There’s been quite a lot of controversy over the status of certain outdoor activities, especially in the wake of lockdowns and other restrictive measures put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Biking is one of such activities, and Scottish authorities are now weighing in on this debate by taking a bit of a hard line against the activity.
Mountain Biking is a Recreational Activity – Not an Exercise
According to a new report from The National, Jason Leitch, the National Clinical Director of the Scottish Government, has commented that mountain biking isn’t a valid enough reason for people to come out of their homes in this period.
Leitch’s comments are coming at a time when many Scots are pointing out a notable ambiguity in the country’s stay-at-home regulations. They’ve pointed out that the specific activities that are exempted as exercise aren’t stated, and there’s also no regulation concerning how long people can come out to “exercise.”
“Can I just emphasize that exercise is exercise, not recreation, not your hobby. It’s not the time to go mountain biking. You need to just use it for 30, up to 60 minutes from your home to exercise to stay healthy and then stay at home,” he reportedly said.
His statement essentially communicates the government’s stand on the issue – while people can exercise in this period, mountain biking isn’t considered an exercise.
The ambiguity has extended out of New Zealand. Last week, Pat Riordan, a man from Bonbeach in southeast Melbourne, Australia, was arrested after he went on a mountain biking trip.
As Be Active Outdoors reported, Pat was driving home from his biking trail when he was stopped by police officers and fined $1030 for “unnecessary travel.” The officers told him that driving out to a trail to exercise does not qualify as essential travel.
At the same time, David Clark, New Zealand’s Health Minister, came under severe scrutiny after he was found mountain biking at a trail close to his home. Clark was forced to apologize to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the people of New Zealand for his transgression.
“People can go outside to get fresh air and drive short distances if needed, but we have asked people to avoid activities where there is a higher risk of injury, and the Minister should have followed that guidance,” Prime Minister Ardern said.
The Argument for Mountain Biking
The problem here is quite simple; people have been forced to stay in their homes for weeks on end, and with a shortage of activities to keep them engaged, some would prefer to come out.
While many people prefer to just come out for fresh air, others see this lockdown as an opportunity to get in some exercise which they wouldn’t be able to do normally, thanks to the demands of their work.
Several regions understand this, and they’ve adjusted their lockdown guidelines to include some outdoor activities. In states like Mississippi in the U.S, the government has included fishing into its lockdown exemptions, on the premise that residents exercise the right social distancing rules.
A similar guideline exists in Maine, where Governor Janet Mills has okayed people to fish, camp, and hunt.
However, considering how exhaustive biking can be, and the propensity for riders to be out for long periods, jurisdictions like Scotland have been forced to exclude it from the list of activities that the citizens can engage in.
It’s also worth noting that Scotland has more coronavirus cases than these two states combined. Maine’s confirmed COVID-19 cases are 633 (with 19 deaths), Mississippi has 2,781 cases (with 96 deaths). While Scotland has 6,067 cases (with over 600 deaths).