What is currently happening
The government has announced the whole of England will enter a national lockdown (from Jan 5), in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19. The devolved Scottish government also announced a new national lockdown to try and put a stop to the spiralling numbers of positive cases.
The new rules are similar to those implemented in England in November 2020, though the government is reintroduced its ‘stay at home’ message as it had during the first lockdown in March.
There are some key differences in the new lockdown rules for cyclists compared to the first lockdown, with the devolved governments also implementing varying advice. Here’s what you need to know.
Coronavirus rules for cyclists in England
With the government readopting its stay at home message, the latest rules echo the first lockdown in March 2020, with the emphasis on keeping people at home to try and stop the escalating Covid-19 numbers. People should only leave home for essential shopping trips, to go to work if they can’t work from home, and for outdoor exercise (among other exceptions).
Only essential shops will remain open, however that does include cycling shops, meaning you’ll be able to take your bike for urgent repairs if you need to.
The government continues to encourage people to take outdoor exercise, so riding your bike is still very much allowed. The rules state that you should stay local and that you should only take exercise once per day. You can exercise with those in your household or with your support bubble (if you’re eligible for one).
The key difference to the March 2020 lockdown is that you can continue to exercise with one other person from outside of your household, however the government says you should keep two metres apart from anyone not in your household at all times. Again, you can only do this once per day.
All group rides and organised cycling activities are cancelled, and you should not attend or organise rides with more than one person from outside of your household. Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.
Benefits of cycling
Fitness – According to Bike Trainer World, most cyclists ride 10-12 miles per hour… That’s a solid workout. Cycling builds muscle mass and improves lung capacity, with the low-impact nature of the sport reducing joint soreness and injury when compared to other workouts.
Weight-Loss and the Linked Benefits – Cycling at least 20 miles per week also reduces the risk of heart disease by around half that of non-cyclists (British Health Foundation), not to mention all the other benefits that flow on from weight loss. Often weight loss is a key reason people move into cycling. Of those participating in the Cycle to Work Scheme, 52% believe it has contributed to weight loss (Cycle to Work Alliance).
Boosted Immunity – The increase in physical activity and link with more valuable sleep allows your body to fight bugs and bacteria more effectively. Your body becomes stronger, inside and out.
Stronger Mental Health
Become Happier – There’s nothing like the great outdoors to cure the blues and help you see life more positively. There’s something soothing about exploring new locations and taking in the views, tackling new challenges such as a sportive or climbing that steep track, and having the time to process life’s concerns.
Develop Connections – If you’re more interested in the social aspect that comes with cycling, there are so many warm and welcoming clubs to choose from. Making new friends and connecting with the community is often what draws newbies to cycling, while feeling happier and healthier is what keeps them coming back.
Confidence – Cyclists have reported significant increases to self-confidence after consistent cycling has led to weight loss and muscle gains. It’s quite remarkable how this single change in lifestyle can really turn around a person’s physical and mental health.
No Fees – It’s ridiculous how much money you can save by jumping on two wheels every once in a while. Although the majority of cyclists also own a car, you’re spared the extra road tax, MOT, compulsory insurance, licensing, breakdown recovery, parking and fuel costs you would normally pay for a motor vehicle.
Low Maintenance – You don’t need to worry about expensive maintenance costs and the ever-looming short life expectancy that comes with driving a car. Bikes have been known to last decades and a good bike will only see you spending £50 a year on maintenance.