March 2020
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Covid-19 cycling advice & info

We hope you are keeping well – and following government instructions. This posting includes reliable sources of information and advice for people who get about by bike, as well as links to articles on relevant policy issues including speed limits, pollution and how government should treat cycling during the pandemic.

BIKE SHOPS

Under the lockdown which began on 23 March, bike shops are classifed as “essential premises” and are expected to remain open (but, like all open premises, must take the specified contact precautions).

Edinburgh Festival of Cycling has produced this map showing which Edinburgh bike shops are open. Many thanks to the shops, their staff and to EdFoC for the map! Note that these shops may have changed opening hours and rules for entry, etc, so it may be worth checking with the shop before going there. On the map, yellow=open, red=closed.

DON’T CYCLE IN GROUPS – AND STAY LOCAL

As discussed in some of the links later, being able to cycle is a critical route to maintain physical and mental wellbeing. Government advice is ‘You can go for a walk or exercise outdoors if you stay more than 2 metres from others.’ However if this is not widely observed there is a risk that cycling could be banned (except perhaps for key-worker commuting etc) as has happened already in some other countries – see later.

Scotland’s Active Travel Commissioner, Lee Craigie, says…

Please, please, please keep your distance from one another when walking or cycling. Exercising outdoors is an essential lifeline for the population right now but could be taken away from us if we walk, run or ride in groups.”

Following the outbreak of people driving long distances to open-air tourist hotspots, resulting in crowded conditions and lots of petrol station mixing, the government has added, “stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily.” What is ‘local’ and what this means for solo circular bike rides starting and ending at home is unclear.

OTHER CYCLING ADVICE & HELP

Cycling UK has provided this article advising people who use a bike. Is it ok to cycle ..if over 70? ..with kids? ..if a cough? ..a chronic condition? ..etc. The article will be updated as and when necessary.

If you’re not used to cycling alone, remember you can get great ideas in your local area from Spokes maps – available at most local bike shops and by post from Spokes [orders may take longer than usual]. Latest news on Spokes maps here including a special advance-order offer for our forthcoming new Midlothian map.

GENERAL COVID-19 ADVICE

For more general advice, go to the official sites and don’t rely on the widespread ‘homespun’ advice on facebook and other social media. Although this often claims to come from ‘experts,’ ‘doctors,’ etc, and may sound convincing, it can be very misleading.

Reputable sources of information include…

SCAMS & MISINFORMATION
  • The WHO site also includes a scam alert – unscrupulous people are pretending to be from WHO or other official bodies – for example seeking ‘donations’ for fake coronavirus charities
  • There is also a BBC article on Coronvirus scams
  • A fascinating Wikipedia page about misinformation on the pandemic. Also an article explaining how the page is updated – concluding that whilst Twitter and Facebook need only a second to spread false news, and it’s a monster task to remove, yet on Wikipedia falsehoods are harder to add/spread but are quick and easy to remove.
CYCLING POLICY ISSUES RAISED BY THE PANDEMIC
  • SHOULD CYCLING BE ENCOURAGED OR BANNED DURING THE PANDEMIC?
  • SHOULD SPEED LIMITS BE REDUCED DURING THE PANDEMIC?
    • British Medical Journal opinion article calls for reduced speed limits (20mph urban, 50mph national) to lower pressures on NHS. England alone suffers 100 hospital admissions a day due to road crashes
  • SHOULD STREETS/LANES BE CONVERTED TO CYCLE/PED ONLY?
    • Closing streets/lanes to create more cycle/pedestrian space. Aims include – enabling better spatial distancing; encouraging bike/foot travel by creating safer/pleasanter conditions. Article from Car and Driver. Crowd-sourced schemes database [Note: some of the database entries are proposals by local groups, not implemented schemes: being crowd-sourced it is not entirely clear]
POLLUTION FALLS AS VIRUS RISES

A BBC report [19.3.20] shows how CO2, NO2 and CO pollution are falling drastically as car traffic and other fossil fuel use shrinks in cities and countries around the world.

Will this reduction continue? After the 2008 financial crisis, government support for economies boosted fossil fuel use and caused increased CO2 emissions. After the present virus crisis, governments will be strongly tempted to do the same – but they could alternatively direct increased support to industries which contribute to more sustainable ways of travelling and living. Pressure is needed to encourage this outcome.

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