Families locally are being invited to take up the Big Pedal 2021 – the UK’s largest cycling, walking, wheeling and scooting competition for primary and secondary schools. Organised by Sustrans’ the long-running competition to get more people travelling actively to school has been modified this year to enable children learning at home due to the pandemic to take part.

The competition has been running for 11 years and is fronted by Dame Sarah Storey, British Paralympian and 38-time world champion in cycling and swimming. 

A County Fermanagh School that are taking part in this years challenge. Photograph: John McVitty
A County Fermanagh School that are taking part in this years challenge. Local schools and pupils are being asked to take part in Big Pedal 2021. Photograph: John McVitty

Big Pedal 2021 will run from 19 to 30 April 2021 and will see young people across the UK compete with one another to make the most journeys by cycling, walking, scooting or using a wheelchair. 

The theme of this year’s competition, ‘Amazing Journeys’ will encourage pupils to see their local areas from a different perspective and learn about the benefits of active travel. 

With the Covid-19 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. 

Regular physical activity is important to promote good bodily and mental health, with guidance from the UK’s Chief Medical Officers recommending children partake in 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

Sustrans Active School Travel Programme is funded by the Public Health Agency and the Department for Infrastructure and works with over 430 schools across Northern Ireland, helping pupils, families and staff to leave the car behind and take to their feet or two wheels to get to school.

Beth Harding, Active School Travel Manager in Northern Ireland, said: “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.

“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”. 

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."

Another fun and easy way to get involved in this year’s Big Pedal is to enter the family competition. Share pictures or a short video of you and your children getting active between 19-30 April using #BigPedalWin on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Whether your child is a seasoned pro at cycling, walking, scooting or using a wheelchair to get to school, or just getting started, download our family guide to a hassle-free school run: WWW.SUSTRANS.ORG.UK

Ask your child’s school to sign up to Sustrans Big Pedal 2021.  
For more information visit WWW.BIGPEDAL.ORG.UK

Find out more about Sustrans at:
Twitter @sustransNI #BigPedal
Facebook @SustransNI

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