Schools across Dorset are invited to join The Big Pedal 2017 – a national challenge to get more young people cycling and scooting to school.
The Big Pedal, which runs from Monday 20 to Friday 31 March, will see pupils, teachers and parents across the UK leave their cars at home and get on their bikes and scooters for their journeys to and from school.
Dorset County Council and Eco Schools in Dorset are backing the initiative, in partnership with the national walking and cycling charity Sustrans. The Big Pedal is the UK’s largest competition of its kind and is backed by Olympic gold medallist cyclist Joanna Rowsell Shand.
During the 10 days participating schools will compete with one another to make the most journeys by bike or scooter. By registering on the national website, they could pick up some great prizes for their efforts.
This year’s theme is ‘Around the world in 10 days’, with pupils tracking their progress on a map of the world, learning about the countries and cities they pass through on their way.
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.”
The proportion of children walking and cycling to school has been declining in England 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 (1).
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 (2).
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.
The Big Pedal 2017 is open to individual classes as well as whole schools, with hundreds of thousands of pupils expected to take part.
Peter Finney, the county council’s Cabinet member for environment said: “The Big Pedal is fun way to encourage families to lead more active lives.
“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.”
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.
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. There are also local prizes for Dorset schools sponsored by Dorset County Council.
Ask your child’s school to sign up to The Big Pedal 2017.