Most people believe that Boris Johnson’s bike ride in the Olympic Park earlier this month has made it more difficult for police to enforce lockdown restrictions, according to a survey from YouGov – but a separate poll from the same firm found a majority of those who expressed an opinion say that thet did not think he had broken the law.
The story made headline news last week, with many outlets pointing towards government advice for England which state that exercise, including cycling, “should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area” – although the regulations themselves, which unlike the guidance carry the force of law, make no such distinction.
In a survey of 1,566 adults in England and Wales carried out last Wednesday and Thursday, opinion polling firm YouGov asked:
Boris Johnson travelled seven miles from Downing Street to go for a bike ride at the weekend. Regardless of whether you think this does or does not bend or break COVID-19 rules, do you think what Boris Johnson did makes it harder for police to enforce the rules, or doesn’t it make any difference?
Almost two thirds of respondents, 63 per cent, agreed that it made the police’s job more difficult, with 36 per cent saying it made it “much harder” and 27 per cent saying it made it “a little harder.”
Around a third, 32 per cent, believed it did not “really make any difference to the enforcement of the rules,” while 6 per cent expressed no opinion.
Labour voters (47 per cent), people who voted Remain in the 2016 EU referendum (44 per cent) and women (40 per cent)were most likely to agree that it had made police officers’ enforcement of the rules much harder.
Downing Street would not confirm whether the Prime Minister had ridden from Westminster to the park in Stratford under his own steam, or if he had been travelled there in a car.
However, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said that she believed he had not broken the law.
A separate poll by YouGov, conducted among 1,692 adults across Great Britain for The Sun on Sunday, with fieldwork carried out last Thursday and Friday, referred to the bike ride and asked, “So far as you know, do you think this was or was not acceptable under the coronavirus lockdown rules?”
Just under half of respondents, 48 per cent, said that it was acceptable, while 38 per cent said it was not and 13 per cent expressed no opinion.
Conservative voters (65 per cent) and those who voted Leave in 2016 (59 per cent) were most likely to view the bike ride as acceptable, while Labour voters (54 per cent) and people living in Scotland (47 per cent) should the highest agreement with it not being acceptable.
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.