On Friday 15 March, the very first Wellesbourne Bicycle Bus wheeled in. A Bicycle Bus is when a number of people (in this case families) ride together in a group for a safe, fun environment travelling a predetermined route avoiding the busiest roads and junctions where possible, picking up more riders at certain stops on the route, just like a bus would!

Simon Storey, who set up the popular and successful Bicycle Bus in Leamington and Warwick, was asked by Stratford based BAFTA award winning filmmaker Michael Clifford of Grand Union Productions to help set up a Bicycle Bus initiative in Stratford-on-Avon District. Michael has been commissioned by Stratford-on-Avon District Council to make a series of short films to promote active travel..

Michael and Simon reached out to a number of schools and Sally Porter of Wellesbourne Primary School responded. After the school had sent out information, a number of families expressed an interest in joining. Simon hosted a meeting where he described how a Bicycle Bus works. The interested families then shared their addresses with Simon so he could plot a rough route. Simon said, “We don’t go to everyone’s front door. Instead, I look at the spread of addresses and find a common route that is on quieter roads that everyone can reach”.

Once a route was determined, a date was set to coincide with the Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel campaign. On the very first Wellesbourne Bicycle Bus, 16 people took part. The following week, 17 participated. Two parents who joined the Wellesbourne Bicycle Bus, Oliver Cannon and Tom Witcomb, will take on the running of the initiative. The three have met to agree a plan with Simon ready to support if needed.

Wellesbourne & Walton Parish Council has agreed to financially support the group now that it has been taken over by residents. The PC will fund the cameras, the speaker and the insurance for the group as well as a donation towards high viz jackets.

Councillors met with the Bicycle Bus organisers about how they could help with improving road safety. Potential measures include dropping a few kerbs, clearing and improving footpaths, liaising with WCC and the Active Travel team.  This will be addressed through the next Highways Committee meeting of the PC.

Simon says, “I really think this could be a great thing in Wellesbourne, because of the location of the school and where the majority of families live. Families need to get out of the habit driving everywhere! The average school run is just 1.6 miles long and yet only 3% of children cycle to school. This statistic needs to change and initiatives like this will help.”

This is the seventh initiative that Simon has helped to start up since forming the first Bicycle Bus in 2020. He is the Founding Director of Cycle Infinity CIC, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people learn to ride, improve their skills or build their confidence on a bike amongst other things. He is also one of the lead coaches at Stratford Juniors Cycling Club who train at Tiddington. Simon has recently been announced as Warwick District’s first Bicycle Mayor which is a voluntary and independent role, campaigning for better cycling infrastructure. If you want to join the Wellesbourne Bicycle Bus, or find out more, email simon@thebicyclebus.co.uk

As part of “Chasing The Sun” film screening at the Royal Spa Centre & Town Hall on 21 May, BAFTA award winning director Michael B Clifford made a short active travel film about The Bicycle Bus and the setting up of the Wellesbourne Bicycle Bus. This will be shown as a prelude to the main “Chasing The Sun” film which follows a group of people on an extraordinary journey stopping off to along the way to see initiatives that are changing people’s lives and the environment around us.