Cycle Trains

What is a cycle train?

A cycle train is an alternative method for children to travel to and from school. Similar in approach to the ‘walking school bus’, adult volunteer ‘conductors’ cycle along a set route to school, collecting children from one or more designated ‘train stops’ along the way.


Background to cycle trains

Since 2002, cycle trains have been becoming increasingly common internationally: several schools in the UK now have school-based cycle trains, and Hertfordshire Council has published some very basic guidelines for their development. School-based cycle trains are most widespread in Belgium: during the school year 2004-2005 a total of 317 trains (involving 2390 children) were registered, with an average of four trains per school.

Cycle trains and school travel plans

The ability to develop and implement cycle trains is a useful tool within the school travel plan ‘toolkit’. Cycle trains complement walking school buses, because they appeal to a slightly older age group – walking school buses are most popular with younger children (aged 5-8), while cycle trains appear to be more popular with children aged 8-10.

The Nelson trial

This was carried out by Nelson City Council’s safe journey to school coordinator. Using the process we developed, six cycle trains were launched in Nelson, New Zealand in September 2006. A seventh one was launched in late November 2006. Most of these cycle trains proved to be self-sustaining even after the 2-month summer break. In fact, the programme expanded – another school engaged the process and set up a cycle train; and two further cycle trains were established in the trial schools.

How to set up cycle trains: Help for schools and communities

Pinnacle Research & Policy Ltd, in conjunction with the Nelson City Council, developed guidelines for setting up Cycle Trains for use by schools. These guidelines include: cycle safety (helmets, bike control), training for coordinators, road rules, emergency procedures, correct clothing for safe cycling etc.


Research Report 338 Developing School-based Cycle Trains in New Zealand. (pdf)