A cycle train is similar in approach to the ‘walking school bus’ – adult volunteer ‘conductors’ cycle along a set route to school, collecting children from designated ‘train stops’ along the way. They are well established in Belgium and are beginning to appear in the United Kingdom. Previous research in New Zealand found a high level of interest in the cycle train concept, leading us to design and conduct a trial for implementing cycle train networks here.
Using the process and resource materials we developed after extensive consultation with key government stakeholders, six cycle trains were launched in Nelson in September 2006. Most of these cycle trains proved to be self-sustaining, even after the two-month summer break. In fact, the programme expanded – in early 2007, another school engaged the process and set up a cycle train, and two further cycle trains were established in the trial schools.
Our evaluation examined the characteristics of each cycle train in the trial, as well as focusing on how well the process for setting up and operating them worked. We interviewed the cycle train coordinator, cycle trainer, parent conductors and child cyclists, who all found the trial to be a success. Based on all of this input, we revised the resource material we developed for the trial so that it could be adopted and used throughout New Zealand.