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Setting Off

Remember your first bike? Those first faltering moments after the stabilisers came off? A lifetime of cycling starts here.

The cycling bug bites early. Getting that first bike - be it racer, tourer, mountain bike, Chopper or BMX - is as much a rite of passage as the first day at school or swimming without armbands. Cycling means a chance to travel, to explore, and spend time away from mum and dad.

These films evoke all the joy of a childhood on two wheels: the exploits and escapades, the stunts and tricks. But youthful exuberance has its risks, and film can be a powerful tool in making cycling safer.

Armed with a cycling proficiency certificate, a well-tuned bike and the lessons of a legion of public information films, the youngsters of yesteryear could ride with confidence - always remembering to keep an eye out for that dastardly villain, the bike thief...

"One of the most important days of my life was when I learned to ride a bicycle."

Michael Palin

triangle triangle
Setting Off


View Riding on Air
Riding on Air
Watch for free 16 mins

Riding on Air 1959

A beautiful and evocative survey of cycling's golden years.

16 mins United Kingdom

View It's a Bike!
It's a Bike!
Watch for free

It's a Bike! 1983

A ripe slice of 80s cheese: a lively, rapping cautionary tale for the young cyclist.

21 mins Great Britain Director. Frank Prendergast

View Tom's Ride
Tom's Ride
Watch from £0.85 11 mins

Tom's Ride 1944

Temptation on two wheels: should young Tom use the money he's found to buy himself a bike? Or should he do the right thing?

11 mins United Kingdom Director. Darrel Catling

View Riding Abreast
Riding Abreast
Watch for free

Riding Abreast 1940

Three carefree schoolgirl cyclists learn the dangers of 'riding abreast' in this quaint cautionary tale shot in idyllic countryside.

22 mins United Kingdom

View Cyclist Turning Right
Cyclist Turning Right
Watch for free 2 mins

Cyclist Turning Right 1983

Two young BMX-ers nearly come a cropper in this short and shocking cycling safety film.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Boy and Bicycle
Boy and Bicycle
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Boy and Bicycle 1965 PG

Ridley Scott's first film features his younger brother, the late Tony Scott, as a schoolboy playing truant for the day to meander around Hartlepool on his bicycle, lost in his own thoughts.

United Kingdom Director. Ridley Scott


View The Sky-Bike
The Sky-Bike

The Sky-Bike 1967 U

Schoolboy Tom Smith flies a man-powered flying machine to win a handsome prize.

United Kingdom Director. Charles Frend

View BMX (Here and Now, 1983)
BMX (Here and Now, 1983)
Watch for free 4 mins

BMX (Here and Now, 1983) 1983

Riders from the Birmingham Wheels Project show off the tricks and techniques of the new BMX craze.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Ballad of the Battered Bicycle
Ballad of the Battered Bicycle
Watch for free 10 mins

Ballad of the Battered Bicycle 1947

Henry demonstrates his two-wheel tomfoolery, but there's no happy ending for this bike.

10 mins United Kingdom

View Skid Kids
Skid Kids
Watch from £2.13

Skid Kids 1953

Young 'Swanky' Clarke, leader of the Burton Bullets Cycle Speedway Club, foils bicycle thieves on the streets of 1950s Bermondsey.

49 mins United Kingdom Director. Don Chaffey

View Good Cycles Deserve Good Riders
Good Cycles Deserve Good Riders
Watch for free 3 mins

Good Cycles Deserve Good Riders 1950

The car-free, Kodachrome streets of 1950s London offer an idyllic environment for acting out the 'wrongs' of cycling safety.

3 mins United Kingdom

View Mike Gets the Message
Mike Gets the Message
Watch for free 7 mins

Mike Gets the Message 1966

Mischievous Mike's dangerous bike antics on the granite streets of Old Aberdeen prompt a chain reaction involving police and a cycling proficiency test for teenage schoolboys.

7 mins

View Raleigh School of Cycling
Raleigh School of Cycling
Watch for free 13 mins

Raleigh School of Cycling 1955

Nottingham youngsters Pat and Adrian learn to ride the Raleigh way.

13 mins United Kingdom

View Be a Good Cyclist
Be a Good Cyclist
Watch for free 4 mins

Be a Good Cyclist 1950

Invaluable advice for the careful cyclist in a quintessentially British safety film.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Raleigh 'Raincheck' Advert
Raleigh 'Raincheck' Advert
Watch from £0.85 6 mins

Raleigh 'Raincheck' Advert 1976

Send in the clowns! Raleigh demonstrates its latest cycle safety innovation in unconventional style.

6 mins United Kingdom

View Stringing Along
Stringing Along
Watch for free 5 mins

Stringing Along 1947

Careless cyclists beware! This award-winning amateur film lays out the perils and pitfalls of the road for young riders.

5 mins United Kingdom Director. Alan C. Simpson

View The Kid with a Bike
The Kid with a Bike
Watch from £2.98

The Kid with a Bike 12

The Dardennes' powerful, award-winning drama tells of a troubled and volatile young teenager abandoned by his dad and 'adopted' by a hairdresser

Director. Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne

View A Boy Goes Cycling
A Boy Goes Cycling
Watch for free 15 mins

A Boy Goes Cycling 1963

Pedal power saves a dad's day in this colourful cycling safety film set in a sunny 60s South East London.

15 mins United Kingdom

View Pedal Cyclists
Pedal Cyclists
Watch for free 2 mins

Pedal Cyclists 1947

A witty, eccentric guide to safety on two wheels under the watchful eye of a pedalling angel.

2 mins United Kingdom Director. Richard Massingham

View Road Signs and Signals
Road Signs and Signals
Watch for free 15 mins

Road Signs and Signals 1947

Cycling safety, 40s style, in a charming and unexpectedly exhilarating film shot in and around Leek, Staffordshire.

15 mins United Kingdom

View Cycling Proficiency
Cycling Proficiency
Watch for free 8 mins

Cycling Proficiency 1949

Kids learn to ride like the pros thanks to Britain's first cycling proficiency tests.

8 mins United Kingdom Director. Ralph Cathles

View Cycling Proficiency Scheme: Father and Son
Cycling Proficiency Scheme: Father and Son
Watch for free 1 mins

Cycling Proficiency Scheme: Father and Son 1959

"Dad... I want a bike!” Fun animated campaign aimed at 50s parents and their over-eager offspring.

1 mins United Kingdom Director. Allan Smith

View Tony Buys a Bike
Tony Buys a Bike
Watch for free 17 mins

Tony Buys a Bike 1942

A lucky schoolboy gets a brand new bike for Christmas in this charming wartime promotional film.

17 mins United Kingdom

View No Short Cut
No Short Cut
Watch for free 17 mins

No Short Cut 1964

This paean to the virtues of the Cycling Proficiency test is unusually told from the point-of-view of the bicycles themselves.

17 mins United Kingdom Director. Anthony Simmons

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