The bicycle bus, school bus service in tune with the times

It’s been a recurring problem at every start of the school year for a few years: in France, there is a need for new bus drivers. At the start of the school year, there were 7,500 missing, according to the National Federation of Passenger Transport. For the parents of the 12 million students currently enrolled in the country, this shortage has become a very concrete problem, to which it is imperative to find alternatives. In tune with the times, the bicycle bus, a two-wheeled school bus, is gaining new followers in particular.

The principle is nothing new: it is simply a matter of making the journey between home and school by bicycle, with one mount for the parent and one for the child. Talking about a velobus is mainly giving a framework and a name to a practice as old as the bicycle: this time, the guide follows the same route on each outing, every day at the same time, and picks up the others on the way. student cyclists who so wish, to form a small group.

Good for the environment and morale

We carried out an experiment last June, with four cycle bus lines, and we are continuing it at the start of the school year”, explains Vincent Viel, director of the primary school La Hodeyère, in Vitré. In this city of Ille-et-Vilaine, the school bus does not serve all housing estates. Initiated by parents, this co-cycling has established itself as one of the temporary solutions for transporting students. Set up every Wednesday, it thus benefits around twenty children, out of the 260 in the school.

“There is also an environmental issue, we are all aware of that. If there are fewer cars in the school parking lot, the children will be able to make it their ownenthuses Freddy Andrieux, who launched this project for his daughter’s school. The last three middle section students that I brought, they had the banana, they were proud of them. It is an undeniable motivational tool. My daughter is the first to balk in the morning and she was ready very early for her breakfast. »

A slow development

Initiatives such as these are slowly flourishing all over France: in recent months, associations or parents of pupils have given rise to them in towns such as Mâcon (Saône-et-Loire) or Marolles-en-Brie (Val -de-Marne). Accessible online, a guide published by the FCPE (Fédération des Conseils de Parents d’Élèves) gives the procedure and advice to follow for those who want to create their own bicycle or pedibus, the pedestrian equivalent: avoid the main roads, have two adults for eight children, establish a referent parent…

From the moment a request comes from families, the main obstacle lies above all in the legal framework: each accompanying person must have civil liability insurance, as well as school insurance for each child. The easiest way is to get closer to your town hall, to facilitate its implementation. “In Vitré, we asked them for vests, we would like them to help us put up signs at the meeting pointlist Freddy Andrieux. This would help structure things. » And to make the velobus a permanent device.

The bicycle bus, school bus service in tune with the times