The message is clear: We bike bus today for safer cycling tomorrow.

In the past month two children, Elizabeth Bell, and Thomas Wong, both 11, have been killed on Scotland's roads while using active travel to make their way to school.

During the same time period, a report into the death of Emma Burke Newman, who was hit by an HGV while cycling to university in Glasgow city centre in January last year, caused dismay among the bike community due to its findings.

Collision investigators said the student had placed herself in a "vulnerable position" due to her close proximity to the lorry and said she had other options to negotiate the junction safely.

READ MORE: After a cyclist's death in Glasgow, is cycling worth the risk?

In response, Shawlands Bike Bus today held a powerful protest cycle through Glasgow's south side to highlight the vital importance of making roads safe for people cycling and walking.

Jo Wright co-founded the bike bus - the first in Scotland - three years ago with her partner and other parents.

Ms Wright said: "The bike bus has always been about us getting our kids safely to school.

"But it's also been about trying to highlight how unsafe or inequitable cities are - today was about that.

"There's been some really tragic incidents recently, and there was an 11-year-old boy killed in Edinburgh biking to school and that hit us all deeply, as well as the current inquiry into Emma Newman's death, which has been devastating here, and we wanted to do something.

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"And what can you do?

"We thought we can use our voice on the bike bus and talk to our kids about it. So we decided to have a kind of special bus today to highlight enough is enough.

"We don't want to live in a city where you can be killed just going to school and things need to change, and we know things are slowly changing but that's a red line to us.

"It's not happening fast enough.

"If we're still living in a city where that can happen and there's obviously other near misses and the deaths as well, and it's not acceptable."

Elizabeth was walking to school on January 31 near East Gordon in the Scottish Borders when she was struck by a bin lorry.

The primary school pupil died in hospital a week later, on February 7.

Thomas was hit by a bin lorry last Friday while riding his bike to school. In a statement, his family said he was "the perfect son" and "the best little brother to his older sister".

READ MORE: Shawlands Bike Bus in Glasgow joins its Barcelona inspiration

Telling the bike bus children about the deaths of their peers had been difficult but necessary, Ms Wright added, but this had been done sensitively and with expert input.

There is palpable anger and sadness among the parents when they talk about these issues.

Gareth Johnson, Ms Wright's partner and co-founder of the Shawlands Bike Bus, is writing the school travel plan for Shawlands Primary School but feels deeply conflicted about the task.

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He said: "Across the city there is a requirement to have a school travel plan for every school and it's about encouraging active travel.

"And I was looking at it, and I was reading it this week, and I don't know if I can genuinely encourage pupils at a primary to cycle to school.

"Yes, I can encourage them to join the bike bus because we've made a safe environment to do that.

"But I don't think I can be responsible for encouraging kids to ride their bikes to school when they're not on a bike bus, and that kind of hit me pretty hard."

Mr Johnson said, as a bike bus founder of this "big, joyful, colourful thing", he feels pulled in two directions by the need to encourage children to get on their bikes knowing that away from the bubble of safety of the organised ride they are vulnerable.

He added: "I feel I could be culpable in some way to an injury or to have to defend a death by encouraging people to bike.

"I really struggle with it."

READ MORE: Glasgow school bike bus should shape the future we want to see

The findings of the accident report as to the death of Ms Burke Newman had also caused consternation among the bike bus organisers.

Advanced stop lines - or "bike boxes" - are designed to allow bikes to get in front of traffic and pull away safely where they can clearly be seen by people driving.

Ms Burke Newman was in the bike box at traffic lights at a Glasgow junction but the driver of the HGV, Paul Mowat, said in court he had not seen her, despite her being in this road position.

Mr Johnson said: "They suggested that Emma had a safer way to navigate that junction and it's not clear to me what that safer way to navigate that junction would be.

"She was wearing a helmet. She had bright clothing on. None of those things should matter, she was in the piece of infrastructure that the city has designated as the safe place to be.

"And yet she was still killed and driven over the top of and I genuinely don't know what I'm supposed to do in a bike box.

"Now I don't know what I'm supposed to tell my children to do.

"If she had a safer option I genuinely don't know what that is.

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"Some people speculated that it might be getting off your bike and walking, but then someone needs to say that. Someone needs to tell cyclists in the city that it's not safe to use a bike box."

Shawlands Primary pupil Aahana Jha was one of dozens on today's cycle, joining her classmate on the roads.

The eight-year-old said: "I think it is really important that kids are able to cycle to school but they have to know how to ride on the roads and be safe."

Shawlands Bike Bus has been transformative for mother-of-two Katherine Cory, who had left her third sector job when the bike bus was founded.

She enjoyed volunteering for the bike bus to such an extent that she is now working for the Glasgow cycling charity Women on Wheels as the organisation's family coordinator.

"We obviously started the bike bus during COP26 and saw it as a sort of gentle protest.

"It was a way to kind of show that our kids want to cycle to school, but they can't do it safely.

"It has become this joyful thing that everyone expects to see, but actually that maybe dilutes the message of why we're doing it.

"When something like last week happens where a school child was killed on his bike it really hits home for our community and makes us think, 'No, we need to get a bit more vocal again."

Ms Cory was one of a number of families who travelled to Barcelona last year to see how the bike bus system works there.

The families there are "a hell of a more punk about their bike bus" than us, she said, but the groups had swapped ideas and advice.

The main change Ms Cory wants to see is a altering of the mindsets of motorists, that driving does not make a person invincible and or make it acceptable to become aggressive.

"It needs to be normalised that children can cycle to school," she added.

The Herald: Shawlands Bike Bus is campaigning for safer streets

Dr Deirdre Harrington, Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity for Health at the University of Strathclyde, is carrying out research with her colleague Dr James Bonner, Research Fellow in Physical Activity For Health.

The team is interrogating the long term impact of the UCI Cycling World Championships on Glasgow.

Dr Harrington, who joined Friday morning's cycle with Dr Bonnar, said they had surveyed 170 road users for their thoughts on the bike bus and had carried out analysis of the results.

She said: "One of the main themes that is coming out from the survey is that other people who see the bike bus are seeing it as a protest.

"They're understanding that the bike bus is sending a message about the reallocation of space away from cars and that disruption of the status quo.

"There is also a level of support as well for that message - that this protest is a call for change."

Dr Bonnar added: "It is a provocation to say 'We want something different.'

"So if the public are getting that, then I think that's really good and that message has to be taken to those with power, who control finance and change."

For the Shawlands Bike Bus parents, the call is one of action - from voters, from people who drive, and from politicians.

Mr Johnson said: "This is all down to choices we're making and it's all of us, it's us as citizens and who we vote for.

"It's us as drivers. It's people choosing to park on the zigzags outside the school.

"On the bike bus today the double parking, parking on pavements, parking at drop kerbs all of that increases the likelihood of an accident and is a product of choice.

"That goes all the way through to politicians as well.

"In Edinburgh on Thursday they had the transport committee, where they spoke about Thomas Wong, the child who was killed in Edinburgh.

"And then a couple of hours later, they spoke about removing traffic filters in a part of the city that was creating protection for not just for cyclists, but for pedestrians.

"At a national level, we had the budget this week where fuel duty was frozen again but no additional funding for public transport."

He added: "So again, you're just encouraging more and more people to get into the car and it's just this vicious cycle that somebody at some point has to stand up and do something about.

"A child has been killed cycling to school, and that shouldn't be happening."