‘Bike buses’ catch on as a cool way to commute to school
“Bike buses” — adult-led group bike rides to school — are taking over neighborhoods.
Many families are ditching cars for a sweatier morning ride with friends, biking miles in organized clusters led by adult volunteers.
The effort is a call to combat climate change, encourage exercise and reduce school drop-off traffic.
And, parents and kids both say, it just makes the children happier.
Minneapolis dad Devin Olson organized a bike bus for his local school zone. Olson is the co-founder of Minneapolis Bike Parks, a grassroots organization that makes parks more bike-friendly.
Olson partnered with Minneapolis Public Schools to helm a 2-mile bike bus that dropped off students at two elementary schools.
So far, Olson has led 11 semi-annual bike buses that have grown from about 60 participants to nearly 150.
"We meet at 8 a.m. to play soccer and football and eat donuts," Olson said. "Then we review safety measures and start our ride. It's nothing but laughing, yelling and pure joy.
"The group makes about eight stops along the way to pick up children, many of whom are accompanied by parents or older siblings.”We want kids to celebrate going to school," explained Olson, adding that the kids who participate enjoy opportunities to mingle with peers in different grades.
Bike buses are also popular in other countries, like Spain and Canada.
Tom Barnes and Rebecca Mudge, educators in Canada, joined a bike bus to transport their daughters Clara, 6, and Lily, 4, to school in London, Ontario.
Their children are enthusiastic about their bike bus experience.
Clara said, "I like that I get to ride with friends from school and that everyone is welcome. We have people who ride scooters too."
In Portland, Oregon, Sam Balto, a physical education coach at Alameda Elementary School, says bike buses "unlocked something I wasn't prepared for".
In April 2022, Balto launched a weekly bike bus for his school community, attracting 75 riders.
This year, those rides have continued with anywhere from 150 to 190 people.