With just a fortnight to go until the launch of the Big Pedal 2019, schools are being encouraged to sign up for the UK’s largest cycling, walking and scooting challenge.
Organised by the walking and cycling charity Sustrans, the competition runs from Monday 25 March to Friday 5 April and encourages young people to travel by bike, foot or scooter for their journey to and from school.
Schools are being encouraged to register at www.bigpedal.org.uk to take part in the 10 day challenge.
Participating primary and secondary schools will compete with one another to make the most journeys by bike, foot or scooter. If more than 15% of a school cycle, walk or scoot on each day of the challenge, schools and classes will be entered into daily prize draws for rewards, including scooters.
The theme of this year’s Big Pedal is ‘Travelling around the body’, with pupils tracking their progress on a wall chart, learning about the human body and how active travel benefits their health as they go.
For schools unable to take part in the main challenge there is also a one-day version, which can include cycling, walking and scooting activities during the school day as well as on the journey to school.
This year’s competition aims to build on last year’s success, when schools in Devon that took part, supported by the Active Travel Schools project, saved over 12,500 car trips as a result. And in the Big Pedal 2017, the Cranbrook Education Campus finished third nationally. Already double the number of Devon schools have signed up compared to last year, and it is not too late to sign up and take part.
Walking and cycling can play a key role in improving air quality outside the school gates while helping to boost children’s activity levels.
New research shows four in 10 children are breathing toxic air at school, leaving pupils at an increased risk of developing lifelong conditions including asthma and some schools across the UK will be closing the road to traffic outside their school during the Big Pedal – a first for the competition.
James Cleeton, Sustrans Director for the South of England said: “In the South of England we delighted to already have over 260 schools registered to take part, which is a 15% increase from last year—and I hope more will still sign up. We also have many schools across the South confirming they will close their streets to cars and open them to people, demonstrating how people prioritised streets can create a much more pleasant and safer environment for everyone to travel.”
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for cycling, said: “The Big Pedal is a great challenge to help young people get involved in active travel to school. Our schools in the county have a great track record of supporting active travel initiatives, and a couple of years ago the schools in Cranbrook achieved an incredible result in the Big Pedal. We're trying to get as many schools in Devon as possible to take part this year to enjoy the health and environmental benefits of walking, cycling or scooting to school.”
The Big Pedal 2019 is open to individual classes as well as whole schools, with hundreds of thousands of pupils expected to take part.
For more information visit www.bigpedal.org.uk