Friday’s commute to school is a little different for some kids in Barcelona, ââSpain.
By 8 am, more than a hundred children and parents get on their bikes and hit the road to school and work. Not on the sidewalk or in a cycle path, but in the middle of the street.
Dozens of children ride bikes and scooters – and even skate – through deserted streets, seen in videos and photos posted on social media.
The system was dubbed bicibÃºs, or bicycle-bus, and began in Barcelona’s Eixample district in September.
Families in the region use the growing popularity cycling to build community – and also fighting for a safer and greener way for their children to get to school.
âIt all started with a group of five families, a lot of determination and a deep sense of the common good,â Mireia Boix, a rising mother with her 5-year-old son, told NPR.
Building a healthier city
The bicibÃºs works the same way as a school bus, but with three “stops” along the way where more passengers join several schools in the Eixample.
Parents often join them, some of them carrying young children on their bikes. Police vehicles began to escort the group, with officers traveling to the front, rear and sides of the group, Boix said.
In Eixample, the bicibÃºs goes down rue EntenÃ§a, where there are three schools; the journey from start to finish takes approx. 25 minutes. Boix said it’s a busy road where about 20,000 vehicles cross every day. This makes the surroundings noisy and busy. And for children who go to school, it can be dangerous. Boix said that with the bicibuses, she feels a sense of relief when her son cycles to school on Fridays because she knows he will be safe.
That is why parents in the community are hoping for a school-friendly cycle path separate from main traffic that would allow children to cycle with their families. This type of route already exists in other parts of Barcelona, ââBoix said.
Boix says city council made some changes to make the streets safer, but it hasn’t had much of an impact.
“It would reduce the number of cars and it would make cycling a possibility for families who at the moment are not too safe and do not feel safe with the area,” she said.
âThe bicycle is a means of transportation and if a 5 year old can cycle to school, that means everyone can. If people use their bicycles, there will be a healthier, quieter and overall better city to live in. “said Boix.
Other neighborhoods in Barcelona and other parts of Spain also have similar bicibus traditions.
A sense of camaraderie and camaraderie
Boix said she woke up earlier than usual every Friday out of excitement for the ride. She and her son cycle to school in the morning almost every day. On the day of the bicibus, she said, he “enjoys the ride and the freedom”.
Joy, even just watching videos on social media, is contagious. Passers-by stop and take photos of the group. Some children even wear bicibus jerseys. Some on social media have commented on how the bicibÃºs shows what it means to rethink public space.
Boix said the camaraderie and camaraderie that went with organizing and participating in the rides is getting a little touching as well.
âWe all felt moved on one of the rides at some point. It’s a group of people who believe things can be done a little differently,â she said. “That we are not asking for something strange or impossible.”