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A quarter of a million schoolchildren gear up for The Big Pedal

Industry-funded initiative organised by Susrans aims to get people pedalling to school

Sustrans has revealed that more than a quarter of a million schoolchildren from 800 schools around the UK will be taking part in this year’s The Big Pedal, which gets underway next Monday and lasts for three weeks.

The initiative, organised by the sustainable transport charity and funded by the bicycle industry via Bike Hub, sees children, their parents and staff take to their bikes to make the journey to school, racking up the miles to compete for a range of prizes.

The Big Pedal aims to encourage regular cycling to school, with Sustrans saying that while currently only one per cent of children aged between five and 10 do so, its research shows over half of all children would like to.

Sustrans School Travel Director, Paul Osborne, commented, “We’re delighted with how many schools have signed up to take part. The Big Pedal is a great way for whole school communities to join together as they take on schools from across the country.

“It is vital that we give young people the opportunity to travel in ways which are healthy, sustainable and fun. Cycling to school has so many benefits for pupils such as improved health, confidence and concentration as well as the obvious benefits for the environment they will grow up in.”

Registration, via The Big Pedal website, closes this Friday, and schools can either sign up to the whole three weeks, or a special one-day stage that will coincide with Bike to School Week, which takes place between 21 and 25 March. “Stages” are similar to those in the Tour de France, with time trials, flat and mountain stages, and the more people cycle to a particular school on a specific stage, the better the time awarded, with the school recording the lowest overall time being the winner.

Philip Darnton, deputy president of the Bicycle Association, said: “The Big Pedal, delivered by Sustrans and funded by the cycle industry, celebrates the fun that cycling brings children. Learning to ride a bike is a key milestone in children’s lives, and the thrill of getting about independently is an important part of growing up. Bikeability, backed up with other wider skills programmes, gives them the confidence to ride safely, and the Big Pedal shows that children everywhere can cycle safely to school.”

The winning school will receive a visit from the M.A.D cycle stunt team, while national runners-up will get a Minipod bike and scooter storage system valued at more than £1,000, and regional winners will get a 78-piece tool kit together with work stand courtesy of Weldtite and Fisher Outdoor, which will also be providing five cycle repair tool kits and floor pumps as prizes for the daily challenges during the last week of the Big Pedal.

In terms of the number of schools taking part, this year’s entry is twice that of 12 months ago when 408 schools completed a total of 288,201 journeys, racking up nearly half a million miles in the process.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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don_don | 12 years ago

Sorry, but I'm a bit sceptical about the 'Big Pedal'.

"the motorised school run is out of control"

I agree wholeheartedly bikecellar, as I think many parents will, and that is why they will keep driving their kids to school, so as to keep them safe from all the traffic!

If all those 288201 journeys last year were made over 3 weeks (15 school days), that's just over 19000 trips a day. Assuming the counts include trips both to and from school, then that would appear to be just over 9500 individuals cycling to and from school every day of the 3 weeks (and that appears to include parents and teachers).

A quick look at the UK census data shows there are almost 4 million school-children in secondary education alone. On that basis the figures don't look too impressive.

I have nothing against the idea of the Big Pedal. I wish every school in the country would sign up to it. However, I don't think many parents will be convinced, and claiming that "Big Pedal shows that children everywhere can cycle safely to school" is frankly nonsense.

bikecellar | 12 years ago

I am up for this, daughter on the back of the tandem and two grandbairns on their bikes, their primary school has a great bikeshed well used. We need to return cycling to the mainstream for short journeys. Getting future generations in the saddle is vital, the motorised school run is out of control I sometimes think that more school run journeys are being made than work commutes, during school hols the traffic density drops markedly

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