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Cycling in Wales restricted to walking distance

Peter Stuart
24 Apr 2020

Cycling 'significant distances' for exercise not considered a reasonable excuse to leave home in Wales

Cycling for exercise in Wales has been restricted to rides that are within reasonable walking distance, as the Welsh Government publishes new official guidance that prohibits long bike rides for leisure and exercise.

'Cycling should be local, as a rule of thumb limited to travelling no further than a reasonable walking distance from home,' the new guidance states.

Focussing more specifically on the leisure cycling community, the guidance further states, 'Exercising by cycling significant distances from home is not considered to be a reasonable excuse for leaving home.'

The guidance suggested the reasoning behind the new advice to be based on the possible burden on health services of an accident while cycling.

'An accident or a breakdown far from home would place additional strain on health services or require a further journey to be made by someone else to provide assistance,' the guidance stated.

Distance debates

The clarification comes two weeks after an article in the Sunday Times highlighted several riders covering considerable distances, with one recorded ride during lockdown stretching out to 339.5km (211 miles).

This saw Cycling UK head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore argue, 'This isn’t the time for people to be attempting epic challenges or seeing how many miles they can rack up.'

Elsewhere, there has been targeted hostility toward cyclists riding more reasonable distances. Makeshift signposts discouraging cyclists from travelling through villages in Cambridge have been widely reported over the last few weeks.

The new guidance from the Welsh Assembly also clarifies advice on driving to locations for exercise, with the guidance stating, 'In general this should not involve people driving to a location away from home for this purpose.'

Cycling for leisure has been strictly prohibited in Spain, Italy and France as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, but the UK Government has thus-far defended the benefits of cycling for exercise.

During a TV interview, Government minister Michael Gove proposed that between half an hour and an hour would be an appropriate distance to cycle, but added, ‘Obviously it depends on each individual’s fitness.’

Cyclist has argued that cycling for duration up to roughly one hour represents a responsible interpretation of government's advice.

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