Why we had no choice but to advise against group rides

Cycling UK is advising against group riding following Government guidelines intended to curtail the spread of coronavirus Covid-19. Head of Communications, Adrian Wills explains why we had to make this difficult decision.

If there’s one thing better than cycling, it’s cycling with your friends or family.

There’s nothing quite like buzzing along under clear blue skies, chatting and pedalling without a care in the world.

After all, it’s one of life’s great pleasures.

Which was why it was with heavy hearts that we issued advice against riding in a group for the foreseeable future.

But we are in unprecedented times.

The UK Government has asked us all to practise social distancing or, if we have symptoms or live with someone else who has symptoms, to self-isolate.

This must extend to cycling too, no matter how frustrating that seems right now.

We tried to make our advice clear and unequivocal, following guidance issued by the Government, Public Health England and public health agencies across the UK. 

In response we’ve been accused by a small minority of being ‘ridiculous’, ‘over the top’, and told there is ‘no justification for it.’


Perhaps they’ve not seen the shocking images from inside Italian hospitals where the authorities have failed to contain the spread of the disease.

Perhaps they’ve not seen the graphs showing the terrifying peaks in the numbers of people predicted to be infected and who will die if we don’t act together as a society.

This is no joke.

It’s not fake news.

Coronavirus is a virulent disease sweeping the world and changing the way we live. 

We all have a moral and societal duty to do the right thing, even if it does disrupt the way we have to live our lives for the next few months or however long it takes.

It doesn’t mean you can’t cycle, at least for now.

The Government’s own advice is that we should all be taking regular exercise, and what better way than cycling.

We all know the benefits on our health, fitness and wellbeing – and to be honest, we could all probably do with a bit of cheering up at the moment.

So, provided you don’t have symptoms, go out, have a ride. Get some fresh air and the blood pumping.

Just don’t do it in a group for the time being.

Because the danger is, if we don’t heed the warnings, the Government might have to go further and introduce a total lockdown, forcing us all to stay indoors.

And then we may not be able to go out cycling at all.

What is a group?

We have received a number of queries regarding our advice about riding in a group.

For clarification, you should not be riding in a group for the foreseeable future.

That is why we took the decision to cancel all our large events, club rides and gatherings.

A group constituents more than one person.

We consider it currently safe to ride as a group only if you are already co-habiting. In other words, families, partners and house shares who live together.

We believe that groups of non-habiting riders breach social distancing guidelines set out by the Government and public health agencies because of the close proximity riders are likely to be in and the length of time they would be together.

Cycling UK will continue to monitor the situation, taking advice from the Government, the health sector and partners, and will update you when the situation changes.

In the meantime, you might like to check out our handy Q&A about coronavirus and cycling