Skip to main content

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



(Published January 2023, replacing March 2016)


Cycling is one of the most easily accessibly activities (aside from walking) and can be done virtually anywhere.   

Those wishing to take part in cycling within an environment classified as environment zero do not require a Cycling permit. Whilst taking part in cycling activity within the other environment classifications those leading the activity are required to hold the appropriate permit.    

This does not mean that there are no hazards in environment zero.  

This guidance provides some advice to those leading cycling to help identify and manage those hazards and risks to allow activity to take place in a safe, successful and fun manner.  

  • Remember for cycling journeys in environment zero or environment one the route must be pre-ridden  
  • Once you have planned your ride and completed a risk assessment for your cycling activity you will have a number of other things to consider.  
  • Make sure you have the required number of volunteers to remain within ratios.
  • Make sure you’re InTouch system is in place.
  • The information to be left with a responsible person not taking part in the activity can be produced in a range of formats that can include Strava, digital mapping, annotated map, route card or whatever the activity leader sees fit as long as all required information is available to the responsible person. Check the weather forecast and adjust plans accordingly.  
  • It will be important for you to consider the cycling ability of all taking part in the activity and whether what is planned is appropriate.   
  • All those taking part in the activity must complete a basic skills test, assessing their ability to ride in a straight line, control their braking and come to a stop. It is important to note that this is not a pass or fail assessment, it is intended as a tool so that the leader / organiser can assess ability and tailor / dynamically risk assess the planned activities as necessary.   
  • Where a road crossing is to be undertaken, the activity leader must assess the risks and decide upon the most suitable method to fit the situation.  
  • Remember environment zero and environment one cycling activity must be no more than 2.5 KM or 30 minutes walking distance from emergency vehicle support. If for example Forestry Commission fire roads and other tracks are to be considered as emergency vehicle access points, it is the responsibility of the leader to ensure prior to the planned cycling activity that emergency vehicles could access if needed at the planned time of the cycling activity. So, for example if gates are locked, who holds the keys and will they be available when the cycling activity will be taking place. Any emergency vehicle access point must be accessible by a normal road going ambulance. In the weather conditions at the time the planned cycling activity will take place.  
  • An off-road cycling level 2 permit holder will be able to safely lead / manage and teach cycling activity on red or black, or where there is no obvious line choice to enable a safe and flowing ride experience. Please note a level 2 permit holder is not restricted regarding operating area / environment but should hold appropriate qualifications / experience to make appropriate judgements regarding route selection and operating area / environment for the groups they are working with.  
  • All members of the group must wear appropriate clothing for the planned activity and conditions and to make them visible to other road users.   
  • The activity leader should make sure they are able to correctly inspect, check and fit cycling helmets All participants must wear a correct / appropriate cycling helmet when taking part in cycling activity. See POR 9.71 and FS120430 for exemptions.   
  • During the cycling activity a first aid kit must be available. This should contain 1st aid materials appropriate to cycling related injuries and the size of the group.   
  • The activity leader needs to have a means of summoning assistance i.e., a mobile phone.   
  • The activity leader should conduct / lead a basic M check on each bike that is to be used as part of the activity. Video provided by British Cycling M Check v_1.0 ( If after conducting an M check / pre-ride bike check, as a leader you are not comfortable with the condition / suitability of a bike for the planned activity it should not be used.  
  • The activity leader should be able to conduct a basic repairs / get home safely (for environment 1 and 2 this is outlined in the Assessment Checklist for Off-Road Cycling), in environment zero this includes:  
    • Fix a puncture  
    • Re-fit a chain  
    • Repair a broken chain  
  • It is recommended that the activity leader carry a repair kit to enable them to conduct basic repairs. But don’t forget, there is no point taking tools you don’t know how to use. Completing M checks and finding out about the bikes the group will be using before the activity will mean that appropriate tools and spares can be selected.   
  • Only Level 2 permit holders are deemed to have the knowledge and experience to use their judgement to assess if a pre-ride is necessary in the production of a risk assessment.  
  • A planned cycling journey should comply with POR 9.12.4 
  • The level of navigation required for the planned environment zero route should be perceived to be low. i.e. following a clearly defined trail or track, following a way marked route or following a route where there are minimal options to leave the intended route.  
  • The level of navigation required for environment one and two cycling should not exceed the assessed criteria for each of the levels.  
  • One of the aims for an activity leader when planning a cycling journey should be to deliver a smooth flowing ride.

