There’s a link between sufficient physical exertion — so much the better in fresh air — and enhanced academic performance.
Exercise and just being able to move around has been shown to help kids with learning disabilities including ADHD (my resident ADHD “expert,” my husband Jim, assures me that he thinks best and most cohesively when in motion, be it on foot, a-bike, in the car).
I don’t think it would be altogether feasible in the US (I live in New Jersey and the legal liabilities would be huge), but the idea of this teacher-and-student-pedaled bicycle school bus from the Netherlands is too ingenious not to consider.
The bicycle school bus (BCO in Dutch) is built by Tolkamp Metaalspecials. It fits eleven children and one adult and has eight sets of pedals for kids aged 4 to 12, a driver’s seat and three more seats for those who just want to take in the sights. It is also outfitted with a motor for going up hills, a sound system and a canvas awning for rainy days. The BCO can travel at a top speed of 10 miles per house and, at a price of $15,000 each, costs far less than the typical bus (plus, it comes in other colors besides yellow: green, blue, purple, grey, red).
A total of 25 of the bike buses have been made for use in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, and requests for information have come in from other countries in Europe, North American and South America. As YES! Magazine points out, some 95 percent of Dutch teenagers bike to school at least some time; much of the country’s population is devoted to bikes and to creating an urban infrastructure of bike paths and more.
Would the BCO be viable in other countries?, Co.Exist asked Tolkamp, to which he responded:
“I hope I can sell the bike in the near future to a foreign country and see how people at other countries react on the bike. I think it will work well in other countries, because as more and more people [are] becoming fat and “green living” becomes more important, ideas like this get more popular.”
In the car-friendly US, it may not be so easy for the BCO to catch on. Certainly (unlike the children and teacher in this photo), everyone would have to be wearing a bike helmet and I can already see the lawyers lining up to craft regulations. Still, the BCO’s combination of exercise en route to getting your education, not to mention some practice in teamwork — all the riders would have to learn to pedal in unison and to stop — are an inspiring mix. The schoolmates that bike together are learning some valuable lessons, one turn of the pedal at a time, together.
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Photo by SLO County Bicycle Coalition