Schools are being invited to take up the Big Pedal 2019 – the UK’s largest cycling, walking and scooting challenge for schools.
This year’s competition is backed by Angellica Bell, British television, radio presenter and cycling advocate, who took on the ‘Tour de Celeb’ in 2016 where she found her love for cycling.
Organised by the walking and cycling charity Sustrans, the competition will run from Monday 25 March to Friday 5 April and will encourage young people from across the UK to travel by bike, foot or scooter for their journey to and from school.
During the 10 days, participating primary and secondary schools will compete with one another to make the most journeys by bike, foot or scooter.
To coincide with this year’s event, dozens of schools across the UK, will for the first time, be closing the road outside the school gates to motor vehicles. This is to limit the volume of traffic and help reduce air pollution, while creating an environment in which cycling and walking is safe, convenient and enjoyable.
New research shows four in ten children are breathing toxic air at school, leaving pupils at an increased risk of developing lifelong conditions including asthma[i]. Walking and cycling can play a key role in improving air quality outside the school gates while helping to boost children’s activity levels.
Angellica Bell, who is backing the campaign, said: “I’m delighted to be supporting this year’s Big Pedal. It’s a fantastic way to encourage more children to cycle, walk or scoot– doing wonders for their health and the environment around them.
“I hope as many schools as possible sign up for the challenge and inspire children and families across the UK to get on their feet, scooter of bike for their journey to school.”
Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans, said: “The Big Pedal may only run for two weeks but can leave a lasting effect on the way children travel to school by showing parents what’s possible and how easy it can be to leave the car at home for a few extra journeys a week. With scores of schools already confirming that they will be closing surrounding streets to cars for this year’s Big Pedal, we are confident that 2019 will be even bigger and better than 2018 and demonstrate how people prioritised streets can create a much more pleasant and safer environment for children and parents to travel.”
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.
This year’s competition aims to build on the success of 2018 which saw over 1,300 schools register to take part, with teachers, parents, siblings and pupils making more than a million journeys to school by bike or scooter.
In addition, participants travelled almost 2.4 million miles – that is nearly 96 trips around the world – and saved 1179.2 kilo grams of nitrogen oxide (NOx) from being emitted into the atmosphere. With 60,538 gallons of fuel not being used on the school run, parents also saved over £330,000 on fuel.
The Big Pedal 2019 is open to individual classes as well as whole schools, with hundreds of thousands of pupils expected to take part.
Children, parents and teachers will also be able to log, track and compare their journeys online using the Big Pedal website.
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.
Schools and classes will be entered into daily prize draws for rewards, including scooters, if more than 15% of a school cycle, walk or scoot on each day of the challenge.