Campaigners in Oxford say cyclists should be able to ride even further from their homes than Prime Minister Boris Johnson did at the weekend - as long as they maintain safe social distancing.

Mr Johnson caused controversy when he was seen cycling in a park in east London on Sunday, about seven miles from his Downing Street home.

It is not known if he was driven there but if he was not, he will have completed a round trip of about 14 miles.

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At the moment government guidance to reduce the spread of coronavirus only says ‘you should not travel outside your local area’ while exercising.

Oxford Mail: Dr Alison Hill, chair of cycling campaign group Cyclox Dr Alison Hill, chair of cycling campaign group Cyclox

Dr Alison Hill, chairwoman of the city’s cycling campaign group Cyclox, said she thought Mr Johnson’s ride was a reasonable one and thought it would be acceptable for cyclists to travel even further from their homes - within 20 or so miles of their houses.

She said in a statement: “Cyclox wants to encourage and support as many people as possible to continue cycling during lockdown. We think that the criticisms of the Prime Minister’s cycle ride to the Olympic Park are unjustified. It was a very reasonable trip to make – seven miles out and back is not far on a bike, a journey of an hour or so. The Metropolitan Police say that the Prime Minister wasn’t breaking the law.

“Being outside and moving reasonably fast you are at low risk of infecting others or catching Covid-19.

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“You may hear people telling you not to go cycling because you are at risk of injury and therefore putting pressure on the NHS. We don’t support that view as the risk of injury is very low whereas the benefits for overall health and wellbeing is enormous.

Oxford Mail: Boris Johnson in a bike repair shop in 2020Boris Johnson in a bike repair shop in 2020

“The advice is to stay ‘local’ but there is no definition of what that means. Given that many cyclists regularly travel 30 plus miles for their exercise we interpret ‘local’ as within 20 or so miles of your home.

“Our advice to cyclists should be – do go out riding as often as possible, cycle with your family, your bubble or one other, go on quiet roads, don’t stop unless you have to, and keep socially distanced.”

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Asked at Monday’s press conference whether travelling seven miles for a cycle ride was within the rules, health secretary Matt Hancock said: “It is okay to go if you went for a long walk and ended up seven miles from home, that is okay, but you should stay local. It is okay to go for a long walk or a cycle ride or to exercise but stay local.”

Oxford Mail: City councillor Colin Cook cycling in Oxford City councillor Colin Cook cycling in Oxford

City councillor Colin Cook, a keen cyclist who once cycled 84 miles from Cambridge to Oxford in a day, said: “If cyclists are completing their usual distances and that’s their normal form of exercise the police would be hard pressed to prosecute them.”

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City council cycling champion Louise Upton said: “If you are cycling on empty roads, 10 miles away from your house is reasonable.”

Thames Valley Police and the county council have not yet commented.