CEOs from leading companies in the UK cycle industry attended a ‘COVID-19 crisis summit’ video conference on Friday, convened by the BA. Members of the organisation’s Leadership Group discussed how the cycle industry could support the national response to contain the outbreak.
Acting through the BA, the industry leaders agreed:
1. To fully endorse, and to reinforce through industry communications, Government guidance about responsible cycling and the need to maintain social distancing. The BA joins all other major UK cycling organisations in forcefully urging cyclists to avoid group rides and to maintain at least two metres distance between riders at all times.
2. That the BA should continue to make the case to Government that bicycle repair shops must remain open as long as possible, to ensure that transport for essential workers and last-mile deliveries is maintained.
– The group commended and supports initiatives already put in place by many local bike shops to offer NHS staff in their communities free or discounted cycle repairs and services.
– For NHS workers and other essential staff who do not have access to a car but need transport between home and workplace, cycling is a lower-risk, more convenient and more reliable alternative to using public transport. As more and more public transport services are reduced or cancelled, cycling’s role for journeys too long to walk becomes ever more important to maintain the resilience of the transport network.
– Cycling is also valuable for anyone experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 to continue to make essential trips.
– Industry leaders have observed high demand for ‘last mile’ deliveries by bike and cargo bike. Retailers are ready to help scale this up if required by fixing or adapting bikes for e.g. home deliveries of food or medicines for the self- isolating.
3. To continue to stress the role that responsible, socially-distanced cycling can play in maintaining health and well-being for those otherwise largely confined indoors.
The UK’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, said at the Downing Street briefing of 20th March: “keeping two metres apart, off for a bike ride together or something, that is absolutely fine. And in many ways, we would encourage that.”
The Bicycle Association is encouraged that the benefits of riding are recognised and will urge the Government to undertake the most careful possible consideration before implementing any additional control measures which might impact people’s access to responsible leisure cycling.
4. While some cycle industry retailers are reporting strong demand in their repair workshops, industry leaders are concerned that low footfall as people remain housebound could impact retailers significantly. Several of the UK’s major cycle industry distributors have already announced measures to support the retailers they supply. But it was also agreed that:
As an initial industry support measure, the Bicycle Association’s legal and Human Resources support services, which can currently be accessed free of charge by retailers in the organisation’s Trade Network, will be made available to all cycle industry retailers and suppliers in the UK, free of charge, for an initial period of three months.
Any UK cycle industry retailer or supplier wishing to access free legal advice can call Law Express on 01275 378 831, quoting the Bicycle Association.
Human Resources support is available for any UK cycle industry retailer or supplier from Avensure on 0800 015 50 30. Again please quote the Bicycle Association to access the free service.
5. Impacts on demand at retailer level will inevitably feed up to suppliers, who are largely importers. So as well as providing clear information on Government support, the Bicycle Association is also joining calls from other industry bodies for HMRC to consider ‘easement’ for the payment of import duties, providing ‘time to pay’ for importers.
6. Finally, the Bicycle Association is working urgently to build a ‘hub’ for the UK cycle industry, as a central resource to share official guidance and support information, to share ideas to reduce infection risk for both retailers and suppliers, and to showcase some of the initiatives retailers and suppliers in the cycle industry are taking to support NHS workers, for example.
As time permits, it will also share examples of cycles supporting critical tasks during the outbreak, including for example food and pharmacy deliveries.
The work-in-progress cycle industry COVID-19 Hub is at https://www.bicycleassociation.org.uk/news-press/covid-19-cycling-hub/