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What the new lockdown rules mean for YOU as a cyclist in England

From Thursday, you will only be allowed to ride with household members, or one person who doesn't live with you...

On Saturday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new National Restrictions that will come into effect in England at 0001 hours this Thursday 5 November to combat the rapid rise in coronavirus cases both in the UK and abroad – and as with the previous lockdown announced in March, there are implications for cycling, whether for sport, leisure or as a means of transport.

What is being widely termed a second lockdown is due to run until Wednesday 2 December, although few would be surprised if it were extended belong that, with the government underlining that “the single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home, to protect the NHS and save lives.”

Here are the essential points relating to cycling once the new rules in England kick in – until then, the government says that “the relevant Local Covid Alert Level measures will continue to apply in the area where you live.”


As with the lockdown earlier this year, outdoor exercise, including cycling, is one of the “specific purposes” for which people are allowed to leave or be outside their homes.

However, it is only permitted “with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with one person from another household (children under school age, as well as those dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside).”

That means that going for a ride in a group of up to six people, in line with the so-called “rule of six” and currently permitted in Tier 1, 2 and 3 locations, will no longer be possible.

At the moment, there does not appear to be any clarity on whether outdoor exercise will be restricted to once a day, nor whether any restrictions on distance from home will be applied – issues that may be addressed once the legislation has gone through Parliament, or in separate guidance from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

One major implication for cycling, however, is that as happened earlier in the year, it seems that it will be impossible to hold club runs and other events while adhering to the new rules


People are also allowed to leave their home “for childcare or education, where this is not provided online,” and “for work purposes, where your place of work remains open and where you cannot work from home (including if your job involves working in other people’s homes).”

As before, the government is emphasising the role that active travel can play here, saying: “If you need to travel we encourage you to walk or cycle where possible, and to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel.”

Other than for specific reasons including work and education, overnight stays and holidays, whether abroad or in the UK, are not allowed, including in a second home.


You are allowed to go “shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which should be as infrequent as possible” – and clearly, going to shops by bike is one option.

While full details are yet to be published regarding which retailers are considered essential, we would expect bike shops to be permitted to continue trading as happened in the previous lockdown, when many remained open for repairs and maintenance and the purchase of items such as inner tubes.

Essential retail businesses “should follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers” – many bike shops that remained trading during the lockdown earlier this year operated an outside queueing system with customers not allowed to physically enter the store, and we would expect to see that in operation again. 

Social distancing

In all cases, people are required to “minimise time spent outside your home and when around other people ensure that you are two metres apart from anyone not in your household or support bubble” – although as we have explained before, you’d want to give more space to anyone riding in front of you when you’re on your bike.

> How much distance should you leave to the cyclist ahead during the pandemic?

What next?

The government says that at the end of the four-week period, it will seek to return to a regional approach, based on the latest data available. Whether that will reflect the tiering system currently in place, with groups of up to six allowed to meet outdoors, is impossible to say.

The above rules apply to England only, with separate rules applying in Scotland and Wales. Later this week, we will be publishing an updated version of the article we published earlier this year that looks at the picture across all three countries, once the relevant legislation for England has passed through Parliament.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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mattsccm | 3 years ago

Usual half article from RoadCC

 Would the writer like to inform us about all the variations such as whether cyclists can cros the Welsh border either way? Doubt it.

David9694 | 3 years ago

Two things people say that I seriously struggle with 
Let's all have a last hurrah on Wednesday!! - no, don't wait for Thursday - the need to take precautions is now, and has been there all along

What can I do / not do in lock-down. 
OK, I get that some people need some of it explaining, not all of it is intuitive.  But really? 

Individualism, the thing that's stalked this land since the 1980s - "my rights, my entitlements" is a major problem for us.  

Take any bunch of public health stats - take 10,000 smokers - I can't say that that Particular cigarette on that particular day will be the one that kills you in particular, Mr Faggy McFagface, or even will take 5 years off your life expectancy - but I do know that if you all carry on,  x% of you will suffer for it, you will collectively lose y healthy years and that probably, others will have to pick up the pieces when (if) any one of the diseases you have a greater risk of does come and bite you. So it goes with Covid precautions - one careless/ unlucky  encounter with one careless/ unlucky  person. 

Finally, I don't want to catch "it" and I especially, doubly especially would prefer not to have a hospital trip wished on me because someone else can't drive properly. 

Organon | 3 years ago

I like riding my bike, and I know it is not risking spreading the virus... BUT, all this you can do this thing with one person except if that one person is having a barbeque for 15 minutes on their way to work if they cannot work at home is just mental. Other countries have been stricter and clearer on the rules and got on top of the virus. Can we not manage to have clear advise as the muppets having houseparties will continue regardless if there is ambiguity. One Head of State, One Seat in the UN, One Covid Policy, enough of this regional bollocks. Get this sorted out now.

Hirsute replied to Organon | 3 years ago
1 like

Wot ?

Who has a bbq in november ? And are they alone ?

OnTheRopes replied to Hirsute | 3 years ago
1 like

Australians? Or in fact possibly anybody in the southern hemisphere which is about 800 million people

Hirsute replied to OnTheRopes | 3 years ago

If so, a strange, context light comment to make on a topic. "What the new lockdown rules mean for YOU as a cyclist in England"

Steve K | 3 years ago

Hopefully, it will mean nice quiet roads to ride on again - the only positive from lockdown in the spring.

Hirsute replied to Steve K | 3 years ago

Not so sure about that. With schools and colleges back, there is a lot of pupil transporting. My friend's daughter is a highly vulnerable category, so she has to take her and the son by car (as he can't increase his risk of catching and passing on). NO doubt other parents take a 'just in case view'.


Steve K replied to Hirsute | 3 years ago

hirsute wrote:

Not so sure about that. With schools and colleges back, there is a lot of pupil transporting. My friend's daughter is a highly vulnerable category, so she has to take her and the son by car (as he can't increase his risk of catching and passing on). NO doubt other parents take a 'just in case view'.


Yes, I agree - though (hopefully) that's only a fairly limited bit of the day.  But I do doubt we'll see the same reduction in traffic that we did in March and April.

check12 | 3 years ago
1 like

But can i drive 45 minutes to walk my dog for 20minutes, and then 45minutes back? As was allowed, IIRC, in the previous lockdown.

Judge dreadful replied to check12 | 3 years ago

check12 wrote:

But can i drive 45 minutes to walk my dog for 20minutes, and then 45minutes back? As was allowed, IIRC, in the previous lockdown.

The official line is that "you are permitted to drive a reasonable distance for purposes of getting to a destination for exercise" which is presumably the same thing as last time. 

IanMK replied to check12 | 3 years ago
1 like

The new advice seems to be that you are allowed to travel for "exercise, if you need to make a short journey to do so". Not sure what that means in quantitative terms but they have got rid of the "reasonable distance" nonsense.

EK Spinner replied to IanMK | 3 years ago

Terms like "short journey" and "reasonable distance" make an absolute mockery of any rules and make them totally unenforceable.

They make as much sense as the highway code efering to "as much space as you would a car" "narrow or busy roads"

These terms are all open to individual interpertation and we all interperate them in the way that suits out desires.

kil0ran replied to check12 | 3 years ago

Unless they change the law (which is not going to happen), yes. All the time and distance stuff was only ever guidance in England anyway.

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