A bicycle bus is being trialled in a Suffolk town by a charity with the motto "more smiles per mile".

Bury St Edmunds Rickshaw has loaned the four-metre long bike, which is believed to be one of only a couple in the country, with a view to buying its own to transport children to school to cut down on emissions.

If the trial goes well, Libby Ranzetta, one of the founders of Bury Rickshaw, said they would look to raise the £15,000 to purchase one of these bikes from the Netherlands where they are made.

She said: The plan is to encourage active travel to school and reduce car travel to benefit children's health and the environment.

"We have a bicycle bus on loan from Evesham Adventure Playground Association so we can test whether it's suitable.

"If it is, we will fundraise for our own bike. We're grateful to Greene King for garaging the bike and to St Edmunds Care Ltd for buying the children's helmets we need for the trial."

East Anglian Daily Times: If the bicycle bus trial goes well, Bury St Edmunds Rickshaw want to purchase one from the NetherlandsIf the bicycle bus trial goes well, Bury St Edmunds Rickshaw want to purchase one from the Netherlands (Image: Bury St Edmunds Rickshaw)

The bicycle bus embarked on its maiden voyage on December 23, delivering Christmas meals as part of an initiative involving West Suffolk College and Bury St Edmunds Town Council.

Currently, Bury Rickshaw volunteers are trying out the bike to "put it through its paces".

Ms Ranzetta said it can take two adults and seven children pedalling, plus two small non-pedalling children.

It has battery-powered electric assist, six gears (including reverse) and powerful brakes.

The charity wants to develop an active travel scheme, initially with Guildhall Feoffment Primary School and St Edmund's Catholic Primary School, which are both in the historic centre of the town.

The local residents' group, the Churchgate Area Association, and West Suffolk Hive eco organisation are also involved.

In 2020 West Suffolk Council launched a campaign in partnership with several schools, including Guildhall and St Edmund's primaries, to encourage motorists to switch off their idling engines when waiting for their children.

Ms Ranzetta added: "We want to encourage safer cycling and the bicycle bus a good way of doing that."

The proposed scheme will also include walking buses, scooting and cycling (sometimes called crocodiles).

Bury Rickshaw, which started in 2018, has the bicycle bus until the end of January.

The charity is known for its 'joy rides’ service for those experiencing social isolation and has also played an important role during the coronavirus pandemic by delivering essential supplies and taking people to get their jabs.

For more information about Bury Rickshaw visit the website.