Note: This article was written for the 2020 season. We trust you will find it helpful for your cycling adventures, whether you are joining us on our tours or making other arrangements. We have scheduled our tours for 2021 and will update this article as the situation evolves.
In the Spring of 2020, due to COVID-19, Cycle Canada was forced to cancel many of its earlier season tours. As conditions improved and businesses were permitted to operate, it ran its first tour at the end of June. Tours are now operating and you will find a schedule and availability here: Cycle Canada Tour Calendar. Below are recommendations and information on bicycle touring during the time of COVID-19, based on our 30 plus years of running cycling tours in Canada. These protocols are aimed at Cycle Canada tours. The protocols apply to Tour du Canada however some practices for tour support are different for Tour du Canada and the read should refer to the Tour du Canada website for details or contact us if you are unsure.
Cycle Canada, the Veloforce Corporation is a Canadian business, incorporated federally. Its head office is in Ontario. Provincial and federal rules and regulations apply to the company.
Regulations Covering the Operation of Cycle Tours
There are no specific regulations directed at cycle tour operators in Canada. Cycle Canada, with over 30 years experience, has taken the lead in establishing the high standard of operations our customers expect.
Cycle Canada / Tour du Canada is registered with and subject to oversight by a variety of government agencies. Primary points of contact are:
- Health ministries — primarily provincial for regulations covering direct operating procedures and the federal ministry for broad guidance on COVID-19 matters.
- Finance ministries, for collection of harmonized sales tax and other business taxes.
- Labour ministries, which enforce an array labour standards for employees, including health and safety and hours of work.
- Transportation ministry in Ontario, which regulates hours of work and and safety standards enforced by the Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR);
- Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO), which regulates sales practices of tourism operators.
The first thing we want our customers to know is that if you are registered for one of our tours and you are feeling unwell and may have been exposed to COVID-19 you should not participate in the tour. Please contact us as soon as possible so that we can make arrangements to cancel or reschedule your tour.
Be kind, be calm and be safe — Dr. Bonnie Henry Provincial Health Office, British Columbia.
Supplying services during the pandemic is stressful, so we ask our customers and all cyclists to be patient and respectful with employees and businesses. The protocols in place are government-mandated, but more importantly are there to protect your health as well as that of the employees and business operators.
Cycle Canada Employees:
Anyone working directly on our tours will be expected to practice social distancing and to maximize self-isolation leading up to and during the tour. Hand washing and mask protocols will be in place. If there is any suggestion that an employee is not well, that staff member and anyone exposed to that staff person will not work on the tour. We have a duty to protect our staff as best we can so we ask that participants be extra cautious around our staff.
Vehicles and Luggage:
Our support vehicles are used to transport cyclists’ luggage. Staff handling luggage will be masked and will wash or sanitize their hands before handling your luggage. They may also use disinfectant to wipe down luggage handles.
In normal times we will deliver luggage to rooms but during COVID-19 this will not be possible as we will not be permitted to enter your room. We may store luggage in hotel storage rooms or in our support vehicles. If stored in our vehicle we will deliver luggage directly to the owner or partner of the owner. Our customers may wish to wipe down bags that have been left in storage rooms. Where bicycles are stored in storage rooms we recommend the same procedure.
As a general practice we do not transport customers in our vehicles because of license and insurance restrictions. On Cycle Canada tours we can transport cyclists in emergency, high-need situations such as a breakdown or illness. In such cases, only the back seats of the vehicle will be used. There will be a protective transparent barrier between front and back seats. Before and after each occasion where a customer has been transported all surfaces of the interior of the vehicle will be cleaned using health department protocols. Customers travelling in our vehicles must wear masks and minimize touching surfaces as much as possible. Where there is no back seat we will not transport riders and other arrangements will need to be made.
The following links provide fact sheets from the Government of Canada, Ontario and B.C. to help you know what to expect and keep you safe.
- British Columbia Ministry of Health Hotel Accommodation Protocols
- Physical Distancing – What does that Mean?
- Washing Your Hands
- How to Self Monitor
While use of masks indoors may not be universal in Canada, such use is extensive enough that we now require our customers to use masks when inside the common area of commercial establishments (see restaurants note). We require our customers to bring an adequate number of masks for their time with our tour. We will have hand sanitizer and it will be available in most commercial establishments but we ask that you also bring your own supply, particularly while on your bike.
Canadian provinces have established guidelines for operating during the pandemic. Accommodations are governed by local health authorities and policies can vary. Generally speaking, for hotels this means additional and frequent cleaning measures. As much as possible you can expect to use touchless check-in and check-out. Reception personnel likely will be behind plexiglass barriers.
Where our customers are staying at an indoor accommodation location for more than one night, hotel staff will not enter your room. You will not get daily fresh linen and, if needed, must be requested specifically. Replacements will be placed outside your door.
Cycle Canada offers the option of matching people up into shared rooms. During the COVID pandemic this may not be advisable and those without a partner may be better to take the single supplement option.
As of mid-July, 2020, restaurants in Ontario are permitted to serve take out food or offer patio dining and indoor dining with limited numbers and social distancing. Many are operating on reduced hours. We will make every effort to inform customers of changes in these rules. In organizing our tours we verify hours of operations for food establishments in advance and you will have a list of choices available where we stay. Reservations may be a good idea in order to reduce wait times. Line-ups to enter a restaurant will be socially distanced and the restaurant may require your name and phone number in case contact tracing is required.
Restaurant serving staff will wear masks and seating capacity will be reduced to allow for social distancing of two metres. Masks will not be required while dining but if you need to use the washroom please wear a mask and practice careful hand sanitizing procedures.
Please do not ask to make exceptions to the rules set by restaurant owners. If you have any concerns, please discuss the issues with Cycle Canada staff and they will consult with management.
- Cycling Through The Time of COVID-19 An Infographic
- Use a Tissue. How to Blow Your Nose on a Bike – The New Normal
Many fast-food restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations are continuing to make their facilities available to the public. It’s nice to buy something from the store if you are using their facilities. Avoid touching any surfaces as much as possible and use paper towels as wipes where this can’t be avoided. Where washrooms have accessible door openers, use your elbow to activate. If you use your hands, be sure to immediately sanitize.
Please wear a mask, remove your gloves and sanitize your hands before entering a store or restaurant. We recommend that you carry hand sanitizer and a mask on your bike.
Whether walking, cycling or driving, people can be under a lot of COVID-19 stress and may sometimes react poorly. Getting upset or angry may expose you to increased risk. Take a deep breath.
All the usual riding courtesies still apply. If passing someone, please call out “passing.” The rider being passed should move to the right safely. Signal when you turn or stop and give fellow riders lots of time to respond by using call-outs. Let pedestrians know you are overtaking, ringing your bell or calling out “on your left.” Pedestrians on trails may be especially nervous so please give them as much social distance room as you can. Be especially cautious if passing a pedestrian if it means moving off a paved surface. Where street crossings have push buttons, use your elbow to activate.
Be careful with motor vehicles, as usual, but also be patient. Whether walking, cycling or driving, people can be under a lot of COVID-19 stress and may sometimes react poorly. Getting upset or angry may expose you to increased risk. Take a deep breath. Call us if you need to chat.
We have created an infographic with some tips for riding during the pandemic. You can read it here: Riding Tips.