Can I ride my motorcycle during the Coronavirus pandemic?

John Milbank, BikeSocial Consumer Editor
bennetts_bike Consumer Editor of Bennetts BikeSocial, John's owned over 20 bikes, is a member of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators and part of the Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group
Riding rules after lockdown

UPDATE: the latest Government paper and further clarification makes it clear that non-essential travel over greater distances is now acceptable in England. Please take note of the guidance below to ensure you stay within the law as you take your bike out again.

New Government advice has indicated that exercise and travel restrictions have – to some extent – been relaxed. While all key workers, and anyone else needing to travel for essential journeys, have been free to use a motorcycle for transport during the pandemic, the latest advice urges common sense around taking your motorbike out for leisure rides. It’s vitally important that motorcyclists ride with real care and consideration, as tougher lockdown measure could very quickly be reintroduced… 


Can I ride my motorcycle during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Residents of England are being told to ‘Stay Alert’ and from Wednesday 13 May, they can:

  • Go for a picnic, to sunbathe or relax and read a book
  • Drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance (though not crossing into devolved nations)
  • Travel to beauty beaches and beauty spots, but check first that car parks and othe facilities are open to receive visitors
  • Travel to the countryside, but continue to respect the local community and protect the natural environment. You can also swim in lakes or the sea
  • Play sports with members of their own household

  • Meet one other person outside if they maintain social distancing of 2m and use common sense

  • You may NOT go on holiday

  • You can NOT visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home
  • You can NOT gather with more than one member of another household for recreational reasons

“The efforts of the public mean police officers have rarely had to enforce the government regulations so far,” said National Police Chiefs’ council chair, Martin Hewitt. “I am confident the vast majority will continue to do their bit and follow guidance in this next stage.

“We are all now able to spend much more time outdoors and each of us need to take responsibility for doing that within the social restrictions set out by the government. Our approach will continue use common sense and discretion, and to engage, explain, encourage and, only as a last resort, enforce.”

What about Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

The above applies specifically to England, especially as the reinfection rate (R number) was declining on a curve behind that of England when its restrictions were relaxed. However, guidance is changing in the devolved nations…

  • If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland it’s very important to check the guidance being applied by your government as changes happen frequently
  • If you live in England, you should still not cross into Wales or Scotland
  • Residents of Scotland and Wales can meet other people anywhere outdoors, but ideally only within a five mile radius of their homes
  • Scots can meet up to eight people from two households, while the Welsh can meet any number of people, but still from only two households. Social distancing of two meters must be maintained
  • Northern Ireland’s measures have relaxed more, with meets of up to six allowed, though still at 2m. Meets can take place anywhere outdoors, and we understand that riders there are getting out on their bikes for leisure again

As always, common sense must be applied, and do try to avoid tourist hotspots; this is a great time to discover new roads.


What do I need to know where riding is allowed?

Where people are allowed to travel anywhere to relax, there’s no obvious not to ride your motorbike, though we’d urge ALL riders to consider these important points:

  • The pandemic is NOT over – the lives of our families and friends are still in the balance
  • Maintain social distancing of two metres at all times
  • Check your bike over carefully when it’s been unused for a while
  • If you put your bike on SORN, be sure to update it with the DVLA
  • If you didn't renew your bike insurance policy during lock down, do it now
  • Do you have an MoT? The six month extension only applies to bikes that were due an MoT AFTER 30 March.

  • Do NOT ride in groups – the government states that we must not meet more than one other person from outside our household, and we must maintain social distancing
  • Try to avoid rush hour if possible
  • The government has clarified that ‘people may drive [riding a motorcycle comes under this term] to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there’ but it’s important that we don’t see large groups of motorcyclists congregating at single spots
  • You are an ambassador for motorcycling – ride with care and consideration
  • Be respectful of all other road users
  • Do not ride across the Scottish and Welsh borders unless necessary until those countries change their rules


Given the need for social distancing, there’s a real chance that more people will consider riding motorcycles and scooters to get to work in the coming months. Test centres are expected to reopen in June (though bookings can’t currently be made), and there seems a real hunger among many to get their bike licence.

It’s now more important than ever that ALL motorcyclists present the right image to the world, proving how convenient, efficient and inexpensive scooters and motorcycles can be as a form of transport. The fact that they’re also hugely enjoyable is a bonus, but please do consider how we all appear to those who don’t understand life on two wheels, be it on the road or when using social media.

If more people take to biking, the roads WILL be safer, more councils WILL follow the lead of Northamptonshire in embracing motorcycles and scooters, and more budget-friendly options WILL become available to meet an increasing demand.

Nick Broomhall, Communications manager at the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) added “MCIA has always championed the benefits of PTWs (Powered Two Wheelers) and supports the safe use of motorcycles and scooters in line with the relevant Covid-19 national government guidance in place at the time.

“MCIA’s on-going challenge is to get PTWs accepted as a valid alternative to public transport during the current crisis and to be a permanent part of transport policy in the future.

“We are riders and we love bikes and scooters, but we ask riders to remember, especially during these unusual times, that we are all ambassadors for motorcycling and each flamboyant piece of road riding, or screaming race pipe, makes our fight to get PTWs accepted as serious transport harder.

“Ride safe and stay safe.”

Riders insured by Bennetts motorcycle insurance have, and will remain, covered for riding during the pandemic. Guidance on the use of motorcycles hasn’t affected your cover, but ignoring the government’s advice could see you prosecuted. During the crisis we extended cover to include volunteering as standard, but all riders with active polices have been – and still are – insured to ride.

It’s important to remember that the changes in guidance are scheduled to come into effect from Wednesday 13 May, so check back to this article regularly as we update it with the most up-to-date advice from the government.


Here are the key points from the government’s guidelines regarding travel:

When travelling everybody (including critical workers) should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible. If they can, people should instead choose to cycle, walk or drive, to minimise the number of people with whom they come into close contact. It is important many more people can easily travel around by walking and cycling, so the Government will increase funding and provide new statutory guidance to encourage local authorities to widen pavements, create pop-up cycle lanes, and close some roads in cities to traffic (apart from buses) as some councils are already proposing.


This is the official guidance on open spaces:

SAGE advise that the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside, so the Governmentis updating the rules so that, as well as exercise, people can now also spend time outdoors subject to: not meeting up with any more than one person from outside your household; continued compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain two metres (6ft) away from people outside your household; good hand hygiene, particularly with respect to shared surfaces; and those responsible for public places being able to put appropriate measures in place to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidance.

People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish. For example, this would include angling and tennis. You will still not be able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces. You can only exercise with up to one person from outside your household – this means you should not play team sports, except with members of your own household.

People may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there, because this does not involve contact with people outside your household.

When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration. These measures may come with some risk; it is important that everyone continues to act responsibly, as the large majority have done to date. The infection rate will increase if people begin to break these rules and, for example, mix in groups in parks, which will trigger the need for further restrictions.


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