How far we can travel from home under lockdown is the source of much debate. Safely and locally says Ashley Bloomfield. A walk, jog or cycle around the block is okay, how about a bit further? How much further?
An app that records the route and length for runners and cyclists drew attention to keen runners and cyclists undeterred by the lockdown. These fine examples of distance running and cycling were pinged last week when the Strava fitness app they use to track distance was shared online. They were dobbed in by digital media.
“One user hopped on their bike early on Sunday for a 76 kilometre figure-of-eight loop, taking them as far afield as St Heliers and Glen Innes in the east and Henderson and Te Atatu South in the west, via central city suburbs.
One man ran the better part of a marathon after setting off from his home in Arch Hill, near Western Springs, and tracing a 30km loop to Pt Chevalier, Mt Albert, Newmarket, and Ponsonby on Sunday.
The runner believed he had followed government advice to exercise locally and not drive to a destination for exercise.
“My 30km run was completed all within 5km of my home, it was completed within 2 hours, I avoided parks and the waterfront where people are more likely to congregate.”
These two didn’t wake up one morning sick and tired of being stuck at home and impulsively decide to run a marathon or cycle through Auckland twice just for the heck of it. They used an app indicating it’s a regular activity and they knew what they were doing. Perhaps they train for events or may simply enjoy long distance training. Whatever, they took care to exercise at times and places to avoid contact with others.
However, they were out of the house much longer than most of the rest of us and therein lies the rub. We are given a thumbs up for a walk or run around the block and a thumbs down for enjoying more sunshine and exercise than everyone else, in this case a cyclist and runner. I call it lockdown envy. It is a form of jealousy, meaning if someone else can’t do what you are doing (not that they necessarily want to) then neither can you.
The only valid argument against solitary long-distance runners and cyclists is the possibility of an accident requiring medical attention, which happened this week when a cyclist and a car collided in central Auckland and the cyclist was carted off to hospital in a critical condition. In the absence of rush hour traffic, city cycling is considerably safer than it was two weeks ago but unlike the responsible runner and cyclist mentioned above who both returned home unscathed, it is not yet known who was at fault in this accident.
Also this week a woman tragically died while running a track on Banks Peninsula.
“April Morel, a lover of nature and adventure, was stretching her legs with the family dog when she fell from a coastal track on Banks Peninsula on Monday.”
Should we ban running and cycling to prevent similar possible accidents? Accidents will happen regardless of the lockdown. People who stay indoors for four weeks without exercising put themselves at higher risk of cardiac arrest and if they do have a heart attack at home requiring medical assistance it would be most unfair to berate them for their lifestyle choices, even if they were fully aware of pre-existing conditions.
What about the home handymen making the most of the lock down? Falling off ladders, cutting or damaging themselves goes with the territory. Should we tell them to desist too, just in case?
Police are now patrolling beaches and turning people away from enjoying a pleasant stroll along the sand. A family of young children were intercepted by police because they drove several minutes from their home in Wellington so that the kids could ride their bikes while, in Dunedin, the Minister of Health David Clark drove his van a similar distance to exercise on a mountain bike trail. You can choose to berate either the police or the Minister of Health or even both, but working up a lather about it is the real problem here. To our knowledge, neither the family or the minister met with an accident or went within two metres of anyone.
Police say congestion must be stopped because people infringe the two metre recommendation. They are right, but surely we can monitor this ourselves? Won’t we leave an area when it becomes too congested? It seems that we don’t – another example of lockdown envy. If others are enjoying the sea, sun and sand then I will too! Not taking personal responsibility is the only reason for police enforcement and more rules.
It would be dead easy to tie us up in more red tape and even easier to enforce it. We could dispense with the police altogether with so many watching and waiting for others to step out of line. The police hotline crashed this week under the onslaught of enthusiastic dobbers. It’s not concern for anyone elses’s safety that motivates them. Dobbers are motivated by lockdown envy.
Dobbing is a really bad idea, but if you want to encourage it, here’s a thought: reward people with $10 for dobbing someone in and cut back on police numbers. Well that’s just ridiculous, you say, and I agree. Let’s not dob in at all for what amounts to personal lifestyle choices.
Instead, let’s all take personal responsibility. Accidents can and will happen both inside and outside the home and lifestyle choices are just that, choices. You choose, you lose, and if you do lose please take it on the chin because you already decided that the benefits outweighed the risks when you decided to venture away from home.
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