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Rider Safety

Assessing rider fatigue and frequent communication with the rider on a long shift / period of duty is one of the most important functions a coordinator needs to undertake. In addition the duty of care the charity has to the welfare of its members cannot be over stressed. It is a primary consideration for an advanced rider before riding or driving is “am I fit to ride” therefore do not hesitate to ask any rider how they are feeling.

Additionally, the other factor the coordinator can assess independently is the weather state for the shift.

Weather advice / guidance

If there is a forecast of severe weather such as ice (see next section), high winds, torrential rains or flooding then a Rider or Coord may reject jobs on the grounds of safety.


During periods of adverse weather conditions, Coordinators must review the weather conditions for the area of operation, using the following website as a common benchmark to determine the live temperature data across the region. The website to be used is:-

Temperatures for Filton, Lulsgate, Dunkeswell, Yeovilton, Boscombe Down and Lyneham must be noted. If the average* temperature across these points is 0°C (+/- 0.5°C to allow for ongoing temperature variation) then the Coordinator may make a decision, following discussion with a Trustee or the Bike Maintenance Officer, to suspend the service using the Charity Bikes.

The use of four wheeled vehicles may be considered at the vehicle owner’s discretion, subject to appropriate insurance cover, if it is considered safe to do so. Members may recover any mileage costs using the appropriate expenses form on the Freewheelers website (or ask the Treasurer for a copy) if they wish to do so. The Coord also needs to record whether a personal vehicle is used on their shift to report this to the Stats Coordinator.

Coordinators will need to manage the expectations of NHS callers and ascertain whether any request is genuinely urgent and whether this warrants the risk of asking a member to use a personal vehicle, once use of the Charity machines is suspended. For all such requests, Coordinators must seek the vehicle owner’s agreement before any job is accepted. The NHS caller must then be advised of the outcome to complete the call process.

An alternative option if a request is really urgent is to ask the caller to contact Wessex 4×4 (a courtesy call to Wessex 4×4 first might be prudent, so that they will be aware that they may receive extra calls. Please contact a member of the committee for their number.

*For the avoidance of doubt, add all of the six temperatures together then divide the total by six. This provides the average.



NHSBT have a national guideline that blood products for transfusion should not be carried on motorcycles when the temperature is at or below 2 degrees Celsius. This does not apply to samples. SERV already comply with this, but they set the temperature criteria at 3 degrees so we adopt the same temperature for consistency. To avoid any circumstances where our riders might be turned away from Filton during cold weather, the Coord should check on the BBC Weather website and if the temperature is too low i.e. if it is currently at or below 3 degrees Celsius, then either decline the call or (if available) assign a car.

The BBC website shows temperatures over the next 24 hour period as well as current observed temperature. Please check the temperature at the destination as well as Bristol as we can have quite a variation in our region. You should take the lowest of the current observed or forecast temperature during the period that the run will take place.  –  Bristol  –  Taunton


Rider Fatigue

The coordinator has an important role as an independent monitor of rider fatigue. Riders should be asked to self-assess fatigue levels at the start of each run and on return home, on a level from 1 (fully rested) to 5 (too tired to ride).

Hours worked and distances travelled are readily noted with the aid of the tracker.

The agreed policy is a maximum continuous working time of four hours after which a half hour break must be taken. A break is any relaxing activity unrelated to riding or Freewheelers business. Some flexibility is allowable for convenience, etc. but this should be the aim.

Most riders and coords apply these judgements already as part of advanced riding practice, but in the excitement of a busy shift stress and exhaustion can affect decision making as well as concentration. Riders often want to press on and complete their tasks, so coords need be firm with them occasionally and insist they rest.

Riders must not feel they are letting down the charity or our customers by resting when necessary to maintain concentration. Our NHS customers understand this; there is nearly always an alternative means available to transport their consignment if its delivery cannot be delayed while the rider rests.

Additionally, the coordinator should be aware of riders’ journey plans and keep an eye on their progress and activity during jobs. The tracker gives up to date location and motion information. Lack of routine contact or no vehicle movement for an unexpected time may indicate a problem.