George Watson’s College now has three bike buses operating on different days of the week, with plans for more. And the organiser is looking for some more volunteer marshals to help out.

A bike bus is a group of children and young people cycling to school accompanied by adults – usually parents and other volunteers – who stop traffic and mark junctions so that the bike bus can move as a single vehicle.

You will see from the explanation of the routes below that each one takes about 20 minutes to cycle.

Explanation of how a bike bus works

Adults cycle on the outside of the bus to protect the young cyclists and allow them the fun of cycling to school on streets which otherwise might prove too challenging for them. The purpose is to encourage children and young people to use active travel, to reduce emissions and to reduce the number of cars travelling to and from the school. Most if not all of the bike buses in Edinburgh are accompanied by a police officer on a bicycle.

The scheme has been directed by Jarlath Flynn who set the three buses up using a handy guide based upon the experiences of the Sciennes Primary School and James Gillespie’s bike buses which you can read below.

Flynn is a former Under 18 coach with Edinburgh Road Club and a keen cyclist. He explained his interest and why he helped to start up the bike buses. He said: “I approached George Watson’s as the school was on my cycle route to work. I figured I could help with reducing the number of vehicles on the school drop off. The school was very approachable and here we are, only four weeks into our bike bus project and we are almost ready to launch our third and fourth routes. I have been helped greatly by Jill Eccleston and Richard Brown. 

“I believe bike buses can pave the way for reduced pollution and congestion on our streets.  Hopefully, by participating in bike buses,  more and more families will realise that cycling to school is a very pleasant and achievable.  Outside of the school run there is potentially a massive positive knock-on effect with families swapping car journeys for bike rides instead. 

“My aim, with the help of the bike bus community, is to approach all schools in Edinburgh and help them set up their own bike buses.”

George Salmond Head of Junior School at George Watson’s College said: “George Watson’s College has been delighted to get involved with the Bike Bus. We are passionate about supporting our pupils and parents to find environmentally friendly ways to get to School, whilst keeping our children safe. Cycling to School is a great way to keep fit and, in these tough times, save money too.”

Contact Jarlath Flynn here

There are rules for cyclists to observe while taking part:

  • All children must be accompanied by an adult guardian or parent who will be responsible for the child for the duration of the bike bus. 
  • Adults are responsible for their children.
  • All riders must ride legally.
  • All riders must show respect to all other road users, (including other bike bus users).
  • This is not an ‘official’ led ride — all riders have responsibility for themselves.
  • You must not overtake the front ride marshal.
  • If you join on the route, please join when there is suitable gap AFTER the front ride marshal.
  • Please be patient; this is not a race to school and some people may be slower than you. Please also try and stay with the group if possible –if you need to stop and walk, please let a marshal know.
  • Parents must stay within sight of the children they are responsible for.

On Mondays Colinton & Craiglockhart Route: Departs Colinton Surgery ay 8am Click to view route. Estimated time needed is 16-20 minutes)

Depart Colinton Surgery at 8am and proceed along Colinton road until taking a left turn at Elliot place. Then proceed along Craiglockhart Rd and Craiglockhart Rd North. Then cross Colinton Road and proceed along the paths behind Craighlockhart leisure all the way to the school grounds.

On Tuesdays Lanark Road Route : Departs Kingsknowe Park at 8am Click to view route. ( 3.5km – Estimated time needed is 17-20 minutes)

If joining the bike bus from the starting point please arrive in time ready for an 8am departure.
Ride marshals will help all riders cross the Lanark Road.
You are welcome to join the bike bus anywhere along the route. Just filter into the group when it is safe to do so, behind the lead marshals.
The bike bus will proceed slowly down the protected cycle lane towards the Water of Leith Visitor Centre. (There are a number of families join the bike bus here)
The bike bus will proceed along the bus lane and make a right turn across the A70 onto Meggetgate.
The bike bus will proceed along the quite streets of Meggetland and make its way towards the junction of the pedestrianised canal bridge and Colinton Road.
The bike bus will continue straight along Colinton road and go straight ahead at the traffic lights until it takes a right turn onto South Gillsland Road where the bike bus will finish at the school gates.

On Wednesdays Fairmilehead Route – Departs Charwood at 8am Click to view route Estimated time needed is 15-19 minutes)

Depart Charwood carpark at 8am. The bike bus will cross the road when it is safe to do so and proceed down the A702 using the protected bike lane all the way to Greenbank Terrace where it joins the main road. It then turns left to join Cormiston Drive and proceeds along Dalhousie Terrace until it turns right on to Morningside Drive. The Bike Bus takes a left into Morningside Park through to Balcarres Street. Cycle along Balcarres Street until the bike bus meets the queue of vehicle traffic waiting to turn right towards the school at Craighouse Road. The bike bus leader will make a decision based on the volume of traffic whether the bike bus proceeds or everyone dismounts safely and walks the reminder of the journey to the school grounds.

More information about other Edinburgh bike buses to join are here:

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Founding Editor of The Edinburgh Reporter.
Edinburgh-born multimedia journalist and iPhoneographer.