Bike Life

Nature school, preschool or day care - by bike!

Nature school, preschool or day care - by bike!

Expand your range from one playground to dozens. 

Visit the chickens, the deer, and the geese. See your special tree changing through the seasons.

Take your whole class to the fire station - and stop for snack time in the park on the way home.

Pick up your aftercare crew, with room to spare for backpacks and gear.

At nature schools, preschools and day cares across the country, educators are discovering the joy of electric cargo bikes.

It's the low-stress, low-cost, kid-friendly way to get out and about - with 6-8 kids per adult!

We interviewed some of the veteran Preschool Bunch Bike owners in our community to learn more.

Read on for details, funding tips and inspiration from our wonderful early childhood educators, nature school leaders and childcare providers!

No van, no problem

In Europe, it's normal to see preschools and day cares getting around by cargo bike. A home-based provider might use one bike, or a bike plus a trailer, while larger centers might have 2-3 bikes to make it easy for an entire classroom to go out together.

In the US, most providers get around on foot, by stroller wagon. But if they're looking for more range, they come up against the van dilemma.

Vans cost tens of thousands - especially the newer, safer models. They need gas and maintenance and up-to-date car seats, and they create huge insurance headaches.

Then there's the stress of piling all the kids into the van - and back out again. Although a 10-passenger van doesn't require special licensing, some providers can't drive it or just don't want to. 

Enter the cargo bike. "It was like a light bulb came on," one provider told us.

Kids in preschool bunch bike with helmets

Why cargo bike? 

With a cargo bike, one adult can easily transport six or more children of all ages - and their gear. There are special booster seats for infants and toddlers. Older kids can ride inside too, wearing the provided 3-point seat belts, so it's easy to bring along your whole crew. 

The three-wheeled format makes the cargo bike super stable and easy to ride, even for beginners. There is an adjustable electric assist, so that the bike's powerful motor handles most of the weight. The adult puts forth only a light effort similar to walking - and as our providers say - it's just fun! 

Kids as young as 2 can easily climb in and out of the cargo bike. They ride in front and up high, so that they can see the world, talk to each other and to the teacher throughout the trip. This makes the journey part of the fun - and part of the lesson.

A comfortable passenger area means that your group can sing songs, chat with neighbors and community helpers, observe the natural world, and enjoy snack time or a potty break - right in your bike. 

Muddy River preschool bike

Daily adventures

Many of the nature schools in our community use their Bunch Bikes daily. Lindsay of Muddy River Nature School writes, "We were walking 1.2 miles each way to visit the woods. The bike offers us the opportunity to go every day or even multiple times a day." 

Cassie of Wonderfully Wild Nature School adds, "We generally ride for the sake of riding, checking in on our favorite places and watching how nature changes due to weather, seasons or human influence. We watch for wildlife. We check in on the fire station and the police station. We watch trains coming and going, and we watch construction sites for new builds. I try to alternate our routes, so we have community one day and green spaces another day." 

For Adrianne of Growing Rainbows, the greatest impact of the bike was expanding her range. Before the Bunch Bike, she could only get as far as the littlest walker could go. "Keeping the same places exciting could be challenging," she writes. With the bike, though, "We can go to the library, there are so many parks we can visit or we can just pile in and go for a ride." 

Several providers also said they use the Bunch to pick up older kids from a local elementary school for aftercare. It's cheaper than a van - and a lot more fun!

Two preschool bunch bikes  

Special destinations

A cargo bike also opens up a wide world of special field trips. Doan, a home-based provider, writes that she used to take her group to a county farm park once a year - but had to ask their parents to drop them off specially, and always struggled with the long trip back to her home.

With the bike, her group can make the trip more frequently, and without any special planning. She writes, "Nowadays we get there in 15 minutes, it's a quick trip and they can snack and giggle in the bike. We moved from the chicken coop to the turtle pond with ease! My only regret was to not get this bike sooner." 

Cassie of Wonderfully Wild takes her group to the local fire station, where the firefighters answer the kids' questions and hand out junior firefighter hats.

Some of their other special destinations include the post office, the zoo, a nature hiking trail, and more. She writes, "Last spring, we rode to the local greenhouse where we bought an apple tree and brought it back in the bike to plant it. My students loved it." 

