Bike Bus

How to start a Bike Bus

Thank you for your interest in starting a bike bus in your school community! Riding in a group with friends and family is always a joyful experience! The bike bus creates an environment in which children, care givers and school staff can feel confident that their child will actively commute to and from school safely.

General Bike Bus Information:

What is a bike bus?
A Bike Bus takes a group of children to school in the same way a regular school bus does, except everyone is on bikes. The “bus driver”—an adult on a bike—guides a slowly moving group ride along a predefined route. Kids and their parent/guardian join the group on their own bikes when the pack rolls by. Due to safety issues, it is important to note that students can only participate if they are with a parent or guardian.

Why do a bike bus?

Bike buses are a way for everyone to bike together for fun, convenience, and safety. It helps a community build active transportation options, and it’s good for student health and independence. Click here to read more about the many benefits of a bike bus.

Volunteer positions to keep kids safe

There are two main volunteer positions to help make a Bike Bus possible. You need multiple “corkers”, one “sweep” and a Bus driver.

Corkers: These volunteers (or Ride Marshalls) “cork” or block intersections as our bike bus goes past. These volunteers should wear a high-visibility vest for the ride. These volunteers must be able to do short cycling sprints to catch up to the front of the group after the bike bus has passed and the road is cleared. Informal training and more detailed instructions will be provided. The amount of corkers you need depends on the size of your group, the numbers of lanes you’re crossing at once time, and the distance between road crossings.

Sweep: This volunteer (or Ride Marshall) is at the back of the bus and ensures no one is left behind. This volunteer will be provided with a high visibility vest for the ride.

Bus Driver : This person directs the corkers where they are needed and is at the front of the bike bus. This person knows the route and the approximate time of arrival for each pre-determined spot. The Leader sets the pace (usually about 9km an hour) and usually is playing loud, upbeat music to increase awareness on the road. This role is usually taken by an adult with previous group riding experience and can be either a teacher or a parent volunteer.

Bike Bus Expectations & Safety

  • All students must wear helmets, and adults are strongly encouraged to wear helmets
  • One adult must be present with their child(ren) to participate
  • The Bike Bus will take up most of a driving lane and participants must stay together in a group (not a single file)
  • We will have volunteers, wearing safety vests who will “cork” the roads and block traffic at intersections
  • We will have a “sweeper” at the back of the bike bus, ensuring no one is left behind
  • The bike bus will go, rain or shine, but in case of extreme weather, the school will send an email notifying the cancellation of the bike bus, or you can look for updates on LINK TO INSTAGRAM/TWITTER/ETC. *You may choose to cancel your bike bus when there is a risk of rain.

How to start a Bike Bus (for school staff)

  1. Learn about a bike bus and have a good understanding of the safety protocols and expectations. Consider making a risk assessment (Click here for a template)
  2. Talk to your administrator and get permission.
  3. Create a committee to help you organize if possible. This can include parents, PAC and colleagues. Contact other schools in your school division that already run Bike buses.
  4. Check in with other neighbouring schools who might want to partner with you on this journey. Maybe the bike bus can bring students to two different schools which are located close together
  5. Send out information to families and gauge initial interest. Collect addresses to create a route. You may also want to include a spot for families to express interest in volunteering.
  6. Create a proposed route. Ride the route at the time of day you will have the bike bus (both before school and after school) and look for safety concerns, how many roads you’ll need to cork, etc. Adjust as needed and finalize your route, bus stops, and timing. You will need to ride as fast as your slowest rider. Plan for 9-10km/hour. Plan to be at a “bus stop” for approximately 3 minutes to allow some buffer room if you are behind schedule, or if riders need to catch their breath and take a break. 
  7. Learn the safety roles, recruit volunteers and supplies. If possible, attend Ride Marshal Training from Bike Winnipeg.
    1. Ask your local MLA to volunteer
    2. Seek out other school staff to volunteer
    3. Ask your Phys. Ed department for pinnies if desired
    4. Contact your WPS School education officer
  8. Send your final information out to families. And prepare for your first bike bus!
  9. Bike to school and have fun!

During a Bike Bus:

  1. Start at your first spot. Make sure you have volunteers at the starting point to cork and sweep.
  2. Give everyone your safety spiel and look for safety issues on people and bikes (loose pant legs that can get caught in chains, helmets that are too loose, etc).
  3. During the ride, have your “bus driver” direct ride marshals/corkers on which intersections to cork. Make sure your volunteers have safety vests. Smile and wave at cars and thank them for their patience!

Sample safety spiel:

  • Stop for emergency vehicles
  • Stay 1.5 meters away from parked cars (to avoid being hit by doors opening)
  • Ride in a group and take up the entire lane and stay together as a group. Do not allow for large gaps between riders.

General tips:

  • Check the weather. If there is 70% chance of showers, you can plan to cancel.
  • Having music can make the bike bus feel like a party! Grab a portable speaker and make a kid-friendly playlist.