Our Chief Executive, Julie Harrington, has today joined the Chief Executive of Cycling UK to publish an open letter calling for an end to hostility towards cyclists. This follows a spate of incidents in recent weeks where cyclists have been targeted with hostile roadside signs, tacks on the ground and aggressive behaviour from drivers.
In the letter the two organisations urge the public to show “tolerance, warmth and care” to cyclists, many of whom are riding their bikes to provide vital services in the community at this time.
Julie Harrington and Pete Fitzboydon (Interim Chief Executive, Cycling UK) write:
“The Government’s guidance since the beginning of the lockdown has continued to encourage cycling for daily exercise, in recognition of the substantial physical and mental health benefits it provides to the many millions of people taking part. There is no trusted evidence to suggest that cyclists are any more likely to spread the disease than runners and walkers, if they follow the social distancing requirements.
“Far from being the villains in this story, we have been inundated with examples of clubs and groups who have gone above and beyond to support their communities during the crisis – whether that’s delivering prescriptions in Banbury, raising money for hospices in Crawley or helping to feed families in Inverness. It is deeply upsetting that these same cyclists are being met with such hostility in the process.”
A recent poll of almost 5,000 British Cycling members found that three quarters believe that their experience of cycling on the road has improved since the Government’s lockdown measures were first introduced on March 23rd, with just 5% reporting that their experience had got worse.
Despite this, a reported increase in vehicle speed due to quieter roads and a perception that cyclists are contributing to the spread of the disease has led many to feel increasingly threatened and unwelcome. In recent weeks cyclists in Somerset have reported that drawing pins have been purposely been placed on roads, while signs urging cyclists to ‘stay away’ have been erected in Cambridgeshire, Cheshire and Powys.
Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Nottingham, said:
“Cycling is an excellent form of exercise and there is no compelling scientific evidence that cycling poses any more risk for transmission of the virus provided social distancing measures are sensibly applied.”
Both British Cycling and Cycling UK have regularly communicated the need for cyclists to ride responsibly at this time, in particular emphasising that cyclists should only ride alone or with those they live with, and never in groups.
Harrington and Fitzboydon add:
“While our organisations will continue to stress the need for responsible riding for as long as is required, we also ask the public to show tolerance, warmth and care towards the overwhelming majority who continue to do so.”