Sustrans’ 2021 Big Pedal, the UK’s largest cycling effort among primary and secondary schools is to this year be fronted by Dame Sarah Storey, British Paralympian and 38-time world champion in cycling and swimming.
The coordinated effort to encourage active travel as part of the school run will take place beginning April 19th and run though to April 30th. As previously, schools will compete to rack up the largest combined mileage, with the theme of this year’s competition set as “amazing journeys”; a bid to encourage pupils to see their local areas from a different perspective and learn about the benefits of active travel.
For bike shops, the annual event is an opportunity to get to know customers and offer service and advice on how to make the most of the school run and to complete it safely. YouGov data has shown that 71% of parents would like to see their local authorities take steps to make active travel as part of the school run a more enjoyable and safe experience. The Big Pedal therefore serves as a platform on which to demonstrate demand and learn more about how local conditions could be improved.
With the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns resulting in many spending more time at home, Sustrans Big Pedal 2021 is adapting to become more flexible, and children will be able to take part in the competition and supporting activities whether they are travelling to school or learning at home.
The guidance from the UK’s Chief Medical Officer recommends that children partake in 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
Suggesting we may be missing targets, new data from Sport England suggests there has been a decline in the physical activity levels of children due to the pandemic, with almost a third of children in England engaging in less than 30 minutes of daily physical activity in the 2019 – 2020 academic year. Sustrans’ Big Pedal challenge is an easy way for families to stay active whether schools are open or not.
Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner for the Sheffield City Region, said: “I am delighted to be involved with the Big Pedal in 2021, and delighted it will be pandemic-proof this year too!
“Health has been in the spotlight over the past year, like never before, and getting out for a cycle ride has been one of the few activities that has been unaffected by the various restrictions.
“Staying active is one of the ways we can all play our part in protecting the NHS throughout our lives, as active people are less likely to fall into ill-health and suffer from the many diseases caused by not getting enough exercise.
“I really hope to see as many people as possible involved this year, it will be a fantastic way to start the Spring and to give ourselves a challenge in what has already been a challenging start to the year.”
Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans, added: “We’re excited that the Big Pedal is returning for 2021, after what has been a truly difficult year for all, and the need to make time to incorporate physical activity into our daily routines seems important now more than ever.
“Whilst we don’t know exactly what the rest of 2021 will bring in terms of coronavirus restrictions, we’re delighted pupils will be able to take part, regardless of where they are learning.
“Active travel has proven its worth over the past year, with more people looking for socially distanced ways to move around and remain active in lockdown. As we look towards life after Covid-19, and schools returning as normal, we hope to see local authorities use the next stage of funding announced in November for cycling and walking to continue to make it easier for families to travel actively to school.
“More people travelling actively for essential every day journeys such as the school run means fewer cars on the road, helping to ease congestion and reduce air pollution around school gates”.
Another fun and easy way for your customers to get involved in this year’s Big Pedal is to enter the family competition. Share pictures or a short video getting active between 19-30 April using #BigPedalWin on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Sustrans’ has produced this family guide to assist parents in developing a hassle free school run.