Tuesday, February 7, 2012

knowledge AND power

For two (school) years of my life - 5th and 6th grade - I rode a school bus.    My other grades were within walking distance, but middle school was CLEAR across town.  In my hometown, that calculated to about 3 miles.

The bus was big, noisey, strangely always sticky, and smelled of diesel.  Our driver was an ex-policeman who seemed perpetually grumpy, and no one messed with him.  I do remember one time, though, when a kid lit a match on the bus, leading Mr. Busdriver to slam on the brakes and kick the little pyromaniac off.  We were yet quite far away from the pyro's stop.  Bus drivers probably can't do that anymore.

I thought it was fun to ride the school bus during those first few days of 5th grade.  The novelty eventually wore off, though, and I was pretty happy to finish middle school and be educated closer to home again.  Being a school bus passenger was but a small insignificant blip in my formative years, and I hadn't thought about it much since then.

But recently, Ted from Commute By Bike sent me an article with a photo of this impressive school bus in the Netherlands. 

How cool is this?  It's a bicycle built for... twelve!  (doodle comments mine)

The article states that

The bicycle school bus (BCO in Dutch) is powered entirely by children and the one adult driver (although there is an electric motor for tough hills). Its simple design has eight sets of pedals for the kids (ages 4 to 12), a driver seat for the adult, and three bench seats for freeloaders. The top speed is about 10 miles per hour, and features a sound system and canvas awning to ward off rainy days.

I love the term "freeloaders" - see the kindergartners up front and in back, who frighteningly seems to be the only one without a sort of safety guard rail.  And, living in Colorado, I'm curious as to their definition of "tough hills".  

And I'm trying to imagine what it would've been like to ride THIS bus to 5th grade, three miles across town (uphill in the snow, both ways), and test out that top speed.

I think it would have been wicked fun. 


  1. This bus is a piece of work. I too wonder how it would have been to ride in a school bus like this. Knowing how I was back then, I probably would have been scared to death to ride something like this x.x. I was a big frady cat.

  2. Great idea! Since I grew up in a valley with steep hills by anybody's standards, I wouldn't have had to pedal very hard :) I rode the bus for all of my public ed. I sooooo envied the walkers because they didn't have to stand in the 50 below windchill factor for a minimum of half an hour before they could assume the bus was frozen solid and wouldn't be coming that day. Plus, those were the days when little girls wore dresses to school. BRRRRRRRRR

    Love your take on Mondays!

  3. You know all those news stories about 1/3 of Americans being overweight or obese? I'm thinking this is the answer.

  4. I actually love this idea!!!! I'm with Terri, too - talk about getting a nation full of obese children back in shape! Awesome!

  5. My first thought as well was how beneficial something like this would be for our children. 'Course in some necks of the woods it would need to be covered or enclosed, but I would imagine they would create their own heat. Interesting idea!

  6. Those Dutch. They can be such zany innovators. Bicycles are a way of life over there. But if you think this is off the wall, you ought to check out the beer bikes of Amsterdam (

  7. Hm, a tough hill in Holland would hardly register with anyone else!

    School bus drivers have been known to dump troublesome kids (read "teenagers who should know better") half way home. The parents complain like crazy, of course...

  8. Yes, I believe this is the same group that made Beer Bikes.

  9. Abby! Your annotations are hilarious.

    I'm glad that this bus has electric power -- even if it's in flat Netherlands. Imagine how much it would suck to be the first kid on the bus route; just you and the bus driver powering that beast. Or the last kid off -- after you've already been pedaling for a couple of miles, and then having no backup.

  10. Pretty cool. It'll never happen here, though. The insurance companies would have a field day with that contraption.