Cycle-based Breakdown Patrols

AA returns to pedal power at Wimbledon

23 June 2008

one of the AA's new cycle-based breakdown patrols

Wimbledon fans can be forgiven for doing a double take if their car breaks down at this year's tournament and the AA turns up to fix it – on a bicycle.

The UK's biggest motoring organisation is launching a new team of cycle-based breakdown patrols to tackle traffic chaos at big events.

With 60,000 cars and more than 100 breakdowns expected over the two weeks of Wimbledon, the bikes will cut through busy car parks to help ease the chronic delays that often result for thousands of revellers.

an early AA patrol with bicycle They will go on to target hard-to-reach breakdowns at other sports events, concerts and festivals throughout the summer.

The new pushbikes represent a return to century-old roots for the AA, best known for its familiar yellow vans. The first AA patrols rode cycles from 1905 – some 40 years before patrol vans – and they were a regular sight on the nation's roads until the 1930s.

AA Road Operations Director Steve Dewey says: "Pushbikes are the next step in a new 'two-wheeled' strategy at the AA, following the reintroduction of motorbikes to tackle congestion and emissions in London. We are harnessing the manoeuvrability of two wheels where this means quicker service to members. Wimbledon is the first outing for AA cycles, but they will be a regular sight at big events throughout the year."

AA cycle patrol Vince Rodriguez says: "I love bikes and helping drivers get back on the road – as an AA cycle patrol I'll have the best of both worlds. Make no mistake, I'm still there to fix breakdowns. But by getting on my bike I can cut straight to the chase: in tight-packed traffic two wheels are faster than four.

a group of cycle-based AA breakdown patrols "Wimbledon should be about tennis not tedium. Snarl-ups can spoil a good day out. But one driver's breakdown needn't be a spanner in the works for thousands more. Pedal power will get us in quicker to fix the problem and get everyone moving again."

The AA has been associated with Wimbledon for over 80 years, providing motoring support including signage, parking management and breakdown assistance since the 1920s.


A team of up to six AA cycle patrols will target breakdowns at major events throughout the summer. They will initially target flat batteries, wheel changes and minor electrical faults, which cause over a third of all breakdowns, but can also deal with a range of other problems.

The AA's new generation of Smith & Wesson bicycles – similar to those used by the Police and St. John Ambulance – have been specially modified and fitted with state of the art compact tool kits.

Features include:

  • on or off road capability
  • fully adjustable suspension
  • 18 gears
  • front disc brake
  • re-chargeable headlight torch
  • purpose designed pannier bags carrying a compact repair kit which includes a battery pack, jack, electronic diagnostic tester and a range of other lightweight tools and equipment, and
  • purpose designed uniforms for maximum visibility and comfort in all weather conditions

The AA's earliest patrols used bicycles to move around warning motorists of speed traps ahead. The AA made widespread use of cycles from its foundation in 1905 till the early 1920s but they were still used in outlying rural areas until 1939. Solo motorcycles were first introduced around 1910 with motorcycle-sidecar combinations entering service in 1920. Road Service patrol vans were not used until after the Second World War, but have since come to dominate the fleet.

The AA has around 3,000 patrols across the UK, and attends breakdowns on a 24-7 basis, 365 days a year.

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23 June 2008