A cyclist in Italy has posted a bizarre video to YouTube showing him arguing with police officers who stopped him for violating a ban on riding bikes due to the coronavirus outbreak, telling them he did not consider himself subject to the country’s laws. Meanwhile, a video in Spain shows a police officer apparently shoving an English speaking cyclist, telling him he wasn’t allowed to be out in the street due to the country being in lockdown.
Italy and Spain are the two European countries currently worst affected by coronavirus, with 1,809 and 288 deaths recorded so far.
The cyclist in Italy was stopped by police in Trento in the north east of the country, and when asked to produce documents, produced a self-certificate which according to the newspaper La Voce del Bolzano had been “compiled in an entirely anomalous manner.”
Under emergency laws now in force, it is strictly forbidden to ride racing bikes in Italy, even on one’s own.
He told the officers: “I am a subject of international law. I do not speak to strangers and I do not know your uniforms. Identify yourselves.
“I am my own legal representative, I defend myself,” he continued. “I am not a citizen subject to the Italian state.”
Referring to the emergency legislation brought in to try and restrict the spread of coronavirus as well as ease pressure on the emergency services, he added: “This decree is a hoax and I do not accept it.”
He also accused the officers – who managed to keep calm throughout – of abusing their powers and of false imprisonment.
Unsurprisingly, he was taken to the city’s main police station and has been reported for violating the decree.
On Spain, a clip has emerged on social media showing a local police officer apparently grabbing an English-speaking cyclist riding a bike in Marbella.
According to the news website The Olive Press, the clip was shot in the Costa del Sol city yesterday.
One of the officers from the Policia Local can be heard shouting at the rider, “You cannot be on the street!”
Meanwhile, one road.cc reader who is on a cycling break in Mallorca, which is hugely popular at this time of the year with riders from the UK and elsewhere looking to get fit ahead of the new season, told us of his experience yesterday as the restrictions came into force.
Terry Hunt said that he was stopped by police and told to return to his hotel or risk facing a €1,000 fine.
“I suppose the atmosphere is best described as one of disappointment, but also people understand why,” he said.
“Yesterday, morning (Sunday), there seemed a lot of confusion as to whether we could go out riding, no-one could give us a straight answer. Some people decided not to risk it, others did, including myself and a few people I met here.
“Our ride for the day was to the lighthouse at the Cap de Formentor. We managed 2.5 miles before some other cyclists warned us about a road block ahead, so we decided to turn back and try a different route.
“Another two miles later and we were stopped by the police (they were stopping everyone on bikes including locals) and were asked to return to our hotel.
“A quick stop at the supermarket for some snacks and then we were at the poolside, luckily the sun was shining yesterday.
“One group from the UK who are staying at the same hotel did venture out and got a full day's riding in.
“In the end, the hotel advised we could only leave to go to a supermarket or pharmacy,” he added. “All bars and restaurants are closed.”
News emerging from France, where President Macron is due to address the nation on live TV at 8pm this evening, is that similar restrictions will be put in place there.
Among other things will extinguish any lingering hopes ASO may have had of Paris-Roubaix being run next month.
France is the third worst affected country on the continent, with 120 deaths recorded so far.
The UK has confirmed 35 deaths so far, with that number expected to increase sharply as has happened elsewhere, and pressure is mounting on the government to introduce restrictions on movement similar to those in force in other countries.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.