Blood Bikes

Blood Bikes

Posted by Mike Werner on Feb 2nd 2016

It sounds ominous, but it’s anything but that. No, Blood Bikes are motorcycles that are not feuding, or just colored red (in fact, they’re colored yellow) or even vampire bikes. Blood Bikes is a term given in the United Kingdom for a group of volunteer bikers who deliver … blood.

Hosted by the NABB, Nationwide Association of Blood Bikers, there are some 1500 motorcycle riding volunteers who deliver emergency medical supplies in England. Grouped together in different “chapters”, each group has several dedicated motorcycles for their volunteers. The first such Blood Biker was created in 1960’s in the U.K.

Volunteers are not paid, but do require strict licensing and training in order to bring emergency medical supplies to hospitals. One of the most important items they can carry is blood, but it’s not only blood they carry. Breast milk, vaccines, medical equipment, test results, x-rays, anything that needs to be brought to another medical facility in a rush and can fit on a motorcycle.


The volunteers go on a 12-hour shift, usually at night, and get to take one of the dedicated motorcycles home. They mostly use Honda Pan-European or other long distance bikes, colored high visibility yellow and usually carry blue strobe lights and sirens. Yes, you guessed it, in many cases they are allowed to run red light (but only if carrying time sensitive materials).

The organizations are well oiled and have processes in place. Long distance travel is avoided by using a hand-off system. If for example blood needs to be transported to another city, the Blood Biker who receives the blood pouch transports it to somewhere predefined outside the city. There, it’s handed over to another biker who brings it to the suburbs of the other city, where it is again handed over to another Blood Biker who brings it to the target hospital. This way they use bikers who know the lay-of-the-land and will not get lost.

This saves the British medical system a lot of time and money, and it saves many lives. The 1,500 Blood Bikers make some 40,000 trips per year, so you can see that there is an important use for this essential service. It also increases he goodwill of the people towards bikers in general.

New laws have passed recently, allowing the Blood Bikers to receive tax benefits for their equipment.

So far, this kind of service is only available in the United Kingdom, but already countries like Canada and Australia have expressed interest in such a medical service.

Do you think this will work in the USA? Is this something you would want to do?

Source: National Geographic