Back in September 2020 Strandhill children arrived at Scoil Asicus with great hilarity, excitement, tinkling of bells and much enthusiasm for their first day back to school. It was also the first official run of the Strandhill CycleBus which greatly added to the excitement.
A cycle bus is when a group of parents and children cycle to school together, the children on the inside, parents on the outside protecting them from vehicles on the road. It is a community-based initiative with local volunteers, parents and teachers coming together to organise a set route, set times and a list of “marshalls” to escort a group of children safely to school.
Voluntary “marshalls” from the community cycle alongside the children and a couple of experienced cyclists help at junctions and roundabouts.
The enthusiasm from the children is heart-warming, many love to be in a big group chatting away amongst themselves as they take part in this fun, healthy and energetic way to start their day. Before long more children joined the cycle bus, with over twenty children cycling regularly to school.
Already some of the older children, having improved their cycling skills, their safety awareness and confidence on the road, are now cycling independently to school.
The Get to School on your Own Fuel national campaign was the catalyst that set in train the beginnings of the Strandhill CycleBus. Interested parents along with members of the Sligo Cycling Campaign came together to select a cycle route and to locate pick-up points where children could join the cycle bus.
A number of practice runs were organised before the school opened. Sligo Cycling Campaign helped with risk assessing the route and with some cycle training advice on marshaling duties. Once the school opened the cycle bus took off and went from strength to strength with both children and parents delighted with their new active travel mode of transport.
Strandhill CycleBus is the first cycle bus in Sligo and joins others from Counties Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Galway. Galway Cycle Bus provides valuable information on how to get your cycle bus started.
Finding like-minded parents and just chatting informally about cycling to school, is a great start!