Tips & Resources
Summer is a great time to go bush with your bike for fun and fitness, however some country roads can take you in to bushfire territory.
The riding environment
A great riding environment is a great fire environment.
Australia is blessed to have great riding roads that wind through hills, valleys and along our coastlines, a short distance from our cities and towns.
During summer, these same environments can pose a significant bushfire risk.
While bike riding comes with a unique set of risks, riding in bushfire-ripe environments is ok, as long as the risks are fully accounted for.
Being aware and prepared can not only help you, but also local communities, emergency services and volunteers.
Do I stop or go?
It’s important that everyone who sets out on a ride during summer understands the Fire Danger Ratings.
Fire Danger Ratings tell you how uncontrollable a fire would be if it were to start. Fires on days of Severe, Extreme and Code Red Ratings will be fast moving and can threaten lives within minutes.
You should never ride in high-risk areas on these days. Bike riders are particularly vulnerable in bush and grassfire conditions.
An important thing to remember is that if a fire starts, road conditions will become dangerous. Smoke will make it difficult to breathe, visibility will be low and there’s an increased risk of collision with emergency vehicles and local residents on the road.
Warnings and advice
Once a fire has started there are three different levels of warnings:
- Advice: provides general information to keep you up to date with developments of a fire.
- Watch and Act: means that an emergency threatens you. Conditions are changing and you need to take action now to protect your life.
- Emergency Warning: you are in imminent danger and need to take action immediately. You will be affected by the emergency.
You can receive warnings on your mobile phone by downloading an emergency app – see a list of state-based apps below.
STAY INFORMED – DOWNLOAD THE APP
Download your state’s bushfire alert app and keep informed of conditions during the summer months. Many are linked to your phone’s GPS so can give you alerts based on your location.
CFS FireApp (SA)
Fires Near Me (New South Wales and ACT)
Fire Alert (QLD)
TAS Fires (TAS)
Emergency WA (WA)
If you find yourself near a bushfire you can also get updates from the ABC, Australia’s official emergency broadcaster. Click to find out how to listen to and watch ABC emergency broadcasts on radio, mobile, online and TV.
Have a plan
Whenever you ride during the warmer months, you need to think about the conditions and the potential for fire. Planning and staying informed is the only way to stay safe while riding. Here are some things to think about before every ride in a bushfire prone area:
- Always check weather conditions and the Fire Danger Rating for the area you’re riding in before you leave.
- Work out how you will stay informed. Be mindful that you may ride in an area where you can’t get phone or internet service.
- Monitor conditions while you ride, when you stop for a rest, check for warnings or any changes in the conditions.
- Tell people when you will leave, where you will go and when you expect to return.
- Make sure you have alternative routes out of an area in case roads become blocked.
- Always have a plan for an emergency. Fires can start from something as simple as a cigarette butt thrown out of a car window. Know if there are any Neighbourhood Safer Places, places of last resort or Community Refuges along your path. If you happen to see or smell smoke or flames, head for the nearest built-up area.
- Always put safety first – you could put your life, or lives of others such as emergency services workers, at risk if you ride in dangerous conditions.
What about smoke?
You don’t have to be riding in an area with fire activity to be affected by fire. Sometimes smoke can travel hundreds of kilometres and reduce the quality of air in an area where there are no fires.
When this happens it is a good idea to check the quality of the air in your area and decide if you feel comfortable to ride.
To decide if the air is good enough to ride in you can check our guide published during the Black Summer bushfires of 2019/20, as well as the World Air Quality Index project website.