Barcelona’s bike bus, popularly known as “bicibus”, is allowing the local children to cycle safely to school in a convoy, taking over entire streets in Spain’s second-largest city.
Barcelona City Council is the principal backer of this citizen-led project. After its beginning in 2021 March with a pilot route in the Sarria neighborhood, the initiative now covers 15 routes. It has also inspired similar schemes in cities such as Glasgow and Portland in the United States.
When Reuters covered the story, it interacted with an eight-year-old named Lena Xirinacs, who often uses one such ‘bibicus’ route named Eixemple. Her father Pablo is also one of the volunteers ensuring the safety of the children, who use these cycling routes to access their schools.
“She wakes up with joy. I could use it as an excuse every day so that she jumps out of bed,” Pablo told Reuters.
The Eixample route starts at 8.30 am and covers 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles) in 25 minutes, dropping children at three schools along the way from Monday to Friday. And yes, all these 15 routes don’t operate on a daily basis.
Apart from the volunteering parents, city police also use their car escorts to provide security to the commuting children.
As per data, over 700 people joined the different routes during the 2020-21 school year, which translates into about 15,000 commutes to different Barcelona schools at that particular timeframe.
The project also aims to encourage more long-term sustainable transportation habits among users, said Jordi Honey-Roses, an urban planner and senior researcher at the Institute for Environmental Science and Technology at Barcelona’s Autonomous University.
“We anticipate that children who participate in ‘bicibus’ will be more likely to ride a bike, have better cycling habits, more sustainable transportation habits, and we think they will change the travel patterns of their family as well,” Honey-Roses said.
Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/calvox_periche