Amaury Piquiot: bringing green mobility to the school run
Thanks to Amaury Piquiot, children in six Normandy towns can now get to school with a smile – using peddle power! In 2014, inspired by a concept devised in the Netherlands, Piquiot and some friends started S’Cool Bus, a shared bicycle bus service. The benefits of this eco-friendly transport solution are widely recognised.
At age 28, Amaury Piquiot still goes to primary school each morning. And yet he’s not France’s biggest dunce, but a visionary. Every day, he takes children to and from school on board an unlikely vehicle, the S’Cool Bus. This shared electric bike can transport up to eight little passengers, not including the driver. It features nine individual sets of pedals, so the children can help out if they like, as well as a trunk to store school bags, helmets and hi‑vis vests. But how did the Rouen-born entrepreneur with the permanent smile come up with this idea for green transport?
Student project turned success story
The answer lies in the Netherlands. The young man spent time in the country in 2012 for an internship as part of his business school studies, travelling 15 kilometres each day by bike to get to work. “One day, I saw a load of laughing kids overtake me on this strange contraption,” says Piquiot. Four months later, back at business school in Rouen, his assignment was to come up with an idea for a start-up in the transport sector, with a sustainable development angle. For over a year on his own time, Piquiot had already been working on the idea of a shared bicycle solution for children. Then, with the help of some childhood friends “met at the Rouen ice hockey club between the ages of 4 and 8”, he decided to take the plunge. “We couldn’t understand why young people today no longer seemed to have the same values – sharing, respect, mutual support – that we learnt from team sports. We wanted to transmit those values through this educational, sporty and eco‑friendly project,” says Piquiot, a several-time French hockey champion with his friends.
Turning the school run green
In 2014, the friends travelled to the Netherlands several times to meet with the inventor of the inspiration for the S’Cool Bus. They improved on the prototype and brought one back to Normandy, where they set up a non-profit organisation and tested the concept at a local primary school. One year later, the project received a boost from a fundraiser on Ulule. And in 2016, things really took off when authorities in the Seine-Eure conurbation put their faith in the non-profit by granted them a subsidy and creating the first S’Cool Bus line in the town of Louviers. The organisation now has 12 employees and S’Cool Buses run on ten daily and four weekly lines in six towns in the conurbation.
An educational, ecological concept with health benefits
For the children, the project has been life changing. S’Cool Bus raises their awareness of road safety, environmental issues and sustainable development through green mobility, teaching the children about the importance of working together and ending power struggles been bigger and smaller kids, as well as mutual respect. The children have made S’Cool Bus friends and become more autonomous and responsible. “Parents tell us the kids have stopped complaining about getting up in the morning and actually want to go to school,” says Piquiot. This is not to mention the health benefits brought by daily physical activity. “There was one little girl who was overweight and had to use respiratory equipment at night due to pulmonary issues she’d had since birth. Since she started taking the S’Cool Bus, her doctors observed that her lungs had grown for the first time in ten years and that her overall health was improving. Her mother said that we were saving her daughter’s life,” says the young entrepreneur, visibly moved. The project even received the backing of the French medical council.
A S’Cool Bus factory
For parents too, the S’Cool Bus effect is contagious, encouraging them to change their way of thinking and make more environmentally friendly travel choices. In addition, road traffic around the schools has decreased. Bolstered by the project’s success, Piquiot and his partners, who recently won the “France Mobilités” label, are thinking big. They are putting the finishing touches on their own factory, which will open its doors in 2020, with the goal of putting S’Cool Bus on the market by 2021. It seems like a done deal, given that “we’re already receiving orders daily, from around the globe”. It looks like the Rouen friends are well on their way to bringing to life their slogan: “We want to make a better planet for our children, but especially better children for our planet.”