Cycling

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

For the purposes of these guidelines, cycling refers to outdoor adventure activities undertaken by students on bicycles on formed roads or tracks, usually beyond the school grounds.  It does not include competition events.

Guidelines for safety with regard to cycling in schools are provided in the School Policy and Advisory Guide, see: Adventure Activities

Definitions

Bicycle knicks — Specially designed shorts for cycling with a synthetic or leather (chamois) crotch for added seat comfort.

Gradient — Steepness of the riding road or trail.

Repair kit — The repair kit must be suited to the bicycles being used, the type of riding being completed and the remoteness of the venue.

Support vehicle — Usually a form of motorised transport which can serve a number of functions, including trailing/leading students to alert traffic, carrying food, camping gear, spare bicycles and repair equipment, and providing first aid support or support to students at the rear of the group.

Environment

Cycling activities will generally be conducted on minor roads and tracks in a diverse range of environments.  Where roads and tracks are in relatively undisturbed areas, they offer the opportunity to study unique flora and fauna.  These areas require sensitive use and management.  Roadside vegetation is particularly vulnerable to soil compaction and damage to flora, which can have long-lasting effects.  

When preparing for cycling activities, staff should consider ways to minimise the environmental impact of the activity.  Further information is available at Environment.

Location

Due to the unique nature of each location, the teacher responsible for the activity should specifically assess the suitability of the location before the excursion.

The choice of location should be based on the recent and first-hand knowledge of at least one member of the planning and supervising staff.  Where this is impractical, planning and supervising staff should be thoroughly familiar with the general characteristics and conditions found in similar locations, and should have consulted with people who can provide recent and first-hand knowledge of the locations being considered.

When assessing the suitability of a location, consider:

  •  the potential to support the educational objectives
  • the level of access to resources, services and facilities that may be needed, such as campsites, water, walking trails, toilets, shelter from extreme weather, or interpretive information
  • the level of access to communications and external assistance in the event of an emergency or extreme weather conditions — the more remote the location is, the more self-contained and self-reliant the group must be and this must be taken into account in the planning of the activity
  • the potential exposure to environmental hazards and difficulties
  • the ability and fitness levels of students.

Contact with relevant authorities should be made in order to access current information and determine any access and permit requirements.

These authorities may include:

Staff need to be aware that severe weather conditions may develop before or during the proposed activity and should be prepared to cancel, modify or relocate the activity at any time.

Staff should have a thorough knowledge of the route to be covered and document any potential hazards and communicate them to students.  When determining the route, consider the:

  • age and experience of the group
  • possible traffic conditions
  • intersections on the route
  • gradients on the route
  • possible road and weather conditions.

Where possible, designated bicycle paths should be used in preference to public roads.

For safety reasons, students should finish riding before dusk.

Communication

The communication strategy should enable staff to receive weather forecasts and warnings, communicate with the school, and engage support in the case of an incident or emergency.

  • Choose communication equipment based on current communication technology and the location of the activity.
  • Develop a communication strategy for the group during the activity which enables communication with outside parties, including the school and emergency services.
  • Be aware of the limitations of the communication strategy.

Where support vehicles are used, drivers of the vehicles must have a means of communicating with the cycling group.

Weather

Check the weather forecast for the location in the days leading up to the activity and on the day the activity commences.  If the excursion extends overnight, access weather forecasts and warnings daily and monitor and assess the weather throughout.

Weather forecasts should be obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Weather conditions can change rapidly.  Monitor and assess the weather throughout the activity and be prepared to cancel, modify or relocate at any time.

Weather warning telephone services

  • Coastal, Land Weather and Flood Warnings on 1300 659 217
  • Full State Telephone Weather Service on 1900 955 363 (call charge applies)
  • Coastal Waters Telephone Service on 1900 969 930 (call charge applies)
  • Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.

The above telephone numbers may be useful to have available during the excursion.

