Simon Storey (left) and Richard Coombes, Store Manager at The Co-operative in Lower Heathcote, with cyclists using the Bicycle Bus.

Monday 4th July 2022

The Heart of England Co-operative Society has awarded £200 to organisers of a Bicycle Bus in the Whitnash area of Royal Leamington Spa.

It was one of 10 local causes to receive a share of £2,950 in the latest round of donations from the Society’s Helping Hearts Awards Scheme.

The money will be used towards the purchase of hi-visibility vests to ensure the safety of children and adults riding the Bicycle Bus in the mornings.

Launched in October 2020, the Bicycle Bus leaves from near The Co-operative at Lower Heathcote – the newest store opened by the Society – and currently stops off at Briar Hill Infant School, St Margaret’s C of E Junior School and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School. 

With at least one or more often two adults overseeing in the mornings, the Bus is open to primary aged children accompanied by an adult. Children typically aged nine and over with Bikeability Level 2 can join on their own, giving them a taste of independence and their parents peace of mind. 

Parents are also invited to join.

The Bicycle Bus can attract up to 21 cyclists – adults and children – on any one day.

Organiser Simon Storey volunteers his time usually once every two weeks, typically a Friday, to oversee the Bicycle Bus. 

 He said: “When I was younger I would cycle to school on my own, but over the years there has been a real sea change, with parents driving their children to school due to various safety concerns. 

“My hope eventually is that with projects like the Bicycle Bus, which are popular in places like Scotland, the number of bikes one day will take over the number of cars on the road, like in the Netherlands.”

Simon added: “Since it was launched nearly two years ago the Bicycle Bus has grown in popularity. But there is no limit to how many children we can take as if it continued to grow we could split the bus.

“It allows us all to ride to school together in a safe and controlled manner, with added social, physical and mental health benefits.”

Simon said an added benefit is the Bus allows the children to meet almost half their recommended daily exercise, in accordance with government guidelines.

He said: “The guidance is that children should undertake an hour’s exercise every day. Our bus takes about 25 minutes. 

“We have excellent feedback from the schools who tell us that the children who ride with us arrive at the gates beaming and full of energy and ready to learn.”

Simon thanked the Heart of England Co-operative Society for its donation.

He said: “We ride as a contained group, taking up about the same space as a bus or lorry.

“The hi-vis vests allow us to be more noticeable and they help to identify us as a group. Without them, drivers may be more likely to try to overtake us, which can be dangerous for all involvedbut with the vests they identify us as a group and are more alert to stopping and waiting for us. The vests really are paramount to group safety.”

Other charities to benefit in the latest Helping Hearts round includes Friends of Woodloes who used their £300 towards an Easter egg hunt at Woodloes Primary School, Lapworth Cricket Club which used its £100 towards costs for the 2022 season and Wellesbourne Flood Action Group, whose £500 will be used to help prevent flooding in the area.

  • To join Simon’s Bicycle Bus, or for advice on launching a Bicycle Bus in your own area, drop Simon a line at[email protected]