Apple tree in the preschool bunch bike


Access for all

Several providers mentioned that the bike makes it easier to include children of all ages and abilities in their outings. 

The bike provides a convenient base camp as well as safe transportation for the littlest children who may want more rest breaks. It also offers a quiet retreat spot for a child who needs time to regroup or for those with sensory needs.

Cassie shared, "I have had students with special needs who were unable to do nature walks for safety reasons. The bike gave me a level playing field to get ALL of my students out in nature." 

Pink bunch bike preschool

Safety first

All the providers we spoke to use helmets and seatbelts in the bike - every time. They also ensure they have the correct booster seats for infants and toddlers in their program.

About half of the programs provide helmets for their students in order to ensure that every student has a properly fitted helmet. (Plus, they match!) The helmets are labeled with children's initials or color coded so that the fit won't need to be readjusted on every ride. 

Other providers ask parents to provide a properly fitted helmet as part of their supply list. These groups also have a couple of spares on hand if needed.

In most programs, parents do sign a special permission form or waiver expressly permitting their children to ride in the cargo bike. Some providers incorporate the bike into their field trip paperwork. Kath of Adventure Collegiate Day Home writes, "It's a selling point!" 

Adults who are piloting the bike also need to wear helmets and learn to operate the bike safely and confidently. Centers with multiple teachers typically ask each teacher to watch our videos, take our safety quiz, and get comfortable handling the bike solo before riding with students. 

Local celebrities

Six or more kids on a cargo bike definitely turn heads! If you bike with your students, be prepared to become well known in your neighborhood, attract lots of questions and build relationships with community helpers. The local fire chief once told Cassie, "You're the talk of the town with that bike!"

We offer free custom graphics for all educators - so you can feature your center's logo and contact information on the front panel of your bike. Some centers also choose to add a full custom wrap.

Expect a lengthy waiting list once families in your town learn that you are "the bike school!"  

two preschool bunch bikes - muddy river nature school

Licensing and insurance

The providers we spoke to are licensed and insured and took care to confirm that their cargo bikes would not pose a problem for their programs.

Most found that their licensors were enthusiastic about the bike. One noted that the bike is covered under general "daycare equipment" so long as it is kept in good repair. Another provider said she did have to provide detailed risk assessments of her program's trip destinations.

Bike rides were typically covered by the program's existing liability insurance, and one provider also added the bike itself to her home insurance in case of theft or damage. 

One provider, Erin of The Little People's Place, wrote that she did have an uphill battle to get her bike approved by regulators in North Dakota when she relocated her program - and her bike - from Minnesota. She eventually was approved and offered to share tips with any new providers who are running into regulation roadblocks. You can contact her directly through our Bunch Squad map!

Funding ideas

A cargo bike is a lot less expensive than a van - but it costs more than a stroller wagon. It's a big investment, especially for smaller and home-based programs.

We asked providers in our community to share how they paid for their Bunch Bikes. Here are some of their answers!

"We used monthly financing through Affirm. It was a big monthly cost until we paid it off but totally worth it!" 

"We found grant funding." We got this response from several providers. Some used COVID grants, some used special funding for businesses to purchase electric or sustainable transportation, and some applied for local micromobility opportunities. 

"I did a GoFundMe. Parents were super excited and contributed what they could. Never any pressure though." 

"We held a series of Parents Night Out fundraisers. Parents put in $50-$100 to drop off their kids 6pm-9pm and we provided pizza and a movie! It was a good deal for parents because babysitting is expensive in our area and we were able to raise money quickly." 

"We saved up for it over time. We had already been saving for an electric stroller so we had money set aside, but if not, we would have done a fundraiser." 

"My family chipped in and then I wrote off the rest as a business expense. I've never regretted it. My families new and old love the bike!" 

"We rent it out to our families on the weekends to make a little extra money! We also participate in the referral program." 

Locking & logistics

A cargo bike requires some planning - for storage, security and maintenance. We've compiled some great tips from experienced providers.

"Our bike parks outdoors under the storage cover. We installed a ground anchor and we make sure to lock it up every time we return." 

"We live in a very small rural community so we have never had to worry about theft. We have a small shed for the bike with hooks for helmets."

