COVID-19 – Should we be riding again? OPINION
We’ve been asked a few times recently whether we should be encouraging people to ride again, or not. Unfortunately, it’s not a straightforward answer. On the one hand, the government are trying to get the country back to work (and slowly back to normal) again. On the other hand, there’s still an invisible mass killer on the loose. A killer that slaughtered another 556 people yesterday alone in the UK (although government figures showed 111).
COVID-19 has certainly turned the world upside down since I wrote an Opinion piece about it on March 10th. Back then just six people in the UK had died from it – Italy and Spain were hogging the headlines.
Thirteen days later the United Kingdom was put into lockdown, a very sensible (if a month too late) measure. The death toll had increased to a total of just 335 by then. Just over two months later we’re heading towards 40,000 deaths in the UK (39,045 as of yesterday) and we’re second behind the USA on total COVID-19 deaths. Yet restrictions are being lifted, people are being encouraged to go back to work, schools have been told to reopen, fast food outlets are reopening and many ‘non-essential’ shops are also open again. One of those schools in Derby has already been forced to close after seven members of staff tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday.
This graph is probably one of the best examples to show how COVID-19 has ravaged the world in 2020. Quite a frightening graphic illustration.
300 deaths per day
In the UK we’re still losing on average around 300 people per day to this virus (depending on which figures you believe). That’s a lot of friends, family members, mums, dads, uncles, brothers and sisters grieving. There’s no doubt this is a very serious virus with no cure or vaccination.
Is it any less serious than it was when we were put into lockdown? It’s still killing more now than it was back then and infection rates are hardly under control (although lots more people are able to be tested for it now). Moderately, since it’s peak in late April the figures are heading slowly in the right direction – if you believe the spiel regurgitated at the daily briefing. Although the figures are massaged to suit the government’s own agenda, (or to help deflect away from controversy). Now the NHS has been saved from overload it seems it’s not a problem to send people out to be infected. Herd immunity is currently the only vaccine.
Ride to work?
Grant Shapps, Minister for Transport, warned commuters to try and avoid public transport when lockdown measures were relaxed and people were urged to go back to work. He advised people to walk or cycle. He even encouraged people to use an illegal eScooter (although he promised to rush through some legislation for their use). Despite them causing congestion and further damaging the environment as they sit in traffic, he also asked people to use a single-occupancy car. He failed to mention that scooters and bikes are the best way (as we covered here) to self-isolate and commute if you have a few miles to travel.
Of course you should ride to work if it’s safe and convenient for you. Just because the government neglects one of the best forms of self-isolating transport doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. Get on your scooter and ride to work, keep yourself socially distanced and make your commute much happier. If you’ve just enjoyed 10 weeks on furlough you may need something to look forward to in the morning.
Can we ride to the seaside?
This is where things get a little trickier. ‘Non-essential journeys’ are now permitted and you can ride as far as you like for fun – as long as you can get home again the same night. This only applies to England.
Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have their own local rules and you shouldn’t visit those countries from England just because you fancy a long ride.
Remember though that many popular beauty spots, seaside towns, and tourist traps still don’t want an influx of visitors. Lots of local public toilets, cafes and car parks are closed to discourage people from visiting. Would you want thousands of extra people turning up on your doorstep at the moment?
The guidance states that YOU CAN travel with people from outside your own household as long as social distancing is adhered to, with cycling being given as an example. In theory, there’s no harm going for a ride out by scooter with your mates, although common sense should prevail and you’re only allowed to meet up with up to six people in outdoor spaces.
You can’t do a group ride out of more than six people and when you are off the scooter you still need to maintain good social distancing.
How about group/club ride outs?
Six people isn’t a group of 30 scooters unfortunately so choose your riding companions carefully if you want to stick to the guidance. You can still meet a few mates, go for a decent ride and have a laugh as long as you keep good social distance and your group is no more than six strong.
You should also avoid meeting up at (or going to) popular bike meeting places – like Matlock for instance, as the police have powers to break up gatherings. ‘Accidentally’ meeting up with 300 other scooters on a Wednesday night is currently forbidden, sorry.
Riding out alone, or with a few friends isn’t likely to put you at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. In fact, you’re pretty safe whilst wearing a helmet, visor and probably, a scarf (or snood) and gloves. It’s no doubt much less dangerous than visiting a supermarket or going to a place of work where lots of people are forced to interact. It’s certainly less risky than packing on to a tube train.
Take a common-sense approach to riding by adhering to the guidelines and by not interpreting them to your own requirements. This will help you to ‘do your bit’ to minimise the rate of infection and not to tar the good name of Scooterists with the general public. We’re all missing riding, especially with the fantastic weather we’ve had but try not to get carried away too soon.
We all have a responsibility to do the right thing. One day this will all be over, we’ll have some normality back and be able to socialise and ride scooters where and when we want, with as many people as we want. Until then let’s not get too hasty and be part of causing a second spike that will inevitably see tighter lockdown restrictions, more deaths, and more financial misery with unseen levels of unemployment and a colossal recession.
Stay safe and be sensible
SLUK Shop – always socially distant but never impersonal