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.
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.