Before leading a road cycling journey activity leaders should make sure they have up-to-date knowledge of the Highway code and the Safer Highway Code for Cyclists.   

The activity leader should be aware of, demonstrate and instruct the four core functions:  

  • Making good and frequent observations  
  • Choosing and maintaining the most suitable riding positions  
  • Communicating with others  
  • Understanding the priorities on the road, particularly at junctions  

The activity leader should be aware of, demonstrate and instruct Road cycling systematic routines:  

  • Planning well in advance, anticipating and responding.  
  • Selecting the most suitable riding positions for different parts of the journey.  
  • Looking behind before communicating intentions and changing riding positions.  
  • Know when to give way to others and when to take priority assertively. 
  • Cyclists are allowed to ride (in England and Wales) on roads, byways, bridle paths and other higher classified tracks. They can also ride where the landowner has given their permission, e.g. much Forestry Commission land. In Scotland the access is much wider with responsible access being used.  
  • The largest difference when planning a route compared to walking is that the track/path surface cannot be determined by just looking at the map. Checking in guide books or asking local riders is a great way to gather more information. Cycling environment two permit holders are deemed to have the skills, knowledge and experience to assess a route in this way. However, the best way of ensuring the route is suitable and that the leader knows where the hazards are is by riding it beforehand this is a requirement for activities in environment zero and environment one. Remember, just because a route is in environment zero doesn’t mean it is free of hazards and suitable for all riders, so riding it beforehand will help judge whether it is within the capabilities of those who will be in your group.  
  • This preparation ride will also give the leader the knowledge so that they can vary their leader position according to the terrain. They will also know what is ‘round the next corner’ so that they can send the group ahead in the knowledge that there are no abject hazards just out of sight. This ride will also give the activity leader the opportunity to scope out points of interest, points where some skills or games can be played, places for lunch, etc. which will all go towards a more enjoyable ride for the group.  

Navigating on a bike is different to navigating on foot. So, although many of the same skills are required (such as the ability to read a map) it is worth practising navigation on a bike before taking a group out with you. A useful aid for navigation on a bike is the use of a properly calibrated cycle computer that is set up to show speed and distance in meters and kilometres. This will enable the leader to be able to measure distance travelled reasonably accurately thus aiding in areas of possible navigation problems. Many GPS units are suitable for use on a cycle ride, some of which include Ordnance Survey, or other, maps. These units can be used as a navigational aid, however, the basic skills of map reading and navigation cannot be underestimated and so a paper map should always be carried.  

What is a Pumptrack?  

A Pumptrack is a track for wheeled sports equipment that, when ridden properly does not require pedaling or pushing. Instead the rider uses a pumping action (pushing down and pulling up action) to maintain momentum, this pumping action is timed using the crests and falls of the bumps on the course.  

The main components of pumptrack design are berms and rollers. A pump track is usually a loop consisting of a series of rollers (Bumps) and berms (banked corners)   

Pumptracks can be made from  

  • Dirt  
  • Wood  
  • Concrete  
  • Asphalt  
  • Fiberglass  

Depending on the type of construction pumptracks can be used by: 

  • Bicycles  
  • Scooters  
  • Skateboards  
  • Roller blades  
  • Longboards   

A well designed and produced pumptrack should allow users of all skill levels to use the track without fear of injury it should be:  

  • Low to the ground: All riding surfaces and all edges should be low to the ground, so riders are not at risk of falling from a high point.  
  • Rounded edges, gentle embankments, rollout zones and no rocks. Incorporate features intended to reduce injuries such as rounded edges, gentle embankments and built using perfect geometry which guarantees a safe riding flow.  
  • A place of learning safe from vehicles. Pumptracks are located away from traffic, making them a safe space to develop biking skills.  

