Cycling (mountain bike, off road)


Guideline review date: 28 October 2021

This guideline is provided to support schools in implementing the managing risks in school curriculum activities procedure.

The CARA planner must be used for the specific school context in conjunction with this guideline considering additional risks, hazards and controls and including environmental, facility, equipment and student considerations.

For activities beyond the scope of this guideline, complete a CARA record using the CARA generic template.

Activity scope

This guideline relates to student participation in off-road cycling on a mountain bike on trails rated up to and including intermediate as an activity to support curriculum delivery. For road, track or path cycling, refer to cycling: road, track and path activity guideline.

Note: This activity does not include student participation on trails rated high and extreme according to the Australian trail difficulty rating system produced by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

Depending on the scope of this activity, other risk assessments may be required when planning. Curriculum activities encompassing more than one CARA guideline (e.g. cycling: road, track, path while camping) must comply with the requirements of all CARA guidelines appropriate to the activity.

For activities conducted at a non-Department of Education venue, and/or when engaging external expertise, request written risk assessment advice and attach it to this CARA record.

For activities conducted off-site, schools must comply with the school excursions procedure.

For activities conducted as part of representative school sport programs, schools should consult with Queensland School Sport.

Risk level

High risk
Cycling on mountain/off-road tracks on trails up to and including intermediate according to the Australian trail difficulty rating system produced by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

Activity requirements

If any requirement cannot be met, the activity must not occur.

If any other safety recommendation cannot be met, modify the activity (or elements of it) and/or identify and use the hierarchy of controls to implement alternative control measures to meet or exceed the minimum safety standard.

All risk levels

Reference to Australian adventure activity standard and cycling and mountain biking Australian adventure activity good practice guide is required when planning this activity.

Prior consultation is required with local authority (e.g. Department of Environment and Science [for track closures] and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services) for local advice, emergency support mechanisms and additional supervision requirements to ensure participant and public safety.

Permission/permits are required to be obtained from land managers (e.g. QGPF, local councils or private landholders), if applicable.

Road rules must be observed, where applicable.

Participants can only use mountain/off-road tracks trails rated up to and including intermediate.



Principals make final supervision decisions for the activity. Sufficient adult supervision must be provided to manage the activity safely (including emergency situations).

For activities with students with a medical condition or disability that may impact on safety during the activity, consultation with parents is required prior to allocating supervision to determine the impact of students' medical condition or disability on safety during the activity.

The number of adult supervisors required to fulfil emergency and supervision roles must consider the nature of the activity, students' ages, abilities and specialised learning, access and/or health needs. The cycling and mountain biking Australian adventure activity good practice guide should be consulted for supervision ratios.

All adult supervisors able to identify, and respond to, risks or hazards that may emerge during the activity.

Before the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be familiar with the contents of the CARA record
  • must assess weather conditions, and obtain accurate information on tides, depths, currents and other expected water conditions (if applicable) prior to undertaking the activity, inspecting the intended location in order to identify variable risks, hazards and potential dangers.

During the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be readily identifiable
  • must closely monitor students with health support needs
  • must accompany inexperienced students
  • must comply with control measures from the CARA record and adapt as hazards arise
  • must suspend the activity if the conditions become unfavourable (e.g. poor visibility, extreme temperatures, thunderstorms)
  • must not allow the use of tracks rated high and extreme according to the Australian trail difficulty rating system produced by the International Mountain Bicycling Assocation (IMBA).

Supervisor qualifications

Principals make final decisions in determining supervisor capability (competence, relevance and currency) and are responsible for encouraging and enabling school-based activity supervisors to raise their qualifications to improve safety standards.

All adult supervisors must comply with the working with children authority—blue cards procedure and be able to identify, and respond to, risks or hazards that may emerge during the activity.

A registered teacher must be appointed to maintain overall responsibility for the activity.

At least one adult supervisor is required to be either:

Refer to the cycling and mountain biking Australian adventure activity good practice guide and sport, fitness and recreation training package for further information on supervisor qualifications.

Facilities and equipment

The qualified adult supervisor of the activity, in consultation with the principal, determines the requirements for facilities and equipment appropriate to the local context.

Location must be suitable for the activity being undertaken. Consider the geography when planning the route, minimising the number of extreme inclines and sharp corners where possible, in relation to experience of students. Consult cycling and mountain biking Australian adventure activity good practice guide.

Adult supervisors must walk and cycle the course to check the level of difficulty including gradients, altitude gain and any other hazards, prior to students cycling it to ascertain suitability. Surface suitability, hazards, rate of traffic flow and use of off-road tracks suitable to age, maturity and skill level of participants.