"I have a wheel lock as well as a heavy chain lock. We lock up even for short stops." 

"We keep the bike in my garage overnight." 

"The bike needs tire pressure checked regularly. We store the battery indoors during winter. We always carry a first aid kit, extra diapers, a flat kit and a tire pressure cartridge." 

"We use a cargo bike trailer on each of our bikes to bring along additional gear. Being an urban nature school means we leave no trace in all our public places." 

Challenges and downsides

As with any other adventure - there are challenges and difficulties that come with cargo biking.

Stephanie, a home-based provider, shared that it can be embarrassing to deal with tantrums if they take place in the bike. "Nobody cares if a child cries in the car, but if they cry in the bike it feels like you are on display in traffic." 

Two providers mentioned that they would love more storage space inside the bike. They tend to hang gear off the sides or carry it in a trailer, but the trailer option can drain the battery more quickly. 

One provider mentioned that the ride can be bumpy at higher speeds, especially on unpaved roads and trails, and that more shock absorption would be helpful. 

Finally, one provider shared that it is not easy to change a flat tire on the side of the road. We do recommend tire liners for providers who are traveling in flat-prone areas. Checking your tire pressure regularly is the most important step you can take to avoid flats!

Customer service & community

Several providers mentioned how valuable they have found the customer community as well as personal support from the Bunch team.

Karla of Joyful Noise Child Care writes, "We love our Bunch. We love the company even more! Aaron, Lelac and everyone I've ever worked with at Bunch has always gone above and beyond my expectations. They make owning the bike go exceptional to extraordinary!" 

Kath of Adventure Collegiate Day Home adds, "Customer service is unbelievable. I would go here every time and spend more money just for the kindness. You really feel valued as a person, it’s a gift." 

From Adrianne: "Bunch is an amazing company with awesome people who have been truly one of the best companies I've ever gotten anything from. I can't say enough good things about them!"

We love reading these comments because those relationships are at the heart of our purpose and mission. We are here to make the bike life easy, accessible and stress free!

Last thoughts

 "Our bike adds a sense of adventure and joy. We love going for a ride! We highly recommend it - especially for the sense of community and not feeling stuck at home." - Janelle, Ms. Janelle's Neighbor School

"I absolutely love what our bikes add to our program." - Lindsay, Muddy River Nature School

"We love the freedom to explore and enjoy our community." - Stacey, Big Timber Day Care

"I love everything about my bike! I love watching the seasons change with the kids while we ride. I love how excited they get while riding. I love that we get to be more active in our community. I love that every park is within reach now. I love that I always have space to change a diaper when we’re out. I love that my kids have such impressive awareness of road signs. I love that if we need to turn around and come home for some reason it’s so much quicker than in a stroller. I love that it’s a safe way to accomplish an evacuation in the event of an emergency. I’m sure there’s way more that I’m not thinking of right now!" - Erin, The Little People's Place 

"My bike is freedom. It brings so much joy to us and others we see along the way. It's advertising my program A LOT!" - Kath, Adventure Collegiate Day Home

"It's so fun - for me and the kids." - Karla, Joyful Noise Child Care

"This bike has changed my life! I can't imagine my business without it."

- Stephanie, home-based provider


Thank you so much for sharing your expertise, your inspiration, your adventures, your photos, and the hard and messy parts too: 

Lindsay of Muddy River Nature School

Adrianne of Growing Rainbows Day Care

Sarah of Sarah's Littles Adventures in Playschool

Cassie of Wonderfully Wild Nature School

Beckie of Viva Early Learning

Stacey of Big Timber Day Care

Erin of The Little People's Place

Karla of Joyful Noise Childcare

Janelle of Ms. Janelle's Neighbor School

Kath of Adventure Collegiate Day Home

Doan and Stephanie, home-based providers

We're grateful for all you do for your students, your families, your communities - and our Bunch fam!

Ready to learn more? 

We'd love to connect with you! You can email, call or text us anytime.

Reach out to a childcare provider who's signed up for our Bunch Squad program.

Or click here to schedule a one-on-one chat with our experts to help you figure out the right fit for your program. 

Reading next

The Bunch Bike Blue Book
Help us go BIG for World Down Syndrome Day!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.