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France latest country to ban recreational cycling

Peter Stuart
20 Mar 2020

Joining Italy and Spain, France has prohibited recreational cycling and is issuing fines via Strava for non-compliance

Story updated 23rd March

Cycling for sport, leisure and physical exercise is now entirely prohibited in France, as the French Cycling Federation clarifies its intepretation of official government guidance.

Making an announcement on Twitter, the Fédération Française de Cyclisme announced that cycling for sport or exercise purposes is 'momentanement proscrite' – temporarily prohibited – in order to comply with the official governmental guidance.

French authorities issued official guidance on all travel on Tuesday, all of which now requires certification ('attestation de déplacement dérogatoire') proving the reason behind the journey.

As far as leisure cycling is concerned, the form suggests all physical exercise must follow the following criteria:

'Déplacements brefs, à proximité du domicile, liés à l'activité physique individuelle des personnes, à l’exclusion de toute pratique sportive collective, et aux besoins des animaux de compagnie.'

By specifying the need for brevity, and proximity to one’s home ('brefs, à proximité du domicile'), the measures have effectively excluded most riders from normal training or leisure rides. While there was some ambiguity to the restrictions, the FFC's announcement clarifies that sport and recreational cycling are effectively banned.

The measures are similar to those taken in Spain and Italy, which have both put heavy restrictions on all cycling, with Spain effectively banning leisure cycling and some degree of utility cycling.

Speaking on Twitter, Nice-based clothing brand Cafe du Cycliste explained, 'Police are likely to take a dim view of someone found at the top of Mont Ventoux. In the case a cyclist were to fall and require medical assistance - it would be deemed to have been avoidable.'

Another France-based cyclist shared his requirements to go out for a run, which included carrying the official documentation as well as his passport.

Strava fines (or fakes?)

For those that are flouting the rules in more remote areas where enforcement may be difficult, stories circulated that French police had taken to Strava to directly warn users against further riding.

In a picture posted to Twitter, the national police appeared to have reprimanded a cyclist following an anonymous tip, and demanded a 135 euro fine for breaching the current confinement laws.

It later emerged that the story was untrue, as the French newspaper 20 minutes uncovered. The account used to pose as the police was false, and the French police confirmed they did not operate an account on Strava.

Knock-on effect

As well as affecting health and fitness amongst cyclists, the measures to curtail outdoors cycling have put limitations on the training efforts of pro cyclists, as Harry Tanfield explained to us several days ago.

The UK is yet to form an official policy on whether cycling will be permitted during a lockdown scenario.

Many charities and cycling bodies have stressed the need to preserve cycling for transport and fitness, while Cycling UK has called for all group rides to be cancelled to reduce the risk of infection.

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