New service gives cyclists advice amid calls to keep cycling unlocked


The far-reaching effects of the global pandemic has seen global cities turn to bikes to help tackle the spread of Coronavirus.

New York witnessed a surge in people cycling to avoid crowded trains and Bogotá introduced an additional 100km of 24hr emergency cycleways to reduce close contact and promote safe, essential journeys.

In Germany this week, the Health Minister advised people to avoid public transport and to “go by bike or foot”.

Meanwhile, social media users in London reported packed platforms on its Underground network, which closed 40 stations yesterday and geared itself to focus on providing transport for key workers.

London Cycling Campaign has launched a cycling advice service for those considering cycling during the coronavirus pandemic.

A new chatbot on Facebook Messenger will provide advice, for people who want to cycle for essential journeys for the first time, as well as those returning to cycling, and people who cycle already but need additional help or information during these exceptional circumstances.

As well as FAQs, the London Cycling Campaign, a registered charity, will have staff and volunteers on hand to advise people through live chat, phone and email; on basic cycle skills, locking and parking bikes, safe route planning, where to buy bikes and gear and cycling safely in traffic, including near HGVs and lorries.

The free service comes as the charity says it expects there may be an increase in the number of people choosing to cycle over the coming weeks.

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Dr Ashok Sinha, chief executive of the London Cycling Campaign said: “As the coronavirus outbreak in London is unfolding so quickly it’s important to stay up to date with the latest advice, but it is likely that cycling will play its part in helping London’s journey through this crisis.

“People, including key workers, who have to make essential journeys throughout this time, may be looking to avoid public transport and cycle instead for essential journeys.

“We want to do everything possible to make sure those who need to move around are able to do so in the safest possible way.”

Earlier this week, transport and public health academics called on the government to enable safe walking and cycling during the covid-19 pandemic in an open letter.

Dr James Woodcock, programme lead for public health modelling at Cambridge University’s MRC Epidemiology Unit, one of those calling for cycling to be safeguarded, said: “Protecting the right to safe cycling is crucial. With public transport restricted, it will be increasingly important for journeys that people, such as key workers, still need to make.

“It can help people avoid unnecessary car trips, thereby improving air quality and reducing the risk of respiratory illnesses, while contributing to the regular exercise we need.

“To cater for increased demand, reduce injury risk, and keep cyclists spaced apart we should be following the example of  Bogota, where temporary protected cycle tracks have been constructed on major roads.”

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