The Foot and Mouth virus is killed in daylight and is spread more by rain at night than passing feet, vehicles and cycle tyres but, for PR purposes at least, it's best for your customers to stick to MAFF guidelines and stay away from the countryside. But for how long?

Pray that FMD is over by Easter

Clearly, the FMD outbreak will have a serious detrimental effect on many bicycle businesses if it lasts up to and beyond the Easter bank Holiday weekend. When this weekend is fine, it can kick-start the year for many IBDs and cycle hire businesses.

Anyway, here’s the latest official guidance from cycle bodies:

Foot and Mouth Disease Precautions

The following statement was agreed by nine cycling bodies at the Cycle Liaison Group Meeting on 10th March 2001

"As a responsible sport and pastime we wish to place on record cycling’s support for rural communities during this crisis. We call upon all cyclists to behave responsibly and sensitively during this period.

We would however not wish cycling to be unreasonably penalised and to recognise the importance of cycling to the tourism and rural economy, and to the healthy lifestyles of its participants.

We have therefore issued the following guidelines to members, organisers and cyclists as of 10th March 2001.

1.. Cycles are vehicles and cyclists expect to be subject to the safe regulations as other road users. We recognise the restrictions in affected areas and encourage our members and other cyclists to follow recommended restrictions published by MAFF. There is no reason to restrict the movement of cyclists on road outside affected areas as defined by MAFF, within the guidelines below.

2.. We recognise the guidelines issued that countryside users should not enter areas where livestock and wildlife are at risk and we ask cyclists not to use the rights of way network and other closed areas offroad. All offroad events are cancelled or postponed until further notice. On road events and activities should avoid car parks, headquarters, venues and other areas that are offroad or on agricultural land. Spectators and participants should be strongly discouraged from accessing such areas at any time.

3.. We recognise that restrictions are different in all parts of the country, and that they are changing. All organisers must be sensitive to local conditions, and consult with Local Animal Health Offices about conditions in their area. In many instances events can go ahead with the support of MAFF provided consultation has taken place.

4.. We encourage cyclists to behave with sensitivity to local feelings, to avoid confrontational behaviour and avoid large groups. Cyclists who have contact with livestock should stick to the MAFF guidelines.

5.. The situation is constantly evolving and we are committed to maintaining a consistent position on behalf of cycling. Please keep an eye on the web site of any of the bodies listed to get an updated position.

6.. In addition to UK regulations we are aware that other countries are taking their own positions. In particular the Irish Department of Agriculture Food and Rural development has asked all travellers not to move between the UK and the Irish Republic unless absolutely necessary. Travellers to mainland Europe should be prepared to have equipment disinfected, should not carry food and may face restrictions on movement. Individual country’s tourism authorities will provide advice.

7.. We are unable to forecast the impact on future events or cycling tours, and are obviously concerned about the upcoming Easter programme. At present we advise trip organisers to plan on the basis of the guidelines above and recognise that some trips may have to be re-routed or postponed. Check with accommodation providers and landowners, some of whom are not confirming bookings. We recognise the important contribution cycling can make to the rural tourist economy and we are keen to support our partners in these areas as they manage the outcomes of the crisis.

This statement issued on behalf of:

British Cycling Federation, Cycling Time Trials, CTC, Trail Cyclists Association, Tricycle Association, Tandem Club, Audax UK, British Schools Cycling Association, The League International.

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