GoBike has sent a letter to the First Minister calling for the Scottish Government to take a pragmatic approach to outdoor exercise in Scotland. The tone emanating from Westminster has caused us some concern. We believe that even if the United Kingdom Government, as part of their Covid-19 measures, ban outdoor exercise in England, this should not be adopted in Scotland at this time.
Our letter can be read below:
Dear First Minister,
Maintaining Outdoor Exercise in Scotland
In our capacity as the Strathclyde Cycle Campaign, GoBike urges you to help people find responsible ways to continue to get essential outdoor exercise during the current emergency.
We are concerned with the current tone emanating from the British Government with regards to “banning” exercise. We would hope that the Scottish Government would take a pragmatic approach and one relevant to Scotland to continue people to be able to exercise, either by foot on or bike.
We are also concerned that by banning people from exercising on cycles that you will also discourage them from using for transport. Bikes are proving to be an important tool in the fight against Covid-19 and are enabling people to get to the shops, as well as healthcare professionals to get to work safely.
Regular outdoor exercise is vital to maintaining good physical and mental health in normal times; in the present circumstances is even more important. Ill-targeted restrictions that seek to curtail people’s access to outdoor facilities and activities could lead to unintended negative public health outcomes.
In making any changes to the current guidelines, please take into account the following:
- Evidence that regular exercise, especially in surroundings that offer exposure to nature, greenery and water, is beneficial for general physical and mental health, including respiratory health (e.g. Cycling and walking for individual and population health benefits: a rapid evidence review)
- The large proportion of the urban Scottish population that lives in flats, without access to private gardens or outdoor space sufficient for physical exercise
- The increasing stress being generated by the constant stream of worrying news
- The prohibition of everyday activities
Widely publicised examples where individual decisions may have led to too many people arriving at one location should be addressed by offering advice and ideas for a wider range of exercise choices and by expanding public recreation space through the reallocation of roads to people walking, cycling and running.
GoBike is a voluntary organisation that campaigns, in the Strathclyde area, for political decisions which will encourage cycling to become the natural way of getting around for people of all ages and abilities.
We hope that you will make a decision that is right for Scotland and for the people of Scotland.
John Eddie Donnelly and Thomas Cornwallis