Cycling during the Covid-19 lockdown: 4 key rules
Cycling and the Covid-19 lockdown – 4 key rules
by Michael Tritt, Founder Electrify NZ
For those wondering whether you can ride your bike during the Covid-19 lockdown, the answer according to current Government advice is yes, provided you stick to the rules.
For many essential workers, their bike is their “vehicle” and of course they can keep using their bike to get to and from work.
For those of us using bikes to get fresh air and exercise, the official guidance is pretty clear:
“Personal walks and other active travel like cycling or scootering, is fine, provided you keep a 2-metre distance from anybody outside of your household. Stick to simple outdoor exercise and avoid areas where you can get injured or lost.”
So, whether you’re on a regular bike or e-bike, the four key rules are:
1. Keep two metres distance from people outside your “bubble” at all times
2. Only ride with people inside your “bubble”
3. Stay in your neighbourhood
4. Avoid high risk forms of cycling
Ride alone or in your "bubble" only
So that means some types of cycling are off limits right now – meeting up with your friends for a group ride is out (even if you think you can maintain a two-metre distance, if they are not in your “bubble” you can’t arrange to meet up in public – or anywhere else). And although mountain biking has not been specifically identified in Government advice, it would logically fall into the same category as surfing or kayaking – disallowed due to the potential for injury. Our health and emergency services don’t need the added burden and associated risks right now.
Of course, there are also public health reasons why going for a regular bike ride during the lockdown is a good idea. Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the Director General of Health, has been an advocate of cycling, and for good reason.
Evidence shows regular cycling reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes and many types of cancer.
Personally, I believe that a major reason I’ve scarcely troubled the New Zealand health system in my middle-age is the 20km of riding I do nearly every day on my e-bike.
Bikes (whether ‘e’ or regular) form an important part of many other people’s exercise routine, and by keeping up exercise routines, we can reduce our chances of burdening health services. Our mental wellbeing is also inextricably linked to regular exercise, fresh air and Vitamin D exposure.
Of course, our cycling routines may need to change to adapt to the lockdown. My 10km each-way commute to the CBD is out, and has been replaced with a 5km round trip (with my family “bubble”) from our house to the summit of our local maunga in Mt. Roskill.
The electrical assistance gets switched down or off, to maximise the exercise benefit, given the limited distance.
We’ve also had to adapt the route since the lockdown. Our first excursion to a nearby park with shared paths revealed the park to be very busy with other riders, joggers and pedestrians - and at times this meant it was challenging to keep a two-metre separation at all times.
So we instead took to what is normally a fairly cycle-unfriendly section of Dominion Road to find it blissfully quiet. The streets have actually never been safer for riding than they are right now. In this crisis we are seeing glimpses of what a more positive future might look like.
We will all be grateful when things can return to some kind of normality, but let’s take the opportunity to consider which parts of “normal” are worth keeping. Cleaner air and streets which are safer for active transportation and exercise are surely worthy goals, for our own health and that of the wider world.