Things to consider when using a pumptrack  

The most common injuries that occur on a pumptrack are usually abrasions. As the ridding surfaces are designed to be non-slip for use in the wet.  

The following common-sense precautions will reduce the risk of injury whilst using a pump track:  

  • The rules put in place by any owner / operator of a track must be adhered to  
  • Consider using the services of a qualified instructor / coach  
  • Always wear an appropriate helmet for the activity  
  • It is strongly recommended to wear long sleeves and trousers  
  • Full finger gloves should be worn.  
  • Using other safety gear such as elbow and knee pads is strongly recommended.  
  • Users must ride within their own abilities. 

BMX stands for Bicycle moto cross. 

BMX ridding can take many forms including freestyle, quarter and halfpipe, park, track and time trial. 

The Bikes 

BMX bikes are simple and strong, with a single gear and usually just a rear brake. They are much smaller than a mountain, road or track bike and might feel strange if you are used to any of these already. 

Standard BMXs have 20-inch wheels and there are micro and mini and junior sized bikes for younger riders. 

There are also a larger 24-inch wheel cruiser class, which is popular with larger or older riders. Although top-class bikes are high tech and expensive, entry level racing machines are more affordable than many other bike types. 

If planning BMX activity of any form consider using the services of a qualified instructor / coach. 

This guidance focuses on the use of BMX tracks but much of the guidance can be applied to other aspects of BMX sport. 

BMX racing is a fast and exciting sport, with an element of perceived danger particularly at the higher levels. 

The main components of BMX track design are a large starting ramp with starting gate, berms (banked corners) rollers and rhythm sections a variety of jumps including table tops and expert riders will negotiate gap jumps. 

Tracks are usually around 400 meters long. 

Tracks can range from introductory level to Olympic standard The size of the features of the track will be a general indicator of the standard. 

BMX tracks can be made from  

  • Compacted dirt 
  • Concrete 
  • Asphalt 

Obstacles on lower-level tracks will be possible to roll through (no need to jump). 

Track design should be challenging yet safe for all. 

Things to consider when using a BMX track 

The following common-sense precautions will reduce the risk of injury whilst using a BMX track: 

  • The rules put in place by any owner / operator of a track must be adhered to  
  • Consider using the services of a qualified instructor / coach 
  • Always wear an appropriate helmet for the activity 
  • It is strongly recommended to wear long sleeves and trousers (this is a requirement at many tracks 
  • Full finger gloves should be worn. 
  • Using other safety gear such as elbow and knee pads is strongly recommended. 
  • The track selected must be suitable for the ability level of the users and the users must ride within their own abilities,  
  • Sectioning the course into zones with only one rider permitted in any one zone at any time or only allowing one rider on the course at any time will maximise safety when practising / training. 
  • If more than one rider is on the track, all riders must ride in the same direction and maintain a safe distance between themselves and others. 
  • Do not use BMX tracks in adverse weather conditions or poor lighting. 
  • Always pre-walk and inspect the track before use and do not use incomplete or damaged tracks pay particular attention to the surface of the track. 
  • Sweep / remove and detritus from the track this includes leaves and twigs etc. 
  • It is strongly recommended to start sessions with introductory low speed runs to allow users to get used to the technique. 

BMX Clubs 

Most active BMX clubs offer taster and skills sessions at their local track, allowing you to have a go at improve your skills. Many clubs offer bike, helmet and protective gear hire, allowing you to get a taste for the sport before making a financial commitment. This may be something a whole Scouting group could get involved with. 

Those wishing to compete in BMX racing will need to hold a full race licence obtained through British Cycling. 

Rules relating to cycling

Rule 9.12.4 Cycling

General activity rules

Rule 9.1 All Activities

Rule 9.6 Use of External Centres and Instructors