Web links

Weather conditions can have a significant impact on the proposed activity.  Cyclists are very prone to windburn, sunburn, and dehydration in warm weather and when ultraviolet radiation levels are high.  Where possible, plan the route to take advantage of tail winds, especially at the end of a day’s riding.  Wet weather can also significantly change braking distances and tyre traction.

Transportation

The transportation of groups to and from activity locations must be carefully considered and planned; see Excursion Support – Transport.

Activity

Student skills

Bike Ed is the approved Department of Education and Training bicycle education program and provides a sequential bicycle safety program for school students from Years 4 to 7.

Students should not be taken onto public roads until they have:

  • demonstrated an adequate understanding of the likely traffic conditions
  • demonstrated the ability to respond appropriately to potential hazards
  • developed the physical and cognitive skills to manage the road traffic environment safely as a cyclist
  • developed responsible behaviours, attitudes and decision-making skills for the safe use of bicycles.

Students up to the age of 12 years are permitted to ride on footpaths.  An adult can ride on the footpath, if accompanying a child or children up to the age of 12.  Before the age of 12 years, children should not ride a bicycle on the road without direct adult supervision.  Even when riding on footpaths and bike paths there are points at which roads need to be crossed.  Most children have not developed the necessary skills to be able to ride safely in or near traffic on their own until the age of 12 years.  To develop these skills, children need lots of help and practise under adult supervision.

For extended bicycle rides, students need to demonstrate appropriate fitness and technique.

Before riding, students need to be briefed on and demonstrate skills in:

  • the effective use of brakes
  • the effective use of gears
  • safe group riding techniques.

The psychological preparation of students is as important as the physical preparation, especially for students who are anxious about the activity.  Under no circumstances should students be pressured by staff or peers to participate beyond their readiness.

Support vehicle and warnings for other road users

It is recommended that a support vehicle trail a short distance behind any cycling group, displaying a clearly visible notice indicating the presence of the cycling group ahead.  If there are two vehicles available, the second may travel ahead of the group, preferably with some warning device, e.g. signage or hazard lights.  The drivers of the vehicles must have a means of communicating with the cycling group.

Whether or not a support vehicle is used, where practicable, consideration should be given to placing signs on the roadside at the start and finish, and on significant roads entering the proposed route, to warn other road users that there will be cyclists on the road.  It may also be appropriate to advise local police of the route, time and date for the activity.

Equipment and clothing

Equipment, whether hired, borrowed or owned by the school or students, must be in a safe condition and suitable for the activity.  Under no circumstances should students be permitted to ride a bicycle known to be unsafe or incorrectly sized.

First aid kits

First aid kits appropriate to the location and level of training must be carried.

Clothing

Clothing is the individual’s primary protection against ultraviolet radiation and severe and variable weather conditions.

Clothing lists need to be appropriate for the activity, environment and season.

Enclosed footwear must always be worn while riding.

Highly visible clothing is recommended.  Each cyclist should wear a conspicuous vest, a bright top, or have a bright flag attached to their bicycle.

Bicycle knicks with chamois are recommended for any long-distance riding.

Gloves are recommended, to absorb vibration and protect hands.

To protect against sunburn, use broad-spectrum, water-resistant SPF 30+ sunscreen on all exposed parts of the body, applied according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Clothing should be selected to minimise sun exposure.  Students who own sunglasses should be encouraged to bring and wear them when required. For more information, see: Sun Exposure

Identification

Staff and students must be easily identifiable.

Staff must determine the suitable identification system based on an assessment of the environment, students’ skills, the type of activities to be undertaken, and the age and number of students.

Bicycles

Immediately before the activity, bicycles should be checked for roadworthiness to undertake the proposed bicycle ride.  As a minimum, a check should review:

  • brakes
  • tyre pressure
  • tyre condition
  • gear system operation
  • steering mechanism
  • pedals.

Bicycles should also be checked for suitability for individual riders.  As a minimum, a check should review:

  • frame size
  • reach — seat to handlebar distance (to ensure the rider can operate the brakes and gears effectively)
  • seat height and position.

