Important Covid-19 Cycling Advice

Social distancing graphicThe Chester Cycling Campaign welcomes those who are taking to their bikes for their daily exercise during the coronavirus lockdown. However, we encourage everyone who cycles during this time to practise social distancing and to follow the best available advice regarding how to keep yourself and others safe.

Joint Guidance Letter

Jointly with Cheshire West and Chester Council, the Chester Cycling Campaign and other local cycling clubs and organisations, have  issued guidance to local cyclists with regard to cycling during the coronavirus lockdown.  We urge all local cyclists to familiarise themselves with this advice:

CWAC and Chester Cycling Groups Joint Coronavirus Cycling Advice

Campaign’s Covid-19 Cycling Recommendations

Local cyclists need to be aware that the Millennium Greenway has been particularly busy with those out taking exercise during the lockdown. In the middle sections of this route it may be very difficult to adhere to the recommended 2 metre social distancing rules. There have also been reports of groups of cyclists using the Greenway contrary to government advice. If you continue to cycle during this time, then the Cycling Campaign urges you to:

  • Maintain at least a 2 metre distance from other cyclists, pedestrians, and dog walkers at all times, dismounting if necessary to ensure that everyone can pass one another safely (but note research cited below )
  • Cycle from home only – refrain from using your car to transport your bike to Delamere Forest, Snowdonia, Coed Llandegla or other popular outdoor locations
  • Avoid cycling in groups – only cycle alone or with one other member of your immediate household
  • Avoid cycling to any local cyclists’ cafe as they are all currently closed
  • Cycle only for a reasonable length of time, as the longer you are out, the more you are putting yourself and others at risk
  • Take particular care along the canal towpath or, better still, avoid the towpath completely – it is very busy and not wide enough to allow appropriate social distancing from others
  • Some shared use paths alongside local roads have been very busy – in some cases it may be safer (from a coronavirus point of view) to cycle in the road itself as there is very little traffic at present

Belgian-Dutch Study Suggests Greater Distancing Necessary When Cycling

Bear in mind that any person you encounter on your ride could be a symptomatic or asymptomatic carrier of the virus.  A recent Belgian-Dutch study suggests that 10 to 20 metres might be a safer distance to allow between those out exercising during the pandemic. This is because of the potential effects of ‘breath trails’ in the slipstream of cyclists or runners.  It is possible that exhaled air in the slipstream could contain the virus in suspended droplets. The research suggests a social distance of 10 metres when following a slow cyclist, or 20 metres when in the slipstream of a fast cyclist.

This is not to suggest that we should be terrified of outdoor exercise during the pandemic. Physical exercise is helpful in supporting the immune system, and this must be balanced against any risks involved. Also, the suggested social distances are likely to be very difficult to achieve on many local cycle routes. Nevertheless, this research does suggest that there may be a need for us to err on the side of caution and not take too many risks when out on our bikes.

Below is a link to an article summarising the research:

Belgian-Dutch Study on Safe Distancing

Cycling UK’s Excellent Covid-19 Q&A Web Page

Very detailed advice is also available from Cycling UK who have published a excellent Q&A on their website. This advice covers questions such as:

  • I’m a healthy cyclist over the age of 70. Is it safe for me to continue cycling?
  • I’m a cyclist with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or COPD. Is it safe for me to continue cycling?
  • I’m a cyclist who is currently unwell with a new continuous cough or fever. Is it safe for me to continue cycling?
  • I have been in physical contact / close proximity recently with friends or relatives with symptoms who are self-isolating, but I don’t live in the same household as them. Is it safe for me to continue cycling?
  • I have been in physical contact / close proximity recently with friends or relatives with symptoms who are self-isolating, and I live in the same household as them. Is it safe for me to continue cycling?

The full FAQ is available using the link below:

Cycling UK Coronavirus Q&A

Enjoy your rides, and keep yourself and others safe!



  1. When passing other users of a shared use path or roadway,just turn your head away from them,it stops air bourne particles moving from one to another,and dog walkers keep your dog under control as they may well injure themselves or a cyclist or walker and put an extra strain on the NHS and Vets at this time.

    The roads may be quieter at the current time but with more speed freaks with no concern for other users safety out there,just beware,they may not be insured,be under the influence of drink and drugs,so you may well feel its safer to use designated cycle routes, or quieter roads.

    Just share the space,slow down,and look away.

    • Avoiding the canal towpath is very sensible advice. It is almost impossible for pedestrians to pass at 2m distance and hence for cyclists even if they dismount.

      Personally I have always avoided shared paths unless they are very quiet. The risk of accidents, although mainly minor, is extremely high and the statistics support this. Pedestrians, particularly children, and dogs are too likely to move across your path unexpectedly. The general recommendation therefore is that cyclists travelling faster than about 15mph should use the road instead. At least most vehicles behave predictably and give signals, although I agree there are a few who drive dangerously.

      Social distancing is again virtually impossible on most shared paths. There is only one serious accident for every 1 million miles on roads and hence the risk of catching COVID and becoming seriously ill due to failure to socially distance on a shared path or towpath seems much greater.

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