Strength in Numbers: The Central Florida Bike Bus

Orlando, Florida
Source: Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)


Commuting to work by bike as a single rider is often a less attractive alternative than commuting in groups, due to a lack of understanding regarding the legitimacy of cycling on major high traffic roads, the mindset of motorists that only cars belong on roads and cyclists should stay out of the way, and the lack of civility among modes on major roads in the United States.


Many major roads in municipalities across the United States do not have dedicated bicycle infrastructure, making cycling intimidating for novice riders. This lack of infrastructure can dissuade cyclists from commuting to work, if such an option exists. It also hinders individual riders who don't feel comfortable using major roads.

One way to surmount the problem of riding on major roads is to ride in groups. Riding in a group increases the visibility of bicyclists, which increases safety; it increases the comfort level of all riders in the group and in particular for novice riders; and it legitimizes the presence of cyclists on roads. Group rides, however, are often difficult to organize and, while helpful for novice riders, are often not feasible on a daily basis.


Image Source: Jason Buckner

Following their car breaking down, a couple in Orlando, Florida decided to start the Central Florida Bike Bus. A Bike Bus is comprised of a group of riders all heading in the same direction and, like a public transit bus, runs on a fixed schedule and along a certain route. This type of system allows riders to "get on" or join the bus at their discretion along the way and also to "get off" whenever convenient.

The Bike Bus was based on an idea from local high school students, who had started a similar project in 2009 (4 on a Quarter 2009). It began as a way to build community around the university, educate motorists on cycling equality, and increase the visibility of cyclists on the roads while still maintaining a positive relationship with motorists, according to program contacts. Florida Bicycle Laws indicate that the bicycle is classified as a vehicle in the same sense as a motor vehicle, must follow all rules of the road, and must ride close to the right side of the road, unless the bicyclist is passing another vehicle, passing a fixed object, preparing for a left turn, or when a lane is too narrow to accommodate both the bicyclist and motor vehicle safely (Florida Department of Transportation 2010). By stipulating that all Bike Bus members follow these laws on major roads, the Bike Bus serves as an example of how bicycles and motor vehicles can use the same facility without conflict.

Image Source: Jason Buckner

The Bike Bus is organized with one experienced rider leading the group and the other bringing up the rear, the leader serving as an example of riding etiquette, while the other ensures that no one gets left behind. As stated before, all members of the Bike Bus are expected to obey the rules of the road and are strongly encouraged to wear helmets and safety vests. As the Bike Bus is an inclusive program and essentially a community ride, the bus only travels as fast as the slowest rider. The organizers ask that new people wanting to join the Bike Bus leave a message on the ride board section of the Website so they know where to expect the new rider on the road.

The Bike Bus began with just two riders and has since expanded to five regular riders with other occasional riders as well. In terms of the route, the Bike Bus currently runs from near downtown Orlando to the University of Central Florida at 7:00 AM and returns at 5:00 PM. With the program only in its beginning stages, it is certain to grow - not only to more routes in Orlando, but most likely to other cities as well. The Bike Bus, as a fun, safe, and visible way to travel to work, also raises the profile of bicyclists as legitimate road users along major roads.


As the Central Florida Bike Bus has only been in existence since August of 2010, only a few riders have become regulars, while many more have been occasional riders. With the growing emphasis on lowering a person's carbon footprint and a shift towards considering pedestrians and bicyclists in infrastructure planning to a greater degree, the Bike Bus is likely to become more popular in the future.


Jason Buckner/Kitzzy Aviles

Central Florida Bike Bus
Orlando, Fl 32816


Central Florida Bike Bus. (2010). Central Florida Bike Bus. Retrieved from
Florida Department of Transportation. (2010). Bicycle Laws. Retrieved from
4 on a Quarter. (2009). Peace, Love, Hope, and High School Students. Retrieved from

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