There is no doubt that these are challenging and very unsettling times which, for the majority of us, are unprecedented. The current outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus, a pandemic, is changing the way we live our lives immensely.
On 16 March 2020, the government produced guidelines on COVID-19 with the advise that all ‘non-essential’ activities, especially in London, should be avoided. The London Cycling Campaign suspended all face-to-face LCC activities with immediate effect and until further notice.
Two days later, on 18 March, the Prime Minister announced that schools would close after gates shut on 20 March (Boris Johnson announces UK school to close, BBC, 18 March 2020).
Then, on Monday evening (23 March 2020), the Prime Minister’s update went further, with three new measures:
- Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
- Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
- Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public
We all recognise that we are all in this together, and we all need to get through this together. ‘Stay Home to Protect the NHS and Save Lives’ is the message.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do (as of 26 March 2020 – check updates at GOV.UK/coronavirus)
- Stay at home
- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
- Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
Exercise (safely) if you can….
For those not self isolating, going out for a short period of exercise once a day (provided you keep your distance from others) is still very much recommended (as of 26 March – check GOV.UK/coronavirus to ensure remains valid).
Cycling is clearly a very good form of exercise. In support of this, LCC has published a useful guide on tips for those returning to the cycling after a break, see Cycling to avoid Coronavirus?
(Monday to Friday 09:30-17:30 | Phone: 020 7234 9310 (option 0) | firstname.lastname@example.org | If you make contact out of hours. LCC will respond on the next working day)
Images courtesy of Alistair Hall (@alistairhall) and LCC (@london_cycling)
….enjoy your neighbourhood (safely) if you can…
If you have been out for a walk, jog or cycle in recent days, you almost certainly would have noticed a reduction in vehicles in residential areas. Many of the streets feel so much more welcoming as a result. All made better still by the recent sunny days, the sound of birds singing as the lighter days arrive, and how people acknowledge each other (from a distance) when passing. It almost seems as though low traffic neighbourhoods are being trialled – although, of course, it would have been better to have trialled low traffic neighbourhoods with a healthy population rather the under the current circumstances. Perhaps, as people notice and appreciate the difference, that is something that will be made easier to do when we get through this crisis. We hope so.
… and look towards the future with hope
In looking to the future, even in the situation that we currently find ourselves, it’s important to remember the ongoing climate emergency. Yes, that is something that will be difficult in the coming months. But, with the main priority being to get back to normal, perhaps there has never been a better time to consider what that ‘normal’ actually is. There is the ‘immediate future’, and then there is the ‘future future’.
That is why the LCC’s launch of the Climate Safe Streets Report last week (19 March 2020) is as critical now as it would have been had the Mayoral and London Assembly elections still been taking place in May 2020, rather than in May 2021.
Climate Safe Streets Report (London Cycling Campaign, 19 March 2020)
Remember too, that Sutton Council declared a climate emergency on 23 September 2019 (Sutton Council declares Climate Change Emergency, LB of Sutton, September 2019) and that, in support of this, a Climate Emergency Survey is open until 31 March.
A selection of reading that has caught our eye
During the next few weeks, we will update and add some links to cycling and active travel articles to this post. Articles that catch our eye and which, for the most part, will undoubtably reflect our campaigning ethos.
We hope you find them of interest. Let us know if you find any other articles for sharing here.
There’s no better time for cities to take space away from cars (The Verge, 23 March 2020) The coronavirus pandemic presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for cities to remake their streets by taking space away from cars and giving it to pedestrians and bicyclists — permanently.
Toronto, Vancouver look into closing roads to create space for social distancing (The Globe and Mail, 25 March 2020) Two of Canada’s most densely populated cities are looking at barring auto traffic from parts of their streets so pedestrians can spread out and maintain the proper distance from each other.
In a Global Health Emergency, the Bicycle Shines (CityLab, 25 March 2020) As the coronavirus crisis forces changes in transportation, some cities are building bike lanes and protecting cycling shops. Here’s why that makes sense.
Cities after coronavirus: how Covid-19 could radically alter urban use (The Guardian, 26 March 2020) Pandemics have always shaped cities – and from increased surveillance to ‘de-densification’ to new community activism, Covid-19 is doing it already.
These are tough times but, by following the government’s advice, we will ride through them together. Stay well, and “Thank you” to everyone at the NHS and to all our essential workers.
v1: 26.03.2020; v1-1 26.03.2020.