A Portland P.E. teacher has started a weekly “bike bus,” where he leads hundreds of kids on a ride to school
School drop-offs are a pretty hectic scene. All those cars and buses competing for space—because who is lucky enough to live within walking distance of their kids’ school in the year 2023? That’s why a Portland P.E. teacher is going viral for his genius idea to start a “bike bus.” Once a week, Coach Balto leads a massive group of kids on a ride, and we’re pretty sure every city in the U.S. needs to figure out how to help make this happen on a local level.
In just five months, the bike bus more than doubled in size to 170 students—more than 30% of the entire school population, Coach Balto told reporters. The bike bus allows kids to skip traveling to school by car and instead hop on their bikes and use a designated cycling route. The idea started as an Earth Day initiative (after Balto was inspired by similar rides abroad), but it was so popular that Coach Balto now leads the bike bus every Wednesday with support from parents and the local community.
What’s even cooler is that teachers report that the bike bus has some real benefits for kids in the classroom.
“Our principal has definitely mentioned that parents and teachers noticed that on bike bus mornings, the kids get into the building so much quicker because they’ve kind of had that time to socialize, to get their wiggles out,” Balto said. “And by the time they get to school, they’re ready for the day.”
This makes sense since research is pretty clear about the links between physical activity and better academic outcomes for kids.
Balto encourages others to follow his lead, because starting a bike bus is as easy as hopping on your bike and spreading the word.
“This is something that can be done in high school and as adults,” he said. “And it’s just a great way to build connection with the people in your community. And it’s a great way to get physical activity.”
He added, “The bike bus is climate action. We are removing fossil fuel trips every single day that we participate in a bike bus. Those are less cars that are on the road. And so we can do that and have a really fun time.”