Why are so many people choosing to cycle during the coronavirus outbreak?

Are you still allowed to ride your bike in the UK and why are bike shops staying open?

Bike shops to remain open during UK 'lockdown'

On Monday, 23rd March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK would be stepping-up measures to help combat the spread of coronavirus. As part of the government’s attempts to keep people indoors, a number of retail shops selling non-essential goods across the country would be forced to close.

Cinemas, pubs and libraries are also shut, but some stores were given exemption to remain open. Bike shops – along with supermarkets and food shops – were listed as essential businesses and are exempt from the nation-wide closures.

Despite the rise in the number of cases of COVID-19, Jonathan Harrison, from the Association of Cycle Traders, has noticed that there seems to be more people using bikes to get around.

In an interview with the Guardian, he said: “In the last 10 days there has been a surge in the number of people getting bikes out of sheds and garages, dusting them off and thinking ‘I might need this.’”

While the government has advised people to stay at home and to avoid public gatherings, there are four exceptions in which you can venture outside: 

  • Shopping for basic necessities.
  • To provide care to a vulnerable person.
  • As a form of exercise (once per day).
  • Travelling to and from work if you are a key worker.

Government coronavirus exceptions

Bike shops and supermarkets are permitted to stay open following strict measures.

Can commuters cycle to avoid public transport?

While the official government guidance states that those who can work from home must do so, not everyone is afforded the luxury. Nurses, doctors and front-line medical staff are needed to treat patients, while other key workers still need to commute.

Pictures of crammed tube trains during morning rush-hour prompted indignation from Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and across social media.

As a way of avoiding crowds and maintaining the recommended two-metre distance between other members of the public, could cycling prove to be a solution for commuters?

Replacing a crowded bus or underground train with a bike can drastically reduce the amount of social interaction that a commuter would usually have to face. For doctors and nurses, cycling to work might even help avoid the contentious car parking charges in hospitals.

At the beginning of the month, the Bicycle Association urged the government to recognise the strategic importance of the UK cycling industry by releasing a statement outlining how cycling has a “Key role in maintaining local transport resilience”.

What is the government advice on one form of exercise a day?

As part of the escalation to suppress the spread of coronavirus, the government announced that each individual is entitled to one form of exercise a day, in order to maintain fitness and improve general well-being.

Is cycling classed as a form of exercise?

Cycling is specifically mentioned by the UK government as a form of exercise that you can leave the house to do.

Are group rides allowed?

Government guidelines on combatting the spread of coronavirus state that gatherings of more than two people should be stopped and that people from different households need to be kept more than two metres apart. As such, group bike rides as a form of daily exercise may be made increasingly difficult.

What are the benefits of cycling as a form of exercise?

As well as getting people out in the fresh air after hours and maybe even days of not leaving the house, cycling can also help keep distance between members of the public.

There are numerous physical benefits for choosing to hop on your bike. Whether it’s to give yourself a cardiovascular workout, burning away that excess fat or even as an energy-efficient way to move around, pedal power really can keep you healthy. Not only that, but it’s important to remember the mental health benefits of exercise during these tough times.

Cycling itself is a great way to improve your wellbeing. A 2014 study even found that those who cycle to work were put under less strain than those who commute by car.

Sport England have outlined the importance of exercise to combat stress and anxiety, even if you’re restricted to working out at home. Luckily, with the rise in popularity of indoor cycling trainers and apps such as Zwift, you too can get all the benefits of riding a bike without needing to step foot outside.

Which countries have banned cycling?

As a noted cyclist himself, it may be no surprise that Boris Johnson is keen to ensure that cycling remains an option for commuters and those in search of daily exercise. However, this hasn’t been the case in other European countries.

Spain and Italy, two of the worst-hit countries by the COVID-19 pandemic, have placed temporary bans on leisure cycling. This follows a number of postponements and cancellations to the professional cycling calendar.

What cycleGuard insurance offers

With specialist bike insurance from cycleGuard, we can protect cyclists both indoors and away from home against theft & accidental damage, as well as vandalism, fire and flood damage as standard. With over 20 years of experience covering bike owners across the UK, our cover is designed to protect commuter cyclists and those cycling indoors.

If you’re getting a bike out of the shed that hasn’t been used in a while, then our new for old cover includes bikes of all ages, so that you don’t need to worry. 

We can also insure up to £2,500 of specified cycling accessories – including your turbo trainers and indoor cycling gear (mobiles and smartphones are excluded).

Take a look at both our standard and extended policies and see what we can offer cyclists of all abilities here. Our interest-free monthly payment option means it’s easy to get the cover you want for you and your bike.