Carrying equipment

Loads carried by students should be kept to a minimum.  Small day-packs are recommended.

Where students are to carry a substantial quantity of gear, they must be experienced cyclists.  Gear should be carried directly on the bicycle itself in a pannier or rear-rack bag.

Helmets

Helmets complying with AS/NZS 2063 must be worn during all cycling activities.  They must be fitted and positioned correctly, with the chinstrap adjusted correctly and secured firmly.  Students must be briefed on the correct fit and adjustment of their helmet and how to check the condition of the inner and outer shell of their helmet.  Before and during the ride, staff should check that the students have their helmet correctly fitted.  Hats should not be worn under helmets.

Repair kits

Repair kits are to be carried by staff or be immediately available from support vehicles.  Staff should be able to carry out minor roadside repairs.

When repairs are being made during the ride, the remainder of the group must be supervised.  The group should either stay in a safe environment or undertake an activity under appropriate supervision while the repair is being performed.

People

Staff

Staff members are those adults who provide the supervisory, instructional and educational elements of the activity. All staff members must be approved by the school council.

All staff members must comply with current Departmental police check requirements or the Working with Children Check.

A teacher registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching and either employed by the Department or the school council must be present and have overall responsibility for the activity.

Where not directly responsible for the instruction of the activity or assisting the instructor, the teacher responsible for the activity must understand the activity and the environment in which it will be conducted. This teacher must confer with the designated instructor about the supervisory role and establish areas of responsibility. If the teacher is not the designated instructor, he/she is to act on the advice of the designated instructor on technical safety issues.

Any staff member with a known medical condition that might compromise the group’s risk management plan should make accompanying staff aware of this condition. Issues of confidentiality and privacy will apply to any such disclosure.

Experience and qualifications

Staff involved in the planning and conduct of the activity should have sufficient knowledge and experience of the activity and its environment to operate in all foreseeable conditions.​

The designated cycling instructor(s) must have and provide evidence of having the following knowledge and skills:

Required knowledge

  • the implications of relevant Australian and international standards on equipment use and performance
  • relevant state legislation impacting on cycling activities
  • accepted industry best practice or recommendations (specified operating procedures, risk management guidelines, professional association's recommendations and/or current texts)
  • manufacturer's design specifications and recommendations for equipment use
  • cycling equipment
  • the technical aspects of cycling
  • first aid appropriate to the location
  • common injuries/ailments associated with cycle touring, and first aid for such
  • the selection and use of equipment for cycling
  • the effect of construction features of touring bicycles on their use
  • equipment and touring bicycle features that provide comfort
  • personal cycling gear
  • maintenance tools
  • road rules and cycling codes including rider etiquette
  • the efficient use of touring bicycle features
  • the location.

Required skills

  • personal cycling skills to a high level of technical competency
  • decision-making skills to tailor the activity to meet group needs
  • observation skills to maintain group control
  • problem-solving to eliminate or minimise hazards
  • ability to use repair equipment
  • first aid skills appropriate to the location.

The knowledge and skills above conform to the requirements of the Australian Outdoor Recreation Industry Training Package units SROCYT005A and SROCYT06A. For current information about relevant recreation industry training please refer to training.gov.au.

The designated assistant to the instructor should have sufficient experience in the activity and must:

  • be able to assume a supervisory role during the activity
  • be competent in emergency response procedures
  • have conferred with the instructor to establish the emergency response and supervision responsibilities.

Documentation of Staff Qualifications and Experience ​ (doc - 151kb) must be used to document staff qualifications/experience in lieu of qualifications.

Where an external contractor is chosen to run all or part of this activity, the guidelines for the use of External providers should be followed.

Supervision

Effective supervision is a critical factor in managing risk in the outdoors.

A minimum of two staff members must be present for each activity. One staff member is to have responsibility for instruction in the activity and the other is to assist the instructor.

