Open for business in spite of the virus
On Tuesday morning the lights and heating were off, the bike shed empty, and the doors and windows locked at Cycling UK’s head office in Guildford, Surrey.
People passing by would be forgiven for thinking coronavirus has done for our national cycling charity what it has and is doing for countless small businesses and charities across the country – forcing us to scale down our operations or even close down indefinitely.
Fortunately, I’m pleased to say this is not the case for Cycling UK.
Despite all the difficulties the coronavirus has brought to the way we all live and work, as a charity and champion for the UK’s cyclists, we have never been busier than we are now as we work on behalf of our UK-wide cycling community.
Unfortunately, we’ve had to postpone our Bike Week events until the autumn, rethink how our Big Bike Revival programme will run, and we’re still looking at the implications for the Women’s Festival of Cycling.
But from Cornwall to Orkney, Cardiff to Belfast, Cycling UK staff are all hard at work, beavering away at makeshift desks in their homes, while like you, they juggle family and caring responsibilities with their jobs and the difficulties of lockdown.
As a charity, we’re doing our utmost to make sure they’re all supported in the way they need during this difficult time – that means family and health first – so that they, in turn, can support you in the cycling you want to enjoy.
Everything changes so swiftly at the moment, that it's hard to keep track of how the latest public health and government advice should apply to us all – and particularly for activities like cycling.
Our policy team has however, been working tirelessly over the past fortnight engaging with public health bodies and professionals to get the advice you need to carry on cycling safely.
That means we’ve had to give bad news like last week’s call to end group riding. As a club rider, I miss my weekend rides with my club mates, but if we all do our bit and follow the Government’s advice, I know I’ll soon be riding with them again.
As a club rider, I miss my weekend rides with my club mates, but if we all do our bit and follow the Government’s advice, I know I’ll soon be riding with them again.
Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive
But it also means we’re in a position to speak to government and make sure that cycling is included on their list of recommended daily exercise, that bike shops can remain open to ensure nurses and doctors can keep on riding to where they’re needed most.
Our work is not on a par with what our heroes in the NHS are doing. But as a charity, we are working to make sure the Government’s messaging is clear and widely spread among the cycling community.
It’s definitely needed. Each day Cycling UK is receiving hundreds of queries – all of which we answer via our online updated Q&A article, updated constantly with clear definitive answers you need, so your cycling doesn’t put others at risk of spreading the virus further.
It’s heartening to read and hear of everyone’s concern to make sure their beloved activity is done in a way which will not put others at risk. I know the team here appreciates the understanding you demonstrate when we advise you to change the way you normally cycle.
By follow the Government’s advice and working together on this, we are helping to save lives.
However, our work isn’t now just about communicating how to cycle in the time of coronavirus.
Our campaigns teams in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland work has not stopped. Governments’ focus is on managing the economic and health crises we face, but that doesn’t mean all their other work has come to a halt.
Changes to the Highway Code, the impact of HS2 on communities’ ability to cycle, changes to active travel delivery in Wales – the team is working on all of these to make sure that once we emerge out the other end of this dark tunnel, that the way we cycle is not set back.
Our core work in supporting communities to cycle via the Big Bike Revival may be halted for now, but hopefully we’ll have an announcement in the coming days on how we can employ this same expertise in supporting the nation’s key workers.
Our volunteering team is looking into ways in which our thousands of volunteers’ passion can be diverted to helping those most at need.
Despite the coronavirus, Cycling UK will keep doing the work we’ve been doing for the past 142 years. We will not stop.
That’s why it’s vital you continue to support us, and fund us. Your membership fees are what allow us to carry on through this difficult time, and I really cannot thank every one of you enough for staying with us during these dark days.
And if you’re someone who hasn’t joined yet, please – if you can afford to spare the price of a coffee and cake a month – join and support us.
Help us to keep the UK cycling.