Bike Train at Kirkgunzeon: Transforming the school run

We interrupt our summer programme of rides to look back at an excellent initiative at Kirkgunzeon Primary School that started as a Bike Week event and grew arms and legs (or perhaps, wheels)

Parent (and Cycling Dumfries member) Richard Colbeck has written the following (photos mostly courtesy of Emma Maxwell of Kirkgunzeon Youth Club):

Parents and teachers at Kirkgunzeon School thought that it would be a great idea to do something in recognition of Bike Week.

Some of the older children were already cycling to school unaccompanied but to encourage more to do this, the idea of a Bike Bus was suggested. This is an organised accompanied group to safely deliver the children to school and there were sufficient parents in Beeswing who were willing to set up a rota. The “Bike Train” has been running 5km from Beeswing to Kirkgunzeon and back twice a week up until the end of term. The children have all been really enthusiastic and it is planned to start up again when schools return in mid August.

The ‘bike train’ sets off from Killywhan. Photo Richard Colbeck

As well as encouraging a more environmentally friendly method of travelling to school it is also good for fitness and well being and the children taking part have made noticeable gains in this respect already. 

Kids at the school for the Bike Fun evening

Before the Bike Train’s inauguration, parents ran a Bike Fun evening in the school playground which gave the opportunity for a bike mechanic to check that bikes were  all roadworthy as well as having some bike skill tests and the smoothie bike in operation.  Thanks to the help from Emma & John from the youth club for joining forces with the parent council for this event, and for their input ensuring that it was well attended.

Some former pupils who have now moved on to high school were on hand help run the skill session and also demonstrate their own bike handling skills. The children had an absolute ball and quite a few were asking to do it again the following  week!

The smoothie bike had been in use most of the day during school hours and was worked flat out in the evening  with an enthusiastic group of mothers  keeping the blender supplied with ingredients and eager children providing the pedal power and the thirsty mouths!

Thanks to Sally and Briony for the ideas and Briony for arranging for the use of the iBike smoothie bike.

There was clearly a lot of organisation that went into this initiative – but it does show that even small rural schools can provide alternatives to the car for the school run if there are suitable routes available. If you think your school could benefit from a bike bus (or Bike Train, as Kirkgunzeon school call it) then there is some helpful guidance here from an Edinburgh based group of bus organisers.

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