Gear up for the Big Pedal challenge

Joanna Rowsell Shand

Joanna Rowsell Shand

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Cycling charity Sustrans are inviting primary and secondary schools in Bedfordshire to get involved in The Big Pedal 2017.

Backed by two times Olympic gold medallist cyclist Joanna Rowsell Shand, the national challenge aims to get more young people cycling and scooting to school.

The event runs from Monday, March 20 until Friday, March 31, when 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.

During the 10 days schools will compete with one another to make the most journeys by bike or scooter. This year’s theme is ‘Around the world in 10 days’ with pupils tracking their progress on a map of the world.

Joanna, who is supporting The Big Pedal for a second time, 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.”

Last year, more than 1,500 schools signed up to take part in The Big Pedal. Teachers, parents, siblings and pupils made more than a million journeys (1,179,900) to school on their bikes and scooters.

Sustrans has been working with schools in Bedfordshire since 2012 and last year it delivered 421 activities across 32 schools. These sessions were attended by 43,696 children, parents and teachers.

For schools unable to take part in the main challenge there is also a one-day version. This can include cycling and scooting activities in the school day as well as on the journey to school.

To celebrate the finale there is also the option to join Sustrans superhero fundraising day. 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.

Visit www.bigpedal.org.uk

Matt Easter, England Director for the Midlands and East at Sustrans, said: “The Big Pedal is fun and inclusive, it helps schools to encourage whole families to lead more active lives. The average primary school journey is just 1.6 miles – the perfect distance to walk or cycle helping to reduce car traffic and pollution around the school gates.

“Last year two thirds of schools that took part in The Big Pedal said pupils continued to cycle and scoot to school following the event. The competition only runs for two weeks but it has a lasting effect on the way people travel to school which is great for everyone.”