Coronavirus: guidance for cyclists

Exercise is vital for our wellbeing, but make sure you follow local rules to stay safe. Photo by Simon Davey
Rob Kingston's picture

Coronavirus: guidance for cyclists

Coronavirus rules and restrictions vary across the UK and are changing all the time. Here is the latest guidance

*** This is a live document and was last updated Friday 9 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.

Please also see Coronavirus and cycling: your FAQs answered by our experts for further advice.***

Introduction

Regulations and guidance on meeting and exercising with people outside your own household change regularly and vary between the four nations of the UK. The advice in this article reflects the legal position as to what cyclists can and cannot do in various parts of the UK, but Cycling UK reminds riders to use their own judgement when deciding whether it is sensible to ride. 

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 practicable; however, common sense may dictate that travelling a short distance to a more suitable location is reasonable.

Cycling as an organised group

Different rules may apply for organised group rides in each nation: please check Coronavirus: guidance for Cycling UK groups for more information. We also have a separate article called Coronavirus: how to organise a safe group ride with tips on socially-distanced riding and maintaining hygiene.

Cycling with friends and family

There is different guidance on cycling with friends and family in each of the four UK nations. Please remember to check your area's rules on social-distancing, local restrictions and what constitutes households and support bubbles. Remember also to check restrictions on the areas you may be cycling to and from, and whether or not borders between nations are currently open for leisure cyclists. 

England

Update 9 April: From Monday 12 April, as well as outdoor hospitality venues such as pub gardens and cafés with outdoor seating being permitted to reopen, it is permitted for members of household to spend one night away from home. Outdoor exercise rules remain unchanged from the 29 March update below.

From 29 March, restrictions were relaxed, to include allowing groups of up to six people, or two households, to meet outdoors. There is additional guidance that exercise should also be limited to once per day, and you should stay within your local area. The definition of "local area" is unclear, but government guidance is that you should "avoid travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live". You can travel a short distance within your local area, however, in order to exercise, but again the distance is not defined. 

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 and Cycling UK. 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, which allows up to 15.

Cycling UK’s general advice to clubs pre-Covid was to restrict group rides to a maximum of 12-15 people, however currently we are advising that this should be treated as an absolute maximum, not a target number, and that people should exercise some discretion and common sense, depending on where they are riding.

Scotland

All of mainland Scotland, along with some islands, remains at Level 4. The latest guidance in Scotland from 12 March allows informal exercise in groups of up to four adults from up to two households, as well as organised group sporting activity (where a Covid-19 co-ordinator or Covid officer is involved) in groups of up to 15 adults. However, in line with recommendations agreed between sportscotland and Scottish Cycling, Cycling UK recommends a maximum group size of nine adults (from unlimited households).

Exercise must begin and end at the same place, and that place must be either within the local authority area in which you live, or within five miles of that local authority area (passing through other areas within Level 4 is allowed). These are the legal limits set in the regulations; however the Scottish government's guidance is that you should "travel no further than you need to reach to a safe, non-crowded place to exercise in a socially distanced way". Travel across the border to other nations is currently not permitted. 

Separate rules apply for organised group activities.

Wales

Update 9 April: From Monday 12 April, the restrictions on cross-border travel to or from England will be lifted.

From 27 March, guidance in Wales allows exercise in groups of up to six adults from up to two different households and such groups can cycle together without any time or distance limit on the length of that ride. 

Organised sport exemptions do not currently apply to group cycling in Wales. 

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 until 12 April 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.

Northern Ireland

Update 9 April: From Monday 12 April, organised sporting activity (which includes Cycling UK affiliated groups) is permitted in groups of up to 15 people.

The rule changes from 1 April allow up to 10 people from two households to undertake outdoor sporting activities, which includes a group cycle ride but only involving two families. 

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 until 12 April the Republic of Ireland has a strict 5km (3 mile) limit on travel for exercise.

    Queries

    Please get in touch with the team via publicity@cyclinguk.org if you have any queries about coronavirus. If you have any queries about group cycling, please contact groups@cyclinguk.org.

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