Families in Riverside are hopping on board the “Bike Bus” to transport themselves to Riverside School using human fuel.
The phrase Bike Bus was coined because like a bus, the riders make several stops along their route to collect more riders.
The concept got its start with The Barcelona Bike Bus.
“We have also seen that model work really well in Cambridge, MA and Portland, Oregon,” said well known bike enthusiast Bob DeAngelo, who worked with Stephanie Martin to organize the effort in Riverside.
“Our vision with the Bike Bus is to build a cadre of young, safe bikers who love to pedal to school and other places,” said DeAngelo.
In Riverside the bike bus route starts on Willowmere and collects riders along the way to Riverside School.
Ms Martin, whose children Maddie and Xavier both ride their bikes to school every day, said families have been enthusiastic about the group bike ride ever Tuesday.
“Even better, riding in a pack to school is much safer than the kids going individually because we can briefly stop traffic while we cross intersections,” she explained. “We are all getting great exercise, getting time outside, and parents don’t have to drive their kids to school that day – which means less traffic and less air pollution!”
The one-mile route organized by Martin and DeAngelo is ideal because the roads are wide and there aren’t many cars parked on the street.
And the kids love it!
Xavier Kelly, a fourth grader at Riverside School, shared his ingenious third grade science fair project titled, “Why to Bike to School.”
The project, which involved extensive calculations on Xavier’s part, had some astonishing results: Based on biking to school 173 days, for a total of 318 miles, Xavier saved his mother 74 hours in her car, avoided 590 lbs of CO2 emissions, saved $95.31 in gas and chalked up 45 hours of exercise.
Also, he determined that if everyone in the community walked or biked to school it would save 293,500 lbs in CO2 emissions, $47,300 gallons of gas and a total of 22,500 hours of exercise.
“Let’s Do It,” Xavier said.
DeAngelo, who grew up riding his bike just about everywhere in Greenwich, said bicycles represent a taste of freedom for young people.
“Our vision with the Bike Task Force is to use the new design and construction of both the Cohen Eastern Civic Center and new Central Middle School to plan for safe, shared roadways for all users to get to and from those town gems,” he said. “With the new design of the Central Middle School we want to think progressively and creatively, and envision a young girl or boy living in, say, the Cos Cob area, to be able to bike to school starting at Cos Cob School, and moving on to Central Middle School and then to Greenwich High School.”
DeAngelo said the town must anticipate what people are calling ‘Carmageddon,’ when East Putnam Avenue at Hillside Rd is narrowed to a single lane in each direction during CT Dept of Transportation’s extensive bridge repair project, tentatively scheduled to start in 2023.
He and members of Pedal Greenwich and the Bicycle Task Force are urging the town to create a pathway for pedestrians and bikes from Valleywood to Overlook Drive.
DeAngelo said the term “micromobility” is already a driving factor in the US for shared roadways for safety and connectivity.
“Our town migration toward a Complete Streets policy or ordinance will ensure that we plan for micromobility for all users for many reasons,” he added.
DeAngelo said the Town of Greenwich already took a forward step this past year with the hiring of Michael Kiselak as Traffic Engineer.
“An avid cyclist himself, he is a great building block toward the vision of Complete Streets for all,” DeAngelo said of Mr. Kiselak.
Now that a Bike Bus is thriving in Riverside and there is an existing email chain, Ms Martin and Mr. DeAngelo said it would straightforward to plan group rides.
They might, for example, meet at Riverside School and bike to Tod’s Point. And when the weather gets cold, there may be some hot chocolate involved!
DeAngelo said he looked forward to holding a Bike Safety Clinic at Riverside School on Monday for 5th graders, and that families in other neighborhoods interested in forming their own Bike Buses should reach out him at [email protected] or Stephanie Martin at [email protected]