A Bicycle Train is a two-wheel alternative to a Walking School Bus(WSB). It provides a faster travel alternative to a walking option, suitable for a longer journey to school. For this reason Bicycle Trains are great for destination schools such as French Immersion or Independent schools.
The bicycle option is particularly viable if off-road cycle routes, multi-use pathways or on road bicycle routes are close to your school. The WSB organizational process can be adapted for a Bicycle Train. For cyclists, planning a best route must be considered very carefully because the group will likely be riding on the road. Refer to
Mapping Bicycle Train Routes.
In addition, considerations for safety are more specific for cyclists because a vehicle – a bicycle – and safety equipment must be used. Concerns related to helmet fit and use, condition of bicycles, bicycle skills experience and traffic safety education must be addressed.
Parents and children must know how to check bicycle mechanics to make sure that their vehicles are safe to ride. Helmets must fit and be worn properly. There should be an appropriate number of children in the group for each adult volunteer; adult supervision for a Bicycle Train is recommended to be one adult for each three to six children. A Bicycle Train is best organized for older elementary students who have had practice and training in bicycle handling, cycle skills and who are familiar with rules of the road.
To prepare students for participation in a Bicycle Train, bicycle safety education should be offered. When the Bicycle Train is in operation, safe cycling skills and road safety must be reviewed regularly. Refer to the
Bicycle Safety Section. Main Organizational Elements:
Bicycle Train and best routes planning for cyclists
As identified above, best route planning is key for the safety of Bicycle Train groups. Because cyclists must ride on the road, bicycles may require a different route to the one used by a walking school bus. For detailed information on this route planning process refer to the
Mapping Bicycle Train Routes information.
Bicycle Train minimum requirements
The guidelines for a
Walking School Bus are a useful framework to follow. Your Bicycle Train will require:
Registration of children with the agreement of their parents.
Letter of agreement for volunteer Cycle School Bus leader(s).
Registration of children with the agreement of their parents.
Traffic safety education that includes bicycle handling, bicycle skills, road safety and visibility awareness. Bicycle Train Best Route to School.
Emergency contact list.
How to organize a Bicycle Train
Organizing a Bicycle Train can be planned at the same time you introduce Walking School Buses (WSB) in your school community:
1. Getting started
Send information home inviting families to phone or email a coordinator if they are interested in setting up or participating in a Bicycle Train. Many school communities have parents and teachers who regularly bike for transportation and recreation. Your school may also have parents or teachers who are bicycle skills educators and have Can Bike II training. These individuals may be valuable resources if you wish to plan bicycle safety education for the Bicycle Train participants or for other students within the school community.
2. Bicycle Train (and WSB) information meeting
You can incorporate this discussion as part of a Walking School Bus information meeting if you have families interested in cycling as an option.
Additional Considerations for a Bicycle Train:
Assess the availability of bike racks and storage at your school. Will this be adequate for the number of bicycles involved in the Bicycle Train program? Will these bicycles be secure? Are they protected from the weather? A bicycle rack may need to be moved to a location in full view of a classroom or office to increase security and/or to be located in a covered area.
Students participants must have a bicycle skill level that is suitable for the route they will ride. If the Bicycle Train will be riding on the road, then these children must have significant competence in cycling to be part of the group.
Discuss the specifics for Best Route Planning for Cyclists during this meeting. Refer to
Mapping Bicycle Train Routes. A Bicycle Train leader must be a confident and competent bicycle rider. They must be experienced in riding on the road, and comfortable providing leadership in teaching and modeling safe cycling behaviour for the students who are part of the Bicycle Train. Remind parents that they are also an important role model for their children, and they should demonstrate safe cycling at all times. This includes wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle.
If affordability is an issue and access to bicycles or helmets is a concern, consider ways to secure equipment for all students. You might plan a school or neighbourhood bicycle swap, and/or request that a local bicycle shop consider providing helmets at cost for students in your school community.
3. Neighbourhood Bicycle Train organization meeting
Follow the same guidelines outlined for a WSB meeting.
Distribute copies of your proposed Bicycle Routes Map.
Make sure all parents and children are familiar with bicycle rules of the road. It should be made clear that a bicycle is not a toy, it is a vehicle.
Plan a hands-on bicycle skills session for all participants. See references in the
Bike Safety Section.
4. Bicycle Train Route ride
Bicycle Train leaders and parents of children who will participate in the Bicycle Train should cycle the proposed route to and from the school. Ideally this ride would take place at the start and end of the school day. Make adjustments and changes to the route if necessary. Change the road route if traffic volumes prove to be too heavy or unpredictable.
5. Celebration launch day!
Invite community leaders or celebrities to ride along with your Bicycle Train. Your invitation might include a local community police bike patrol or a prominent bike athlete. You may also wish to ask local or provincial politicians to cycle along with your group.
6. Maintain your Bicycle Train (and WSB) program
Re-introduce the WSB program each year, or provide for continuity.
Bicycle skills training sessions such as Bike Smarts and other bicycle education programs are fun and valuable for your whole school community. Many children ride their bicycles on vacation and on weekends, and this
bicycle safety education can help to keep them safe. Create a bicycle culture at your school by incorporating bicycle safety education into your annual plans. Promote bicycling for the trip to school, for field trips, and celebrate Bike to School Day!
Other Organizational Details:
Rules and policies to consider when organizing your Bicycle Train
In addition to the considerations mentioned in the Walking School Bus Section, the following additional provisions should be made for a Bicycle Train:
Children must have bicycles suitable for their size, skill level and in good working order.
Every member of a Bicycle Train must wear a bicycle helmet. This is the law in BC. Helmets must be the appropriate size, positioned properly and buckled securely. Review Helmet Facts and References in the
Bicycle Safety Section. When riding with the group, children must cycle single file, in the direction of traffic and follow the Bicycle Train Leader.
On a shared use path, cyclists must always give way to pedestrians.
Bicycle Train participants must bring a secure lock for their bicycle every day they ride.
A Bicycle Train leader and rear guard should wear a reflective safety vest and carry a whistle.
A Bicycle Train leader should carry a bicycle tire pump, a small emergency bike tool kit, and a first aid kit.
Bicycle Train leaders should review the
Bike Sense manual, and consider getting safe cycling training from CanBike or the Hub Cycling’s Cycling Skills programs
Expectations for Bicycle Train participants’ behaviour
Riders must stay with the group and ride single file on streets and paths.
Bicycle Train participants must respond to directions given by the Bicycle Train leader.
There can be no playing around on bicycles, or unnecessary horn and bell use.