Participants must wear secured and correctly fitted helmets that are without defect (Australian Standard AS/ANZ 2063-2008 compliant) for the duration of the activity.

Participants must wear personal protective equipment as relevant (e.g. enclosed footwear, sunglasses, brightly coloured vests or clothing that is close fitting and appropriate for weather conditions, gloves, elbow pads, knee pads and wrist guards).

Equipment must be sized to match the ability and strength of students.

All equipment must be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

A retirement schedule must be developed to replace equipment (e.g. bicycles, helmets) by manufacturers' nominated expiry date or when significant wear causes a hazard.

Establish and employ a process for checking for damage for all equipment used in the activity. Bicycle and equipment checks to be carried out before each activity by appropriately competent adult supervisors.

Bicycles and tyres appropriate for the activity and terrain that have been maintained, inspected and serviced regularly by an appropriately competent person must be used ensuring:

  • brakes function as designed and provide effective braking
  • wheels are firmly attached and have no loose or damaged spokes and are sufficiently straight and true
  • tyres have sufficient tread and are at the appropriate pressure
  • all bearing surfaces and fittings are appropriately adjusted
  • handlebars are suitably tightened to prevent movement and handlebar grips and plugs are fitted and secured
  • pedals are intact and saddles are attached and secure
  • seat posts do not exceed the manufacturers specified maximum height after adjustment
  • appropriate parts lubricated
  • lights work where appropriate
  • bar end plugs are fitted.

A log of equipment use, maintenance and inspection for bicycles must be kept

Supplies must be available for all participants (e.g. individual drinking containers in a bike carrier or camelback style backpack, a whistle, insect repellent, sunscreen, personal hygiene items as necessary, food, a plastic bag for rubbish and a personal first aid kit).

Emergency maintenance equipment must be available (e.g. chain breaker, pliers, spoke key, spanner, pump, puncture repair kit).

Compass and/or other navigation aids and a waterproof method for storing must be available.

A support vehicle accessible to the cyclists to transport exhausted riders or defective bicycles must be available. This vehicle can be used for emergencies, must be registered with Queensland Transport and Main Roads and should be suitably signed, giving warning to motorists that cyclists are on the road.

Hazards and controls

Further to those listed, include any additional hazards and control measures considering the local context of the activity.

Environmental hazards Control measures
Animal bites/diseases

Observe wildlife from a safe distance.

Instruct students not to feed wildlife and how to respond to approaching wildlife.

Adhere to established practices regarding the use of insect repellent, outlined in insect viruses and allergies.

Environmental conditions

The school's sun safety strategy must be followed.

Brief all participants on:

  • purpose of the activity and potential hazards (e.g. thorned flora, steep slopes)
  • basic first aid procedures for biological hazards they may encounter (e.g. snakes, ticks, leeches)
  • appropriate toileting procedures for the duration of the ride.

Constantly monitor surroundings for weather, terrain and wildlife hazards during the activity.

Follow the managing excessive heat in schools guidelines when participating in very hot or extreme heat conditions.

Monitor participants for cold related illness (e.g. hypothermia) in cold weather conditions.

Ensure drink breaks occur regularly. Make water available for individual participants between drink breaks.

Ensure that groups of riders have intervals between them so traffic flow is not hindered. Riders must remain in single file on busy single lane roads, if applicable.

Facilities and equipment hazards Control measures

Regular equipment checks to be conducted during the activity on all parts of bicycles (e.g. brakes, tyres, chains and gears, handlebars and seats).

Ensure spare equipment is available in case of emergency.

Study route/provide maps to the participants prior to the activity.

Student considerations Control measures

Students aware of the location of emergency and first-aid equipment.

Physical exertion
Exhaustion and fatigue

Continually monitor students for fear and/or hesitancy, loss of balance, signs of fatigue and exhaustion.

Establish regular rest stops, considering the age and fitness level of students.

Carry out route briefings at the rest stops.

Student issues
Student numbers
Special needs
High risk behaviours
Medical conditions
Separation from the group

Adopt system of signals to clearly communicate the need for assistance if in difficulty.

Remove accessories (e.g. jewellery, lanyards) before participating.

Ensure fingernails and hair do not pose a hazard.

Footwear to be appropriate to the activity.

Maintain contact between all group members through regular checks on group numbers.

Implement procedures (e.g. buddy system, roll marking mechanisms) to account for all participants.

Appoint designated group roles (e.g. leader, group member, tail end).

Brief all participants on:

  • appropriate behaviours to help keep themselves safe during the activity (e.g. monitor speed on steep down hill grades. Avoid skidding and sliding around turns)
  • procedure should a participant become separated or lost from the group.​


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Last updated 06 September 2023