A school cycle bus has been set up in Limerick enabling more children to cycle to school with the opening of a new cycle lane over the River Shannon in the city making cycling much safer. 

Around 30 families now make up the Limerick school cycle bus who are now back at school, and getting there by their favourite mode of transport - on bikes.  

They set off each morning from the northside of Limerick to attend schools in the city centre, travelling as a group and marshalled by their parents.

The opening of a new cycle lane across Limerick's Shannon Bridge has been described as a game changer in the whole campaign, making the journey a lot less hazardous.

Conor Buckley, who is Chair of the Limerick Cycling Campaign, said the city of Limerick is perfectly suited to cycling with just a 5km perimeter, it is compact, with mostly flat city terrain, and is easy to get around in a short time.

"It makes perfect sense to get the kids to cycle to school and get families out of their cars, and out of the early morning congestion. For far too long the priority has been the use of cars for transport," he said. 

But he believes a lot more people would cycle if it was safer.

The opening of a new cycle lane across the Shannon Bridge over the summer during the Covid-19 pandemic has made a huge difference to their efforts to get more people on their bikes.

Anne Cronin, a parent who is a member of the Limerick school cycle bus and who accompanies her children to school each morning, said they are delighted the cycle lane is to be retained.

"We need more cycle lanes. For far too long the city bridges have been hostile to cyclists over recent years. 

"We need now to build on the success of the cycle lane and make sure there are more built, which will really make it a connected city for cyclists", she said.

Meanwhile, the cycling advocacy website Cyclist.ie is running a campaign called Get to School on Your Own Fuel 

It is listing contacts for cycling groups around the country who will provide advice on planning a safe route and choosing the right bikes and equipment for your family.

Cycle buses that offer the safety of numbers and some camaraderie for the school run have been running in several cities, including Galway and Dublin, for a few years now.

Groups have also started in Strandhill in Sligo and Cootehall in Leitrim.

Many Local Authorities are promoting active travel through their Covid-9 mobility plans.

The National Transport Authority is providing funding for projects, such as the coastal cycle route from Blackrock to Sandycove in south Dublin.

It is in response to the reduction in capacity on public transport because of Covid-19 restrictions and a recognition that active travel helps to reduce problems, such as air pollution and obesity, both of which put people at higher risk from the virus.

Additional reporting Colman O'Sullivan