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'Bike bus' movement has kids riding to school across the U.S.; here's how to get started in your community

Posted at 8:17 AM, Nov 27, 2023

In an effort to get kids to school in a safe and healthy way, more people across the country are hopping on the bike bus trend.

A bike bus is simply a group of students and parent volunteers who ride to school together. Allen Cowgill helped start one in Denver.

"50 years ago, about half of kids walked or biked to school," Cowgill said. "I biked to school and walked to school growing up. Today, it's more like 13% nationally. So the whole idea behind the bike bus, behind walking school buses, is safety in numbers."

Since the group is fairly new, Cowgill says the Denver bike bus happens twice a month. One in New York that started in 2022 happens every Wednesday. Emily Stutts is one of the coordinators.

"There is a route in Brooklyn, New York called Bergen Street where there are many, many schools within a very close distance of this route," Stutts said. "And kids and families are using this route every day to get to school by various methods: city bus, school bus, bicycling, personal automobiles, and so for the many families who are biking, it's a huge risk because there's just such a lack of protection along this street."

Both Cowgill and Stutts say the bike bus has helped to build community which is a nice change after the pandemic.

The idea was born in Barcelona back in 2021. Now, it's a movement that's growing all over the U.S.

"All the statistics show that kids that get exercise before school perform better in the classroom," Cowgill said. "They behave better, they do better academically."

If you want to start a bike bus, Cowgill recommends you follow these steps:

1) Start small, even if you have three or four kids biking to school together
2) Find other parents who are interested
3) Get the support of the principal or parent teachers association
4) Pick a safe route
5) Have consistency whether it's every day, once a week, or once a month
6) Make it fun

If you're looking for more of a guide on how to get started, the Bergen Bike Bus coordinators have resources listed on their website.