Gwaelod y Garth Bike Bus

School Bike Bus scheme appeals for more parent volunteers

New routes are being added to cope with demand for this fun way to start the day

A CANTON Bike Bus has become so popular that organisers are appealing for more parents to volunteer as marshals.

Radnor Primary School Bike Bus was set up in 2022 to provide to provide a safe way for children to cycle to school, get some exercise and see their friends.

WATCH: What is a Bike Bus?

Since then, a new route has been add for people in a different part of the catchment area. On one journey 70 children took part, about a third of the school.

Now, FRideDays Bike Bus Project co-ordinator Hamish Belding, from national walking and cycling charity, Sustrans, wants more parents to cycle along or act as marshals along the route.

“Parent-led Bike Buses are more sustainable because parents are the ones who make the journey every day,” he said.

Today’s Bike Bus meeting in Victoria Park, Canton. Credit: Billy Stewart

Cerys Furlong, a parent volunteer for Radnor Bike Bus, said: “Some people aren’t confident to take their children on the road, so going together, going slowly, and making our presence felt in a respectful way is really good.”

Radnor is now one of six schools in Cardiff that host a regular FRideDays Bike Bus, as do many others across Wales. This map shows all of the schools in Cardiff that host a regular Bike Bus:

Growing demand in Radnor meant the school set up a new line, from St Johns Church, to allow pupils from that part of the catchment area to take part. It is already planning a third route to accommodate others.

Kane Morgan, a teacher at Radnor Primary, said: “We had kids cycling past school from the other side of the catchment area to get involved in the Bike Bus.”

“We have a vision of a tube map with the school in the middle where people from all over the catchment will join,” said Ms Furlong

One parent brought their child to the park every day to learn how to ride a bike, and the first time they rode on the road was with the Bike Bus. 

The map below shows both the Victoria Line and St Johns Line of the Radnor Bike Bus.

Pieter Naaijkens, whose child attends Radnor Primary, said: “My daughter loves coming to the Bike Bus – she has a lot of fun. It’s healthy as well and it’s good for her to get exercise.”

“In the morning it’s great for them to get to school by bike instead of by car. They can chat to their friends, and it’s a great way for them to get around town,” he said.

Radnor Primary Bike Bus in action on February 23. Credit: Billy Stewart

The Bike Bus also helps reduce traffic congestion, which has been an ongoing problem in Canton.

Canton Councillor Stephen Cunnah also works for Sustrans and is a strong advocate for cycling. He volunteers at Treganna Primary’s Bike Bus.

“In city areas like Canton you often have a lot of problems with congestion,” he said. “It causes environmental damage, it’s bad for the economy and most importantly, it can cause safety issues around the school gates.”

Ms Furlong told me: “We had lots of problems with traffic. Too many people were dropping their kids off in cars and there was too much congestion around the school gates.”

“Bike Bus came about as an idea to encourage people to walk or cycle to school and to be a bit more respectful of the people who live in the area,” she said.

“It creates a very pleasant, happy atmosphere,” said Mr Belding. “Before the Bike Bus the environment outside the school was completely different. It was full of cars trying to turn around and park – it was chaotic.”

Now, the road outside the school is virtually traffic-free and it’s become a buzzing, social area where children, parents, and teachers all mix. Alice Taylor, a parent volunteer, said: “Even the children who don’t join in gather at the school gates and give them a big round of applause – it gives them a real buzz.”

Hamish Belding (left) leading today’s Radnor Primary Bike Bus. (CC: Billy Stewart)

Alice Taylor said: “Sustrans and the teachers started it, but I think to make it more sustainable we need parents to get behind it and take responsibility.”

“As a parent, it’s a great way to meet other parents who support sustainable travel. It’s quite social for the volunteers and the children,” she said.

Mr Belding hopes that one day there will be no need for Bike Buses because so many children will be cycling to school that it happens “organically”.

“We want to show what is possible and to highlight that there are still a lot of barriers that prevent people from cycling to school. We want to use the Bike Bus to convey demand.”

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While there is still a long way to go, schemes such as the Bike Bus are encouraging children to cycle to school.

As these graphs show, 71% of children prefer to take active forms of transport to get to school. Just 15.7% prefer to be driven. Despite this many more are still driven (30.4%) instead of cycling (3.9%).

This is, however, an improvement on 2021 when 43% were driven and just 2.5% cycled to school in 2021.

Sustrans is hosting a Big Walk and Wheel event on March 11-22 to celebrate the UK’s biggest inter-school walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling to school competition. You can find out more here.

  • Find out more about the Bike Bus scheme, including a free-to-download toolkit on how to set up your own here.