any group you ride with can’t be larger than six or involve more than two households.

Organised sport exemptions do not currently apply to adult group cycling in Wales, so such rides must also be limited to groups of up to six people from two households. There are more substantial relaxations allowing the resumption of organised activities and sports for children under 18, which would potentially allow larger group rides for children, but currently that exemption only applies to those under 18. 

It is important to note however that there are still restrictions on cross-border travel, so cycle rides that cross between England and Wales, in either direction, are not permitted if they are purely for leisure or recreation. That is not an absolute ban on any cycle ride across the border, as such a ride is permitted if it falls within the "reasonable excuse" category, which would include cycling to work or for an essential journey.

From 1 April the restrictions in place in Northern Ireland are being relaxed, permitting up to 10 people from two households to undertake outdoor sporting activities, which includes a group cycle ride but only involving two families. Further relaxations are expected from 12 April, though these have not yet been confirmed, which should allow the recommencement of group rides without the two family restriction.

There is no official limit on the distance you can travel, but advice is to stay local and avoid unnecessary travel. You should also remember that the Republic of Ireland has a strict 5km (3 mile) limit on travel for exercise, which is due to be reviewed on 5 April.

Update 23 March: proposals permitting group riding in England from 29 March

The government’s roadmap out of lockdown document sets out proposed relaxations to restrictions in England on or after 29 March. These include allowing groups of up to six people, or two households, to meet outdoors.

The roadmap also indicates (para 102) that organised sports can restart, which will not be subject to the rule of six gathering limit, but should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies. Sport England has subsequently published guidance confirming that organised sport and activity includes group cycle rides, so group rides of more than six are allowed from 29 March onwards under the organised sport and activity exemption.

Cycling UK’s general advice to clubs pre-Covid was to restrict group rides to a maximum of 15 people, however currently we are advising that this should be treated as an absolute maximum for group rides, not a target number, and that people should exercise some discretion and common sense depending on where they are riding.

Update 12 March: organised group riding permitted in Scotland

The latest guidance in Scotland from 12 March allows for organised group sporting activity (where a Covid-19 co-ordinator is involved) in groups of up to 15 adults. However, in line with the recommendations agreed between sportscotland and Scottish Cycling, Cycling UK recommends a maximum group size of nine adults (from unlimited households). For more detailed information see Scottish Cycling's coronavirus guidance.

Note that current government guidance prohibits organised group rides from transiting through multiple local authority areas within Level 4, although this is permitted for informal exercise that does not take advantage of the organised group exemption.

Exercise and 'staying local' in England

Cycling UK, along with British Cycling and British Triathlon, recently wrote to the Department for Digital. Culture, Media and Sport to ask for clarification on what constitutes local exercise. The minister for sport, Nigel Huddleston, has now responded:

"As you are aware, the government’s current guidance regarding outdoor exercise states that people are allowed to leave their home to exercise outdoors, and should remain as local as possible.

As you state, people’s circumstances are different and so this guidance relies on people to use their common sense to determine what is and is not a reasonable distance for their outdoor exercise.

As we navigate these necessary new restrictions, we remain clear on just how important exercise is to people's health and wellbeing, whilst staying safe at home."

While the minister's response stopped short of defining what constitutes "local", we are pleased to see official recognition of the fact that people's individual circumstances vary and that common sense needs to be applied. What is appropriate in one area may not be appropriate in another. The intention behind both the regulations and the guidance is to limit contact between people and reduce the spread of infection, and these must be balanced with the well established physical and mental benefits of exercising outdoors.

Cycling UK therefore encourages people to continue to cycle for exercise during the current lockdown, but to do so in a manner which minimises risk. In the absence of specific regulation on how far they can travel, cyclists should use their common sense: for example, avoiding crowded or narrow routes where social distancing is difficult to maintain, but also bearing in mind that you may put others at risk if you suffer an injury or mechanical problem far from home and require rescue. To minimise unnecessary travel, start and end your rides at home if this is practical; however, common sense may dictate that travelling a short distance to a more suitable location is reasonable.

Coronavirus and group cycling

Where riding is allowed, cyclists should still observe good hygiene, and Cycling UK advises leaving plenty of space when passing others, and to avoid pulling in rapidly after overtaking another cyclist, causing them to end up in your slipstream.

Cycling UK's advice remains that it is advisable for people to cycle for their health, fitness and well-being. 

The guidance for avoiding contamination remains unchanged, keeping at least two metres away from anyone else where possible, regularly washing your hands and catching coughs and sneezes in tissues and disposing of them appropriately as soon as possible. For further advice, please refer to the NHS website. 

We will continue to evaluate the latest advice from government and update our guidance accordingly. As the threat level reduces, our guidance is likely to be along these lines but this will depend on factors such as local levels of infection, national guidance and so on.

Statement from Cycling UK 

As the national cycling charity, our aim is to support the UK’s population to cycle. This remains true during this period of coronavirus affecting the UK. 

Above all, the safety and welfare of Cycling UK’s staff, volunteers, participants at our rides and events, beneficiaries of our cycling programmes and the general public is always our main priority. 

We are closely monitoring the situation and taking advice from the government, the NHS and partners.  

Advice for Cycling UK volunteers 

If your volunteering role is solo and you can undertake it within a Covid safe environment, then please continue to do so. You can leave your home to provide voluntary and/or charitable services. 

Insurance

Note that in light of the latest government advice on coronavirus, and guidance on social distancing designed to reduce the risk of spreading infection, group cover provided under the organiser’s liability insurance could potentially be invalid if a club or affiliated group decides to go against the advice issued by Cycling UK and arranges large-scale events and/or large group rides that exceed the numbers permitted under each nation's guidance.

For individual cyclists, the third-party liability insurance included within membership will protect a member of the public against the risk of a cycling-related incident involving an insured member. 

The safety and wellbeing of Cycling UK’s staff, volunteers, riders, beneficiaries of our cycling programmes and the general public remains our number one priority. 

Cycling UK will continue to monitor the situation and will be taking advice from the government, the health sector and partners. 

Avoiding contamination

Guidance for avoiding contamination remains the same: 

  • Catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue and disposing of them appropriately as soon as possible
  • Washing hands with soap and water regularly for at least 20 seconds (or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser if you're unable to wash your hands with soap and water) 
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are unwell. 

You can find more information about social distancing on the government’s website

Symptoms 

Following recent guidance released from the government, ​we ask that all of our volunteers and members stay at home if you have the below symptoms and do not attend Cycling UK activities which may still be happening despite the above stated advice. 

For your information, you are advised to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of travel history or contact with confirmed cases, if you have any of these symptoms: 

  • a new continuous cough 
  • high temperature (of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher)
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

Do not go to a surgery, pharmacy or hospital. 

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home. 

Fourteen-day isolation is required if you:

  • live in a household with anyone that has symptoms
  • have been contacted by the NHS because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, or
  • have travelled from outside the UK and Ireland, unless from an exempt country. Note that Northern IrelandScotland, England and Wales have separate lists of exempt countries. 

Read the recommended government stay at home advice and NHS coronavirus advice.  

Further updates 

We’ll continue to monitor the situation carefully and will update groups and areas via the website and Velocheer, our volunteer newsletter. If any further action is needed, such as the cancellation of rides and events, we will contact groups and event organisers directly.  

If you have any questions please see our coronavirus FAQs page, or contact the Group Engagement Officer on 01483 238338 or via groups@cyclinguk.org

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