Cycling can help us all stay healthy, boost our immune systems and lift our spirits during the Coronavirus outbreak. Staying safe is imperative but we can – and should! – keep cycling. The physical and mental benefits of getting out on our bikes are well documented and, as long as we follow Government guidelines about physical distancing and personal hygiene, it’s still safe to cycle.
Staying fit and healthy will be a key part of fighting Coronavirus and cycling is a great form of exercise for people of all abilities. When you cycle, your heart, blood vessels and lungs all get a workout; you breathe more deeply and experience increased body temperature. In other words, regular cycling means better cardiovascular fitness. 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise on a bike each day also reduces stress levels and the associated hormone, cortisol, which helps to strengthen your immune system.
While we are all staying at home far more than usual, many of us may be feeling lonely and disconnected from our communities. Although we can’t ride in groups, we can ride responsibly to remain active, get fresh air and stay connected with the world around us. This means riding alone or only with people in our households, keeping two metres apart from anyone we meet and stopping and waiting for people to pass when necessary. We should also take extra care to keep rides within our ability levels in order to avoid injury while our health service is under additional pressure. If we are careful, then we can cycle to combat cabin fever and enjoy our outdoor environments.
Many of us use cycling simply as a way of getting from A-to-B and you can still travel by bike to shops, pharmacies and places of work which are essential. If your time is especially pressured at the moment, with children at home and work limiting opportunities to exercise, consider planning a slightly longer route to work so that you can keep fit.
If you’re looking to try some new routes, consider using Cyclestreets. It’s a journey planner specifically for cyclists which is currently looking for people who can test out routes and give feedback. You would not only be helping to create an excellent resource for cyclists but might also find new ways to get around Cambridge.
If you’re in self-isolation and riding isn’t possible at the moment, then there’s plenty of related literature. Camcycle’s quarterly magazine is full of great content for you to read (and you can view past editions here). You could also clean your bike and do those little bike maintenance jobs you’ve been meaning to…
Despite the pandemic, we have reasons to be optimistic. The benefits of cycling are recognised in the Government’s response and, as long as people cycle responsibly, we are hopeful that the Government will not have to implement any additional control measures which might limit cycling and the repair services which support it. Additionally, the current reduction in motorised traffic could indicate the start of new normals as we seek to tackle climate change: the Government has published its De-Carbonising Transport consultation which places public transport and active travel at the forefront of its vision. The promotion of cycling may well inspire more people in our local community to start riding. If you hear of people who want to cycle but think they don’t have the knowledge, confidence or ability to ride yet, then direct them towards Camcycle for friendly support and encouragement.
Ride responsibly while you are well – cycle alone or with members of your household, practise physical distancing and good hygiene
Cycle some new routes – get your maps out or try using Cyclestreets
Look after your bike! – do some bike maintenance (and remember that bike shops are still open to help)
Encourage others to ride – stay informed about how Coronavirus is affecting cycling and tell people about Camcycle
Links to further reading:
FAQs from Cycling UK and British Cycling
Cycling UK advice for families riding during the Coronavirus outbreak
Bicycle Association’s collation of resources from the cycle industry, policy, and academic and media resources around the role of cycling during the coronavirus outbreak. Updated frequently.