Warmer temperatures are here, and the Marblehead Bike Bus is back on the road, with a peloton of young students pedaling through town on their way to school.
“It’s fun,” said smiling fourth-grader Sadie Osborne last Friday morning. “I’m always very tired in the morning, and this wakes me up.”
Marblehead dad Peter Fleming started the Marblehead Bike Bus last fall, joining a worldwide movement of neighborhoods and schools organizing groups of students and parents to bike to school in a group.
“Bike buses are kind of magical things. They get more children and parents riding to school instead of driving,” Fleming told the Marblehead Current. “That’s good for everybody involved. It means better mental health, better physical health. And it builds community. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Every Friday at 7:30 a.m., Fleming greets several kids and parents at the old Gerry School, with pop music playing from a speaker and a box of Dunkin’ Munchkins for motivation. They pedal down Elm Street and make their way to the bike path near Gilbert & Cole. There, they pick up more kids and parents and ride the path the rest of the way to the Brown and Tower schools.
Last Friday morning, about 20 kids and a handful of parents joined the Bike Bus. Sadie Codd, 6, loves riding with the group.
“You get in a good workout,” said the kindergartner.
Elliott Parenteau looks forward to the rides. “There are some cool jumps I like to hit,” he said. “There’s a big rock near Tower [School].”
Finishing a chocolate Munchkin, first-grader Griffin Cohn added, “I like to bike with my friends.”
Parents are definitely on board, too.
“West Shore traffic is horrible,” said Coralie Osborne, Sadie’s mom. “We get to school faster this way, and it’s more environmentally friendly. Everyone is happier.”
Griffin’s mom, Lindsay Almeida, added, “It’s a great way for the kids to be independent. It feels super safe.”
Fleming likes that his son, Charlie, 6, and other kids are learning how to ride safely. “Some of the roads around here are less hospitable than others,” he said. “Riding in the numbers we do makes it safer.”
Liz Wells was riding with her three sons, ages 4, 7 and 8. “It’s a great way to start the day,” she said. “As a mother of three active boys, I like that this really gets their wiggles out.”
This school year, the Marblehead Bike Bus ran in the fall and spring, but Fleming says it’s certainly possible to bike to school year-round with the right equipment.
To learn more about the Marblehead Bike Bus, visit loom.ly/-QdDmUY to fill out an interest form.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.