The following table shows the minimum staff-to-student ratios that must be used for cycling.

ActivityStaff requiredStudent numbers
Cycling21-20
 321-30

It may be necessary to increase the number of staff allocated based on the:

  • age, maturity and gender of students
  • ability and experience of students
  • needs of individuals                     
  • dynamics of the student group
  • experience, qualifications and skills of staff
  • location of the activity
  • anticipated conditions at the location.

Reasons for increasing staff allocations must be documented.

The teacher in charge is responsible for the supervision strategy, which must be endorsed by the school council as part of the excursion approval process. Staff members should supervise students according to this strategy.

Overnight excursions

If the excursion has an overnight component, the Overnight camping guidelines may be relevant.

Informed consent

The school must receive consent from parents or guardians before their child may participate in adventure activities.

Informed consent should be based on an understanding of:

  • the educational purpose of the activity
  • the nature and details of the activity
  • the supervision strategy
  • other information deemed relevant by the school, parents or guardians.

Informed consent must be given in writing and signed by parents or guardians.

First aid

At least one member of staff responsible for each group of students must hold, as a minimum, a current (within 3 years) level two first aid qualification, a current (within 12 months) Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) qualification and have a first aid kit applicable to the level of training.

Staff members must carefully consider the nature and location of the excursion, as well as the medical history of the students, to determine the level of first aid training required by staff.  For example, if any student in the group has a history of of anaphylaxis and may require the use of an epi-pen, appropriately trained staff must be present.  See: Excursion Support – First Aid.

Common risks

School staff must refer to the Risk Management section of this website which explains how to prepare a risk register.  Risks and possible controls are also explained.

The list below identifies some risks in cycling activities.  Identifying risk is only one aspect of the risk assessment process. An activity-specific risk management plan must be completed which takes into account the specific conditions and unique participants of the activity.

Cycling specific risks
Sample risksSample controls

Poor or limited cycling skills lead to accident and/or injury.

Pre-activity planning will consider whether the planned cycle session matches the maturity and abilities of the group.  Student riding skills will be assessed before the activity.

Students will be given opportunities to gain sufficient practice in group riding techniques.

All students will wear AS/NZS 2063 compliant helmets.  Check to ensure the helmet is correctly fitted before and during cycling session.

Bicycles will be the correct size and type for the student and the riding conditions.

Students will be briefed on the effective use of brakes and gears, including emergency braking.  An appropriate time will be set aside for students to practise these skills.

Students will not be taken into traffic until they have demonstrated an adequate understanding of likely traffic conditions and the ability to respond safely to potential hazards.

A mechanical failure leads to an accident and injury.

Bicycles will be the correct size and type for the student and riding conditions.

All students will wear AS/NZS 2063 compliant helmets.  Check to ensure the helmet is correctly fitted before and during the cycling session.

Staff will complete pre-ride checks of bicycles and monitor bicycles during the ride.

Where a support vehicle is not being used, staff will develop a plan to manage accidents or breakdowns.

A steep descent leads to excessive speed and/or lack of control resulting in accident and injury.

Staff member will ride ahead to check for any hazards.

Students with limited confidence are not to undertake steep descents.  These students should walk their bicycle down the descent, on the shoulder of the road, after the other cyclists have descended.

Students will wear appropriate and correctly fitted helmets.

In steep sections, students will be separated before descent, using time interval departures.

The group and individual students will be effectively monitored.

A large group size results in poor supervision leading to accident and/or injury.

Supervising staff will make sure that they are able to communicate directly with students.

At least one member of the supervising staff will ride with the leading cyclists.

During the ride the group separates and, as a result, student(s) become lost or are exposed to uncontrolled hazards.

Students will be briefed on the need to stay in contact with the group.  Specific protocols for breakdowns and road intersections will be established.

One staff member will cycle at or near the front of the group and another staff member (or a support vehicle) will be at the rear.

