With bike buses, kid cyclists feel safer together on the road

By Maxwell Adler, Bloomberg CityLab, February 10, 2022

“Call it a bike bus, a bike train, or a cycle bus. With safety, health, and camaraderie in mind, people from Barcelona to Duluth, Georgia, have been gathering in large groups and riding to and from schools [on a set route at the same time of day], creating a more protected route to school for some kids.

“ ‘Bike buses create a safe environment for kids and they are a great way to raise visibility for cycling infrastructure,’ said Dr. Jennifer Dill, director of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University.

“The phenomenon isn’t new. But as cycling took off during the pandemic, robust new bike bus initiatives have sprung up (video 1:33).

“The number of kids who walk or bike to school in the U.S. and elsewhere is just a fraction of what it was decades ago. With bike buses, the packs of cyclists are harder for cars to miss — and sometimes take up the full width of the road, leaving enough room for a few adults to shepherd larger groups of students safely.

According to one co-founder of San Francisco’s own bike bus, Kid Safe SF, it was only feasible after the city’s Slow Street’s program limited through traffic on two corridors along a route to his children’s school.

“The San Francisco bike bus has nearly doubled in size since its inception in December. Some adults have started joining the rides even though they don’t have any kids to drop off at school. Teachers have [said] that students report feeling more energized after bike bus rides.

“The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote March 2 on whether to permanently designate some of the Safe Street corridors — a vote that could also determine the future of the bike bus program.”

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