Light up their lives

An innovative cycle-to-school scheme is seeking a trade sponsor to supply lights for a Bike Train. Once successful, such Bike Trains could spread to localities all over the UK and get more kids cycling. Thats why trade support at this early stage will be philanthropy, good PR and sound business sense all rolled into one.
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MB Cycles of Daventry has supported the Woodford Halse Bike Train with cash and technical support now a supplier is being sought who can see a good PR opportunity when it appears. A batch of LED and filament lights will help keep the Woodford Halse Bike Train on the road this winter.

Bike Train? Wossat? Its a means of getting cars off the road and kids biked to school. Woodford Halse is a village near Daventry, Northants. There a bunch of proactive parents who want to see their kids ride their bicycles safely the mile or so to school have started a bike chaperone service.

Fears over the speed of road traffic has prevented the parents allowing their kids to cycle to school alone so when working mum Debbie Blencowe suggested a Bike Train the idea was seized upon.

The idea was inspired by a walking-to-school scheme featured on the BBC national news. This was a parent-led project where a group of well-drilled young children going from the same locality to the same school were walked by an adult in single file in a train, a kind of safety snake.

Debbie Blencowes two boys enjoyed recreational weekend cycling with their parents and wanted to cycle to school like some of the other, much older children at their school. Debbie realised that the walking bus idea could be adapted for young cyclists and contacted the county council safety officer to see if any objections would be raised to a Bike Train scheme. None were and the headmaster of the local school was also in favour.

Parents were informed of the planned Bike Train. The scheme was professional from day one. To comply with Health and Safety regulations, forms were drawn up for both volunteer parents and children to sign. In theory, this meant that each child promised to be on his or her best behaviour, to cycle sensibly, and to wear a helmet. Those parents who were to accompany the bike train would also wear helmets, for their own safety and to promote their use amongst the older, non-bike train children.

Every Bike Train participant is decked out in flourescent tabards provided by Northamptonshire County Council. IBD MB Cycles of Daventry supported the Bike Train with cash and with a free roadworthiness check for all the bikes to be used in the Bike Train.

The inaugural ride was on October 2nd and after a successful three week pilot scheme the Bike Train won the approval of the safety officer, and the formal go ahead was received

Now well established, the Bike Train consists of 20 children broken up into two trains, which leave approximately 5 minutes apart.

Backpacks, lunch boxes and sometimes small children are carried in the two trailers which now form part of the train.

Debbie Blencowe has been overwhelmed by the instant success of the project:

The local environment has benefited to the tune of eight or so less cars being used for the school run each day, and car parking has eased too. We hope to set up a further bike train starting from a different point once a further risk assessment has been made, and this should further reduce car use, says Debbie.

And there are clear benefits for the children too:

Those children who participate in the scheme are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on arrival at school, having given their system a good wake-up call and plenty of oxygen, as opposed to those children arriving by car half asleep and groggy.

What about the parents, they have to make the journey twice, how are they coping?

Many of the parents were not exactly Mr or Mrs Motivators when they started, having got their bikes out of mothballs in many cases! However, they are now shaping up and feeling the benefit, says Debbie.

Light suppliers can get in touch with Debbie Blencowe on tel: 01327 262990 or email her via

NB This news piece was adapted from an article in the pre-Xmas ON YOUR BIKE and any trade support for the Bike Train will be acknowledged.

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