Can running and cycling spread Covid-19?

Date published: 24 April 2020


Given that we’ve seen a huge reduction in car-use, and a huge increase in jogging and cycling, if the government is true to its word:“At each point we have been following scientific and medical advice, and we have been deliberate in our actions, taking the right steps at the right time”, then the nation should be informed about the recent study carried out by a Belgian-Dutch research team.

A 12-page report, it advises runners and cyclists that, ‘they should take extra care while passing others on the road, warning them that respiratory droplets that could potentially contain the novel coronavirus might spread further than the 6 feet buffer recommended by public health officials’.

In short: ‘65 feet is needed when riding a bike at 18mph, 33 feet while running at a 6:44 minutes-per-mile pace, or 16 feet while walking at a normal pace.’

Also, a study by Highways England has found: ‘Sadly, with the declining volume of traffic we have also noted an increase in speeds on the strategic road network.

The latter has resulted in London Assembly/Green Party Member, Caroline Russel, writing to transport secretary Grant Shapps, calling for the default national speed limit to be cut to 50mph and the default urban speed limit to 20mph.

Prior to Covid-19, (age, 71) I cycled pretty much every day: occasionally for shopping and medical needs, but four days a week, (from 50 to 100 miles, with other 70+ passionate cyclists, some in cancer remission), for exercise and friendship.

Now, to adhere to the instruction, ‘Stay 2-metres Apart’, because there are ‘no-end’ of parked cars, dogs on extended leads, potholes, walkers, and joggers, I often have to ride in the middle of the road.

As a consequence, I’ve had drivers blast their horn, and ‘skim’ me at (terrifying) excessive speeds.

In 1997, with a view to eradicating road death/serious injury, the Swedish government approved Vision Zero: ‘A multi-national road traffic safety project it aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities/serious injuries.’

A core principle is, 'Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society', where a monetary value is placed on life and health, and then that value is used to decide how much is spent on a road network towards the benefit of decreasing risk.’

Since winning WW2, the global death toll, due to lawless driving, exceeds 70 million.

Not to mention deaths from air pollution!

Accordingly, if the government doesn’t use speed limiters (the best of technology) to eradicate speeding drivers, won’t it be failing in its duty to ‘Protect the NHS, and Save Lives’, AND tackle climate change?

Allan Ramsay

The views expressed are those of the author of the letter and not those of Oldham Chronicle.

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