A parish council in Cheshire that put up a sign urging cyclists to stay away to avoid spreading coronavirus has taken it down after reading the comments about it on an article published here on road.cc yesterday (Saturday).
In an email sent to road.cc, Little Bollington Parish Council said:
We have read the comments on road.cc website and accept that we got it wrong. The signs in Little Bollington have now been removed. We as a community welcome anyone who wishes to visit or pass through our village. We would ask that everyone ensures they respect social distancing. We want everyone to be safe during these difficult times, villagers and visitors alike.
This article was updated at 2220 hours on 19 April 2020. The original article, published at 1527 hours on 18 April 2020, appears in full below. More on this on our live blog tomorrow.
A parish council in Cheshire has put up signs instructing cyclists to “stay in your local area” because of the coronavirus. Fully embracing misinformation, the sign then states that “infringements will be prosecuted.”
We’ve had any number of reports of overzealous community policing of cyclists in recent weeks. The latest comes from Little Bollington near Dunham Massey in Cheshire.
A road.cc reader told us they’d had a chat with the folks putting up the sign, telling them they were driving a wedge between people and that none of what is on the sign is enforceable.
“They were very angry about being challenged,” they said.
Current lockdown guidelines are that you can exercise outside. So long as you ride alone or with members of your household, cycling is very much permitted.
With regards to staying local, it’s worth pointing out that Crown Prosecution Service guidance states that it is lawful to drive somewhere to go for a walk, just so long as you spend longer exercising than driving.
Being as cycling is a form of exercise as well as a form of travel, you're surely on even safer ground.
Here’s our guide for how to be a responsible cyclist during the coronavirus pandemic.
There have been similar reports from up and down the country. (Our favourite sign is still the “Cyclists, stop panting viruses through our village” one from earlier in the week.)
The BBC reports that some residents of Bradwell in the Hope Valley are taking issue with people riding there from Sheffield, arguing they "pose a threat" to residents.
Iain Greenhalgh said: "We're living out in the Peak District, and the thing that's become apparent in this lockdown is all the groups that use it – hill walkers, trail riders, rock climbers – have stopped.
"But cyclists aren't compromising what they're doing for the health of everyone else. If you appear in the villages of the Hope Valley wearing a Sheffield cycling club shirt, you've travelled 12 miles to get here."
He added: "People travelling in from [Sheffield], with one of the highest infection rates in the country, to a rural area, poses a threat."
Responding to the comments, a spokesperson from Sheffield-based Sharrow Cycling Club said the Hope Valley was "local to our members" and that riders were "complying entirely with government guidelines on social distancing" and not riding in groups.
"We just believe many people are using the lockdown as an excuse to air their long-held grievances against cyclists, which in our case we believe to be unwarranted and unfair."
Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, said: “Working out how long we can exercise for is something of a balancing act, and we all need to strike that balance depending on the context. We should ask ourselves what is reasonable, based on where we live, where we’re seeking to exercise, how many people are likely to be there, and what time of day we are venturing outside.
“On the one hand, we are all being encouraged to go out once a day for some exercise, for the good of our physical and mental health and well-being. On the other, we are being urged to avoid unnecessary proximity to or contact with other people. We all need to use good judgement in how to get exercise in ways that minimise unnecessary travel, crowds and possible pressures on the emergency services. Think about what's reasonable.
“Cycling UK advice is to go out for long enough to keep yourself in good shape physically and emotionally but avoid doing more than this. Use common sense when planning your route. If you have a mechanical mishap that you can’t fix yourself and you’re miles from home, you may struggle to get back without asking someone else to undertake an additional journey that could have been avoided if you’d planned a circular route close to home.”