The Pt Chev School Bike Train was set up to give kids a great start to the day and reduce traffic around the neighbourhood. We're also finding it gives the kids a sense of independence, teaches them how to ride safely, and frees up time for parents in the mornings.
A great community has also developed around the families who use the Bike Train - kids bike gear is swapped, last-minute school pickups can be arranged using the WhatsApp group, and we have family rides to the Bowler once a term for dinner and drinks.
The Bike Train runs every morning, rain or shine. We're not doing afternoons...yet.
All updates about the Bike Train are sent out via the WhatsApp group, which you can join using this link. The group is open to the public, so don't share personal/confidential information.
Safety is our top priority, and everyone has a part to play. We've designed the safest route possible, and placed notices in every letterbox on the route.
Driveways are our biggest risk. We pass 80 each morning, and reversing drivers cannot see our kids. Follow these steps, in order:
Go slow. The parent at the front of the train must cycle slow enough to allow them to stop mid-driveway if needed.
Yell stop. The parent at the front of the train must check every driveway as they ride past. If they see a car with a driver in it (whether moving or not) they must yell 'Stop', stop in the driveway, and catch the driver's attention.
Kids yell stop. The kids who attended the driveway safety training have been drilled to then stop immediately, and also yell 'Stop' so the riders behind them hear.
Check rear driveways. The parent at the back of the train must then check any other driveways the train may be stopped in front of.
Move on (or not). Depending on where the train has stopped, the parent at the front of the train may signal the driver to leave the driveway - or start the train again.
It doesn't hurt to take the kids (and ourselves) through dummy runs of this now and then, especially if there is a new child on the train (explain things to them beforehand).
Block. After checking an intersection is clear, the parent at the front of the train must stand in the middle of the intersection to block traffic while the kids cross the road.
Wait. Make sure the kids wait until you say it's safe to cross. Especially at the corner of Wakatipu and Pt Chev roads.
Walk. All kids and train drivers must walk their bikes across all intersections.
Tell the child at the front of the train where you want them to stop after they've crossed the road - otherwise they have a tendency to stop as soon as they reach the kerb and the rest of the train is left stranded mid-intersection. e.g., in the intersection shown in the photo above we get the front child to wait by the beige telco box.
How we ride
Keep a line. Encourage the kids to ride in a line behind one another. This reduces racing/competing, and helps share the footpath with other users.
Keep distance. The kids need to keep enough of a distance from the rider in-front to allow them to stop without colliding.
Ring bells. Especially around cafes, shops, corners - and when you're approaching a pedestrian...let people know you're coming.
For kids. All kids must ride with a high-vis vest (loads of colours for $6 here), high-vis bag cover, and front and rear lights. Gloves are a good idea in winter.
For parents. All parents must ride with a high-vis vest. These improve visibility while blocking intersections and so help keep both you and the kids safe. Matt has a stock of these from Auckland Transport if needed.
Bike Train app
We've created a simple app for the Bike Train, which is used to:
Manage family info. Keep your contacts details up to date, and information about which days your kids will use the train.
Record rides. Kids rides are logged in the app, and we'll be adding in rewards later in the year based on numbers of rides.
Share safety messages to keep Bike Train parents up-to-date with procedures.
Manage the roster of parents leading the train.
You'll be sent a login to the app when you've signed your kids up for the Bike Train.
The roster lists which parents are taking the Bike Train each morning. It's filled out each term, but anyone can make changes to it when needed using the app above.
If you can't drive the train on a day you're rostered, message the group via WhatsApp to find a replacement then update the roster.
Any problems updating the roster, let Matt know via WhatsApp.
Route and stops
The map below shows the route and stop times. Times are approximate, but the train never leaves the stops earlier than shown.
8am Corner Moa Road, Tui Street.
8:05am Corner Kiwi Road, Tui Street.
8:10am Corner Huia Road, Tui Street.
8:12am Corner Huia Road, Wakatipu Street.
8:15am Next to crossing at 186 Point Chevalier Road.
8:17am End of Target Street.
If your child can't make their usual day, you don't need to let the group know - the Cycle Train will just continue without you.
If you're running a couple of minutes late, let the group know via WhatsApp and if the drivers get the message they'll wait.
Drivers - make sure you don't leave a stop before the times above, and keep WhatsApp notifications on...