The Big Pedal is the UK’s largest inter-school cycling, walking and scooting challenge. The aim is to inspire pupils, staff and parents to choose human power for their journeys to school. Schools across the country are encouraged to sign up and participate to compete with other schools in getting as many students, staff members and parents to join in. There are prizes up for grabs too! More importantly, following on from previous Big Pedal events, 82% of schools surveyed said that pupils continued to cycle or scoot to school after the event which shows that the project is an excellent opportunity to encourage positive behaviour change.
Did you know, the average primary school journey in the UK is just 1.6 miles (which would take approximately half an hour to walk), however, one in four cars on the road in the morning peak, will be doing the school run!
There are an overwhelming number of benefits in encouraging active travel to and from school. For example, studies show that children who arrive to school by foot, are much more prepared to learn that day as they tend to be more relaxed and alert; generally speaking their wellbeing is much more enhanced. Overall, physical and mental health can be drastically improved, exercise is an indispensable part of a child’s life and it is advised that children get up to 60 minutes of physical activity per day – active travel to school is an excellent way to work towards this goal and incorporate regular activity into the daily routine (for both parents and children!) Walking, cycling or scooting to school provides the perfect opportunity for children to learn about their local area and gain important independence skills along with forming regular, healthy habits. By travelling to school by one of these modes, children are likely to develop important road awareness skills and it is a good opportunity to reinforce the highway code and road safety skills.
Additionally, by reducing the number of vehicles on the road there can also be a reduction in air pollution and congestion which has overwhelming benefits for the local area and population within it.
Barriers to active travel to school often include distance, time and safety. For those that may live too far from their local school to walk, there is always the option of ‘Park and Stride’. This concept is heavily promoted by Living Streets. The principle is for those that are unable to enjoy the walk to school due to distance, is to either, get off their bus a few stops earlier and walk the remaining distance or to park further away from school and walk the rest of the journey. Living Streets provides some great advice and resources on how to get started.
If you would like to get involved in The Big Pedal, find out more information and how to sign up here. Additionally, for tips and advice on how to get active on the journey to and from school visit the Living Streets website or Sustrans website.