Staff will make sure that there are frequent rest stops and head counts. Staff and students will wait for the entire group at road intersections.

Wet and/or windy weather conditions.

Staff will anticipate adverse weather conditions by monitoring weather and by direct observation.

Students will be briefed on the difficulty of straight steering in a cross-wind, and the increase in braking distance and the decrease in visibility and tyre traction in wet weather.

If possible, riding in wet and windy conditions will be practiced before the activity.

The group will seek shelter and/or not proceed if weather conditions are too severe.

A vehicle collision occurs

For all activities using public roads, students will be instructed on basic road rules and any specific requirements for that location.

Students will be briefed on procedures to cope with identified hazards on the route.

Other road users alerted to the presence of cyclists via signage.

All students will wear AS/NZS 2063 compliant helmets. Helmets will be checked to ensure they are correctly fitted.

Students will be briefed about the need for all riders and bicycles to be completely off the road during rest stops.

Generic risks
Sample riskSample controls

A pre-existing medical condition results in injury or illness during the excursion.

Staff will collect and then review current confidential medical information for all students and staff.  Where uncertainty exists, additional information will be sought.

At least one staff member will have a minimum of a level two first aid qualification and a first aid kit, which is appropriate to the activity and the environments to be encountered.

Medical information will be carried by staff on the excursion and referred to as necessary.

At the start of the excursion, staff will ensure that there is no new illness that may have an impact on the ability of the affected student(s) or staff to participate.  Consideration will also be given as to whether that illness might spread to others in the group.

The emergency response strategy will include communication and evacuation procedures.

Staff or student fatigue results in incident and/or injury.

During the planning phase, staff will consider the skills and experience of students and staff and make sure that the activity is suitable.

The group will adopt appropriately timed rest stops.   Food and water breaks will match the activity intensity, weather conditions and the group’s abilities.

Food and water intake will be monitored during the excursion to ensure all participants are eating and drinking adequately.

Staff will monitor each student and consider strategies to support the group and individuals. This may include altered intensity and loads, changing the activity, obtaining outside support, evacuations or cancellation of the activity.

Warm or cold weather conditions lead to a temperature-related illness.

Staff will consider the skills, age, experience and maturity of students and staff when determining the activity, season and venue.

Clothing and equipment will be suitable for the planned season and venue.

Staff will plan and/or adjust the activity in response to foreseeable and prevailing weather conditions.

The emergency response strategy will include responses for when students and/or staff are affected by heat or cold.

A group is caught in severe weather or a thunderstorm resulting in injury.

The chosen venue, activity and season will be appropriate to the group.

Staff will obtain regular Bureau of Meteorology weather forecasts for the specific area they will be in and, if necessary, adjust the activity.

Staff will observe the weather before and during the activity and adjust the activity accordingly.

Staff will consider exposure to tree and lightning hazards.

The emergency response strategy will include possible responses should severe weather or a thunderstorm occur.

A transport accident occurs while travelling to or from the venue.

The vehicle must be appropriately insured and maintained.  Where the vehicle is a bus, it must be regularly inspected by a licensed bus tester.

Drivers will have the appropriate drivers licence and certificates for the planned journey.  Drivers will perform a daily vehicle check (see the Victorian Bus & Truck Drivers Handbook​, Chapter 4, Vehicle Checks). In accordance with heavy vehicle driver fatigue laws (see transport), all drivers will take sufficient breaks from driving.  Drivers will also be sufficiently rested prior to driving.

Drivers will allow sufficient time for the planned journey and will adjust speed to suit the driving conditions.

A student or staff member suffers a bite or sting causing illness or death.

Students and staff will have clear and relevant clothing/equipment lists, which reflect the possibility of bites or stings, and have appropriate first aid equipment.

Staff will carry current and confidential medical information for all students and staff participating in the activity.  Staff will ensure there are appropriate medications available and an emergency response strategy to support a worsening condition.

Resources

Relevant documents
External resources