Audax and Coronavirus

AUK Members will have received an email from Chris Crossland today explaining the Board’s decision to cancel events and suspend recognition of points and awards.

I am copying the section of the letter that covers the underlying reasoning for this here for the benefit of non-members, as it explains clearly why we have had to cancel our events and is helpful to all of us in thinking about our approach to cycling in these difficult times.

Dear …

You may already be aware from the AUK Forum and social media of the Board’s decision on Monday night to suspend recognition of all calendar, permanent and DIY events, with immediate effect, until further notice.

While the decision was, of course, taken in response to the updated government advice given yesterday, I thought it might be helpful to give some insight into why we have decided to suspend all AUK events and the implications for the various events that run under the AUK umbrella.

Our overriding priority must be the health and safety of our membership and the wider community. Long distance cycling poses two fundamental challenges in relation to Covid-19.

The first relates to infection control. The importance of hand hygiene has been repeatedly stressed by the health authorities but maintaining this can be challenging on long rides. Additionally, control points and cafes can bring riders, volunteers and the public into close proximity and so increase the risk of the virus being spread, in either direction.

A further factor is that at this stage we have no indication of the extent to which rider fatigue may affect susceptibility and resilience to infection.

The second challenge is that, while the risk may be small, accidental injury can and does happen on Audax rides. In normal circumstances, we manage this through risk assessment of rides and the expectation that participants take reasonable care.

Our health services will be under extreme pressure in the coming weeks and months. Riders who are injured may struggle to access timely and appropriate care and will take resources that could be used to the benefit of other, potentially critically ill, patients.

As well as the risks to riders and the public, a reputational risk to AUK attaches to this. It is hard to imagine that there would be much sympathy for an injured rider who had prioritised gaining a couple of Championship points over their own and others’ well-being. We understand that the decision of the Spanish and Italian cycling federations to ban all recreational cycling was taken in response to this.

In summary, we would be failing to meet our organisational responsibility to benefit the health and well-being of the community, and we would be in breach of our health and safety policy, which requires us to undertake specific risk assessments and provide a safe environment, taking the specific nature of randonneur cycling and related disciplines into account.

I hope that all members will appreciate that this decision was not taken lightly. We will formally review the position at the next Board meeting on 22nd April and update you as appropriate.

My best wishes to all members and their families during these challenging times.

Chris Crossland

Chair, Audax UK

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