“You have to get out and just do it” – that’s the response from Kitchener-based parents Jorg and Katha Broschek when asked about how their family got into active school travel. Their ‘cycling school bus’ became popular on social media after they caught the eye of videographer Josh Orita. A video, filmed by Orita, of their journey to school has garnered over 5,000 views on Twitter.
A cycling school bus is similar to a walking school bus except that the students commute together on bikes instead of on foot. “We used to walk our kids to school. When we moved to a new neighbourhood, which is farther away from the school, we considered cycling and approached CycleWR, a group advocating for cycling in Waterloo Region. They helped us identify routes to Suddaby Public School where our kids study,” says Broschek.
The family was joined by neighbours when they started cycling to school in spring 2019. Now, their cycling school bus has five kids, aged seven to 10, accompanied by three adults. They switch to walking during the winter months and the parents proudly say they’ve only had to rely on a car for the school commute a handful of times.
Cycling to school has visible benefits for the kids, according to the couple. “The kids are more relaxed at the end of the day and they have a sense of pride in being able to commute on bikes over traveling in a car. We also hope to slowly have them take the responsibility to bike to school by themselves which will help them gain independence,” adds Broschek.
The parents say safer infrastructure around schools and traffic calming, along with creating a sense of equity and a cultural shift in how active transportation is perceived, are key to getting more parents and kids involved in active journeys to school.