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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Night riders

Organise some night rides with your group to fit into the programme and see the benefits of sundown cycling.

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You’ll need

  • Bikes
  • PPE, including helmets, high-vis, pads and other reflective clothing
  • Front and rear lights, correctly fitted on each bike, with spares
  • Reflective strips, correctly fitted on each bike (usually on the wheel spokes)
  • Compact first aid kit, per small group
  • Bike repair kit, per small group
  • Rucksack or bike bag containing bottled water, snacks (as needed) and extra clothes.

Take a look at Cycling (road) and Off-road Cycling for resources to support your group and stay safe as you plan your night cycles.

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers

Getting ready to run this activity

  • Have those with bikes bring them along to the meeting when your first ride takes place.
  • Remind everyone to make sure they have clean, working front and rear lights, clean reflectors, pumped-up tyres and a correctly fitted seat. Take a look at more information on regulations about lights, such as how bright they need to be.
  • Enquire about borrowing bikes for those who don’t have one from local cycling clubs, repair shops and rental services.
  • Make sure you have enough reflective clothing and spare PPE for everyone who’s going to be taking part.
  • Have everyone check the weather forecast in the run-up to riding sessions. If there’s any chance of ice, postpone the activity until another evening.
  • Tell everyone to bring along a rucksack with some extra layers packed inside, in case of a sudden temperature drop.
  • Keep in mind how many will be out on your ride, and schedule in regular headcounts. You should invite along some helpers, particularly if they’re keen cyclists.
  • Make sure in advance you have the right adult-to-young-person ratio for the risks involved. Share details of any risks and what needs to be done about them with those taking part.

Run the activity

  1. Everyone should discuss the benefits of cycling after dark. Think about how the exercise might help you sleep afterwards, what nocturnal wildlife you might spot and how fun it’ll be to ride on emptier roads and trails. If there’s time, do this at the start of the session. If not, it might be better to slot it into the previous session.
  2. Everyone should discuss the safety considerations and risks of cycling after dark. Think about how you use lights and reflectors to be seen, but not to startle other road or trail users, and how you might need to ride in close single-file on narrow roads or where vision is restricted.
  3. Agree on several different night rides to be completed in the next six months. Try to make these local and close to your meeting place. This is easier for everyone and limits travel costs. Think about trips to the local chippy, exploring woodland trails for wildlife and going up onto open countryside where you can see the stars.
  4. Agree upon some dates for the rides to be completed. This allows everyone to get their bikes ready. Space out the dates so that you can ride in different seasons and prepare accordingly for different riding conditions.
  5. Take a look at the advice on Cycling through the seasons and Responsive riders for guidance on how to be prepared for all conditions.
  6. Make the first ride a short, easy one. Come up with a checklist and set of rules for everyone to follow on each ride. Here are some things you should include:
    • Check everyone has brought layers of clothing and waterproofs.
    • Make sure everyone has the correct reflective gear (on bikes and bodies!).
    • Always check everyone’s lights are working before setting out. Bike repair kits should contain spare batteries and bulbs, where needed.
    • Always do an ‘M check’ on each bike before setting off, details of which can be found in Ready to ride.
    • Big groups of riders will need more than one first aid kit, repair kit and set of spare lights. They should also set off at intervals in small groups, each supervised by an adult.
    • Remind everyone of all the risks and make sure everyone understands what they need to do while riding to keep themselves and their group safe.
    • Bring along snacks and plenty of water.


Everyone put forward their ideas for an ideal night-riding schedule. Different people probably wanted to get different things out of the experience. How did you schedule your rides to include everyone’s ideas? Were there any times in the coming months when your riders wanted an easier or a tougher night ride? There could be opportunities to see some shooting stars, or a time when there’s lots of schoolwork to handle, where everyone will benefit from a slower, more easy-going pace.

The benefits of riding at night were discussed in detail. Can anyone think of any drawbacks to riding at night, which should be talked about fully before planning any more rides? Why might working together and overcoming obstacles in your preparations be a useful exercise? It could help you plan your next expedition, hike, trip abroad or day out.


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast, and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

Cycle and wheeled activities

Use appropriate protective equipment. You must wear helmets. Wear elbow and knee pads as defined by your risk assessment.


Provide some light, so the environment isn’t completely dark. Everyone must be able to see others and move around the area safely.

Make this activity harder as your group become more experienced night riders. Go further or to new destinations on your rides for an extra challenge.

  • Night rides might not be suitable for everyone in your group. Some people might be uncomfortable in the dark, and others may not be able to see things they need to. Consider riding when it’s lighter, in well-lit streets, under a full moon or during the summer only.
  • Bikes come in all shapes and sizes, and some designs are more accessible than others. A recumbent bike, for instance, puts less strain on parts of the body, particularly the back, pelvis and joints. Make sure each person begins their ride on a bike they’re comfortable using.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

If your group has enjoyed the night rides and are feeling confident with their cycling abilities, why not get in touch with the wider district to talk about organising a sponsored night ride? If you’re covering a long distance then it would help the group to get closer to achieving their Scouts Cyclist Activity Badge.

The group should lead the initial discussion on why to go on night rides. Let them pick and choose which rides they want to do, within reason, around the local area.