Schools across the country are being invited to sign up for The Big Pedal 2017 – a national challenge to get more young people cycling and scooting to school, backed by double Olympic gold medallist cyclist Joanna Rowsell Shand.
The Big Pedal 2017, which runs from Monday 20 to Friday 31 March, will see children, parents and teachers across the UK leave their cars at home and get on their bikes and scooters for their journeys to and from school.
Active travel does not just begin and end at the school gates, it can be incorporated into lively classroom activities.
This year’s theme ‘Around the world in 10 days’, links to key parts of the geography curriculum, as well as other subjects.
Participating primary and secondary schools will receive a pack of teaching resources, including a map of the world for pupils to track their progress.
Pupils can learn about the towns, cities, countries and continents they pass through via a series of cycling and scooting related facts provided as part of the resources pack.
Stops along the way include France, China, Antarctica, Netherlands, South Africa, Malawi, New Zealand, Columbia and the USA.
When passing through China, for example, pupils will learn that half of the one billion bicycles in the world are here.
During the 10 days, schools will compete with one another to make the most journeys by bike or scooter.
Children, parents and teachers will be able to log, track and compare their journeys online using The Big Pedal website.
The proportion of children walking and cycling to school has been declining since 1995, with the number being driven to primary school increasing each year – as many as one in four cars on the road during the morning peak are on the school run.
Children in the UK now lag far behind their peers in other nations for active travel. Only about 2-3% of UK children cycle to school compared to 49% of all Dutch primary school children.
Powered by national walking and cycling charity Sustrans and funded by the Bicycle Association on behalf of the cycle industry through its Bike Hub scheme, The Big Pedal has become the UK’s largest competition of its kind.
Last year more than 1,500 schools signed up to take part and teachers, parents, siblings and pupils made more than a million journeys (1,179,900) to school on their bikes and scooters.
In total, participants travelled more than three million miles – the equivalent to more than 123 trips around the world – as well as saving two million car journeys and more than 847 tonnes of C02.
The Big Pedal 2016 saved more than 2,500 gallons of fuel worth more than £12,000 and saw pupils, teachers and parents burn nearly 1.8million calories or a massive 7,000 donuts.
Joanna Rowsell Shand is supporting The Big Pedal for the second year running.
One of the best British cyclists of her generation, Joanna has won five world titles across individual and team events and gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
She said: “Cycling is great for young people’s health, confidence and independence. The safer and more comfortable they feel on their bikes, the more they will enjoy cycling.
“The Big Pedal campaign is a fantastic way for kids to cycle together whilst learning about the rules of the road in a fun, engaging way. I hope this year as many schools as possible will take part in the UK’s largest school cycling and scooting event.”
Ben Merry, Behaviour Change Coordinator for Education at Sustrans, said: “The average primary school journey is just 1.6 miles – the perfect distance to walk or cycle.
“The Big Pedal is fun, inclusive and it helps schools to encourage whole families to lead more active lives, as well as reducing car traffic and pollution around the school gates.
“Although the competition runs for two weeks, it has a lasting effect on the way that the school community travel to school – last year 75% of schools that took part in the Big Pedal said pupils continued to cycle and scoot to school following the event.”
The Big Pedal 2017 is open to individual classes as well as whole schools, with hundreds of thousands of pupils expected to take part.
All schools will be entered into daily prize draws for rewards, including bike and BMX stunt shows and equipment if more than 15% of a school cycle or scoot on each day of the challenge.
For schools unable to take part in the main challenge there is also a one-day version, which can include cycling and scooting activities in the school day as well as on the journey to school.
To celebrate the finale of the challenge there is also the option to join Sustrans superhero fundraising day.
To register for The Big Pedal 2017 visit www.bigpedal.org.uk