Bike buddies

Guidelines for Bike Buddying: a three-step process

1. Initial meeting to discuss route & equipment

  • Meet up with your prospective buddy for coffee, find out what level of cycling experience they have. Ask them to bring their bike and dress for cycling.
  • Take bicycle maps and/or street directory to map out the best route with your buddy, try to match the route to their level of traffic experience.
  • Discuss the equipment they have and check if there is anything they will need to get. If they will be riding at dusk/after dark ensure they have good lights. Use the checklist.
  • Check they are a member of Bicycle Queensland. If not request that they join before the test ride. If they have not cycled recently suggest that they do some short rides before the test ride.

2. Sunday test ride

  • Meet up for a test ride of the route at a quiet time such as Sunday morning. Check bicycle set-up and equipment. Ride at a pace that is comfortable for them. Stop along the way and talk through the next section of the route and discuss particular hazards, intersections etc. Ask for feedback to make sure they are feeling safe and comfortable.
  • Answer any questions or concerns they have.
  • Ride back to ensure they are comfortable with the return route (remember the return trip will have a different set of challenges and may even take a totally different route)
  • If they are new to cycling on roads you might want to start the ride in a convenient park or other suitable unthreatening public space and practice braking, looking over shoulder, riding around hazards etc.

3. Ride to work (and return)

  • Meet somewhere that they are comfortable to cycle to. Allow more time than the ride would normally take so that you are not under time-pressure and can stop for any reason.
  • Allow time for a debrief at the end of the ride.
  • Arrange to meet them at the end of the day to ride the return route (this may be on a different day depending what suits them and you).

Being a bike buddy involves a bit of time but it is also rewarding and offers the opportunity to encourage more people to cycle more often.

Bike Buddy Checklist

1. Are you a Bicycle Queensland member?

2. Equipment and bike set-up

  • Bicycle in good working order – brakes, gears, tyres inflated, chain lubricated
  • Helmet & Safety vest
  • Lights
  • Suitable clothing
  • Water bottle
  • Puncture repair kit

3. Ride Planning

  • Identify a route suited to their skills – Bikely, the BikeQLD wikiBCC bike maps, or the BCC/BQ bikeway experience CD may be of additional assistance
  • Identify potential hazards – intersections, squeeze points, car doors, pedestrians
  • Non-verbal signals – stop/slow down/right or left turn/hazard
  • Road Rules pertinent to cyclists eg. 2 abreast is legal, taking the whole lane is allowed, riding on the footpath
  • Practice traffic skills – looking over shoulder, braking
  • Pre-ride preparation – stretching, bike check

4. At Work

5. Please provide feedback from your experience to improve these guidelines.

CBD BUG gratefully acknowledges the work of BIKEast (NSW), upon whose work these guidelines are based.

Bike Buddying Tips

(developed by Fiona Campbell from MASSBUG, NSW)


  • to provide an enjoyable experience to encourage them to continue; and
  • to instil confidence and impart knowledge to enable them to continue.


Patience is paramount

  • The sacrifice is worth it, to empower another person to ride.

Keep at their speed

  • Frustrating or difficult as it is at times.

Stay within their comfort zone

  • Don’t push too fast, they will need time to acquire skills & confidence.
  • When you make decisions (go/stop for orange light, sufficient gap to turn right) always make it for their level of skill and confidence.
  • Don’t overestimate their ability. Be conservative.

Don’t assume skill level

  • They may not know how to use gears or do other things you take for granted.

  • I once explained it was easier to start at the lights by starting with the pedal near the top. I didn’t realise they didn’t know you could spin the pedal backwards to get it in place.
  • Watch for or ask about things that may need explaining.

Use running commentary ‘think out loud’

  • To explain what is happening and what’s next and to gradually impart knowledge.
  • Tell them ahead of time where the next turn is; what to expect up the road; to watch at this intersection for cars from the left because they sometimes don’t look; to watch out for opening doors around here, especially if parked car brake lights go off; avoid metal service covers when wet; hit kerb ramp lips at a good angle; etc.
  • They won’t absorb everything, so over time repeat the important things to look out for.

Frequent feedback

  • Regularly check how they feel about what they’re experiencing. Is this speed ok? Are you comfortable with how we handled that driver back there?
  • Make sure they are within their comfort zone and enjoying the experience – or they won’t continue.

Keeping safe

Be clear and consistent in your decisions and body language.

  • Make the call on whether to stop/go at lights (but have an agreement that personal judgement can always override). Use body language to convey who goes through the tight bit/up the kerb ramp first (best to have a protocol with them first).

Make decisions based on their skill/comfort level, not yours.

Suspend conversation at complex situations, to avoid distraction.

Be ready for the unexpected from the traffic as well as from them – the unexpected wobble or fall

Ride more safely and visibly

  • You will need to ride in a more “vehicular cycling” style: two abreast most of the time (yes, it’s legal) and wait in traffic rather than lane split through gaps in the traffic. The latter is too unpredictable to keep your charge safe, and the cars will give you more leeway if you’re acting like proper traffic. When two abreast ride on their right. When you do ride single file, ride behind and a little further out.

Specific problems

Hitting bollards or potholes

New cyclists may concentrate too hard the bollard or pothole they fear and may end up hitting it. Get them to focus just on the line they want to ride (between the bollards or beside the pothole) and the bike will follow.

Too slow downhill

Check they have confidence in their braking. Practice braking safely at faster speeds. Other than that, it’s a very sensible fear of going fast which will only mitigate with time. Distracting them with conversation so they don’t focus too hard on staying slow can help.

Trouble starting / riding slowly (eg. among pedestrians on shared path)

Explain as much as you can and encourage them to practice these skills at every opportunity.

Be prepared to fix a puncture

Have the gear ready and preferably be practiced so you don’t make it look too hard. Or have a fall back plan (a maxi taxi number).

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