School cycle bus initiative launched in Kenilworth
A group of parents at St Augustine’s School in Kenilworth have launched Warwickshire's first school cycle bus to help local children cycle safely to school.
Twenty children and their parents joined the inaugural ride on Friday 11th October 2019, joined by Kenilworth Town Councillors Andrew Milton, Rob Barry and John Dearing, who showed their support for the initiative.
A cycle bus is when lead cyclists pick up children along the way and the group of cycles to school together. The concept has already been successfully adopted in West London, Oxford, Glasgow and Galway in Ireland.
St Augustine's School parents, Adam and Aurélie Tranter, came up with the idea for the school cycle bus initiative. The couple also run Fusion Media, a cycling-focused communications agency, working with brands such as Brompton Bicycle, Evans Cycles and the Tour de France.
The Kenilworth-based parents started by cycling their 5-year-old twin boys to school using an electric cargo bike. Soon other parents asked them how they could get involved in cycling to school.
Adam and Aurélie Tranter, ride leaders of the St Augustine’s School Cycle Bus, said the initiative highlights the need for better infrastructure in Kenilworth.
Adam Tranter said: “Kenilworth is a town that, on the face of it, supports cycling. We have the men’s Tour of Britain and Women’s Tour visiting us and the size of the town makes it perfect for short cycling journeys.
Of all the car journeys in the UK 68 per cent are under 5 miles and staggeringly 24 per cent of car trips were under 1 mile (DfT 2017 National Travel Survey). These journeys are easily cyclable with better and more attractive infrastructure.”
He added: “Planning the route has been very difficult and has taken a lot of time and consideration. Kenilworth’s cycle network is patchy, at best, and many needless barriers stop people considering cycling for their everyday journeys. Take the ‘No Cycling’ bye-laws in Abbey Fields, we can see from the Greenway and other areas that shared usage between pedestrians and cyclists is totally possible with a bit of will from all sides.”
Cllr Andrew Milton of Kenilworth St John's ward said: “Initiatives like the St Augustine’s School Cycle Bus are crucial to getting Kenilworth cycling, especially getting our young people into the routine safely. We’re so grateful to Adam and Aurélie for making this happen. It’s a great example of what community action can achieve.”
Of the children at St. Augustine’s School 81 per cent are driven to school according to the last School Travel Census.
Nationally, just 2 per cent of children cycle to school, many citing a lack of safe cycling infrastructure and a high volume of traffic as reasons for not taking to two wheels.
Beehive Hill, the road outside St Augustine’s School, is set to receive a makeover from Warwick County Council to address school safety concerns, including a 20mph speed limit during school hours and traffic calming measures.
The Tranters have recently completed Ride Leader Level 1 training, made possible by British Cycling and HSBC UK. The school cycle bus initiative has also caught the attention of six-time Olympic Champion, Sir Chris Hoy. Many of the group ride the HOY brand of children’s bikes on the cycle bus and the Olympic cyclist is passionate about getting more children cycling to school.
Sir Chris Hoy said: “Cycling to school is an amazing way for children to keep fit and be focused in the classroom. There’s no better way to travel to school and it’s great to see children from St Augustine’s School in Kenilworth showing others what is possible. I remember cycling to school as a lad and without my childhood love of cycling, I’d not have achieved the success I did on the track. It’s essential that we give our children the opportunity to cycle or walk to school and not lose sight of the benefits it brings everybody.”
The St Augustine’s School Cycle Bus will continue to run after a successful pilot and it’s hoped other parents at schools in Warwickshire will take up the concept.