Discover local, cycle-friendly routes and build your confidence on a bike with the help of our "Cycle Buddies". Cycle Buddies are trained volunteers who know your local area well. They will meet you in your neighbourhood, accompany you on gentle bike rides and provide one-to-one support in a relaxed setting. To be matched with someone who can help, fill in our short online form and we'll be in touch to discuss your situation. Please note this service is for Bristol residents only. For more information about how the scheme works, use the menu below to browse our page.
Cycle Buddy sessions are still safely running while COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
Click on the links below to skip to the relevant section
What’s on offer?
Looking to get back on a bike? Want to find the best routes to friends’ houses, work or the local shops? Want some company on bike rides? We can help you make cycling part of your everyday life. You’ll be matched with a fully-trained volunteer who can help you:
• Discover cycle-friendly routes from your door to places you’d like to reach.
• Enjoy sociable bike rides with someone from your local area.
To start off with, you’ll meet one-to-one. Between you, you’ll decide how often you cycle, where to go and how far to ride. As you grow more confident you’ll have the option to meet other participants and go for rides in groups of up to four people. The Cycle Buddies scheme is all about having fun and discovering new places by bike. No pressure, no competition, just cycling.
“It was fantastic to be shown around my local area by someone with so much knowledge. She was so supportive and kind! I will now look forward to more rides and cannot thank you enough for the introduction!” - Ellie
How many rides can I go on?
You can have up to five sessions with a cycle buddy. For most people, five sessions are enough to get the tools to cycle independently. However, you may feel you need more sessions, in which case we can discuss whether it would be best to have more sessions with your buddy, a different buddy or join a cycling group.
Where do the sessions take place?
We aim to match you with a volunteer who lives locally so they can show you nearby cycle paths and quiet routes. You can stay local or explore new places. It’s entirely up to you and what you feel comfortable with.
Being matched with a Cycle Buddy is not about:
• Long-distance cycling or cycle racing.
• Learning how to cycle (you will have up to three, free lessons with a qualified cycling instructor before going out with your buddy).
• Campaigning for better cycle infrastructure.
• Match-making in a romantic sense!
• Having counselling or therapy.
Who can take part?
Anyone aged 18+ who lives in Bristol and wants to get back into cycling, or cycling more often in friendly company. For safety reasons during the COVID 19 pandemic, we cannot work with complete beginners so you must be able to ride a bike continuously for several minutes without wobbling.
You won’t have to ride on busy roads. However, we will start by giving you a free, one-to-one lesson with a qualified cycle instructor to make sure you are feeling confident with signaling, using gears and road positioning. If you would like more tuition, you can take up to three, FREE lessons with a qualified cycle instructor before you are matched with a buddy.
How much does it cost?
Our Cycle Buddies scheme is completely free of charge, thanks to funding from Wesport and United Communities’ “Solon Coronavirus Community Fund”.
What happens after I sign up?
Once you have submitted the form, we will contact you to find out what you are hoping to get out of the scheme. We’ll arrange your cycle lesson with an instructor and when you feel ready, we’ll match you with a suitable volunteer from your local area.
Your buddy will then call you to introduce themselves, get to know you a little and then agree a time and date for your first meeting. When you meet, your buddy will be wearing a Life Cycle UK branded blue top and will show you their photo ID.
What do I need to bring?
You will need a roadworthy bike and suitable clothing for the weather that day. On cold days, gloves are recommended. On warmer days, bring water, sunglasses and a visor or hat.
Make sure you have any medication you need with you. Please make us aware of any medical conditions on the sign-up form and let your buddy know before you set off together.
What happens if I don’t have a bike?
If you don’t have your own bike, or you aren’t sure if yours is roadworthy, please let us know on the sign-up form. We can help you borrow or buy an affordable bike - or get yours fixed.
Do I need to wear a helmet?
Wearing a helmet is not a legal requirement so we advise you to do whatever makes you feel comfortable.
Our volunteers are fully trained to work with less confident cyclists and have excellent knowledge of cycling in Bristol, particularly their local area. If you would prefer to be matched with a volunteer of a particular gender, please let us know on the sign-up form.
All volunteers are DBS checked and will show you their photo ID at your first meeting.
Safety during COVID-19
Current Public Health England guidelines state that you can meet one person from a different household for exercise, provided you keep at least two meters’ distance from each other at all times. After undertaking risk assessments and consulting with our volunteers, we are confident that riding is with a cycle buddy is safe for people who are healthy and not in a high-risk group. If you are unsure whether it is safe for you to cycle, we suggest you follow these guidelines on safe cycling during COVID-19 from Cycling UK. As always, our volunteers will be observing strict safe systems of working guidelines for COVID-19. Click here for information on the symptoms of COVID-19.
We have provided some resources below to help the people we can't currently support:
• Starting cycling: the basics (article by British Cycling)
• How to teach an adult to ride a bike (video by Cycling UK)
• Safe cycling during COVID 19 (always up-to-date article by Cycling UK)
• Simple bike maintenance guides (from Cycling UK).
From April 2021 we will be offering short cycling courses in the Bristol area for people who are new or returning to cycling. If you would be interested in hearing more about these courses, please register your interest here.
Stay in touch
We offer a variety of services to help people get the most out of cycling. This includes selling affordable, refurbished bikes and bike servicing. For the latest Life Cycle updates, special offers and prizes:
Terms and conditions
What you can and can’t expect from your Cycle Buddy
Your cycle buddy is there to listen to you and help you meet your cycling goals at your own pace. They will not push you to cycle further or faster than you feel comfortable with – and they will choose routes that are suitable for your confidence and skill levels.
Our Cycle Buddies are trained volunteers who have been approved to ride with a less-confident cyclist by one of our qualified cycle instructors. Cycle Buddies themselves are not qualified cycling instructors and therefore they will not be providing cycle lessons. You can have up to three, FREE cycle lessons with one of our qualified instructors before you go out with your buddy. You can have up to five sessions with your Buddy – and then review the next steps at the end of the fifth session. However, you do not have to use all five sessions and you can end the Buddy match at any time. Just let us know.
Mental health support
If you disclose to us that you are experiencing mental health challenges, you will be matched with a buddy who has received additional training in this area. However, your buddy is not a qualified counsellor or therapist. Our Cycle Buddy rides are not a replacement for sessions with a professional counsellor or therapist.
To help us protect our volunteers and participants, we expect both parties to bring a valid, up-to-date photo ID with them to their first meeting. You will need to show your photo ID to your Buddy when you first meet up. Both you and your buddy have the right to terminate the session at any time if you feel ill or unsafe.
If you need to cancel before the session, please give your Cycle Buddy at least 24 hours’ notice. You should contact your Buddy directly by phone or text to let them know.
You and your Cycle Buddy will be covered by our £10m public liability insurance for accidents/incidents during rides together. However, bikes are not insured if unattended, even if locked up. We recommend insuring your bike if you can: You can insure most standard bikes for under £5 per month.