It’s that time of year again: when the clouds part (hopefully) and the spring bulbs are in full bloom, so it must be time for the annual push to encourage people to be fitter, get out and tell them to get on their bike!
Each year, Sustrans, a charity with the aim of making it easier for people to walk and cycle around the country, organise a week called The Big Pedal which has become the UK’s largest inter-school cycling, walking and scooting challenge. It supports staff, pupils and parents and encourages them to use human power to get themselves to and from school. The charity connects people and places with the aim of creating “liveable neighbourhoods, transforming the school run and delivering a happier and healthier commute”.
And since this is a challenge, there are some great prizes to be won for eligible schools too.
2020 is the tenth year of the challenge which runs for 10 days from the 22nd April to the 5th May. It is open to all primary and secondary schools in the UK, including SEN schools. Schools in England and Wales need to have a DfE number to apply. Schools in Scotland should use their SEED number and in Northern Ireland, they should use their Inst Ref number. You can still participate in your own version of the challenge as a nursery or other setting if you don’t have one of these numbers, but you will not be eligible to win prizes. However, there is nothing to stop you from creating your own in-house competition and you can compare how you are doing to the schools registered on the website.
So what’s involved?
On each day of the challenge, schools compete to see who can accumulate the highest percentage of pupils, staff and parents who cycle, walk or scoot to school. By 9am, schools must log journeys that their staff, parents and pupils take to school on the days they wish to enter. There is a daily competition, as well as a five-day challenge in which the best five day’s results from a school are totalled and compared to others. If over 15% of the school community registers an eligible journey, then the school is entered into a prize draw to win some cool prizes such as bikes, including equipment and accessories, but you can always give out some free fruit or a book token as well!
There are currently over 1500 schools registered, representing over half a million pupils.
Another aim of the week is to get authorities and planners to sit up and take notice and to raise awareness of the changes that pupils, parents and staff would like to see in their local areas, so Sustrans also asks people to think about the changes they’d like to see and how these could be implemented.
The charity provide a host of free resources on their website at https://bigpedal.org.uk/ which are available to download, even if you have not registered your school, including:
- An introductory PowerPoint
- Information and top tips posters
- A general poster advertising the week
- A parent letter template
- A family guide to the week
Calling all superheroes!
One fun and exciting way to participate in the week is to join in on Superhero Day. The final challenge day is a day which is also used to raise money for the charity as well as awareness, and participants are encouraged to dress up as their favourite superhero for the day. But you can use any of the 10 days as your Superhero Day if you want to. There are 4 main steps to joining in:
- Download the parents’ letter and send it out to advise parents about the day
- Encourage everyone to dress up for the day – the theme is superheroes but if you have your own ideas, then that’s fine too. You can print a superhero mask template from the website here
- Decorate your setting and get on your bikes!
- Collect the money – the suggested donation is £1 for dressing up but you could hold other fundraising opportunities too, such as a cake sale or ask people to be sponsored for their journeys.
Where does the money go?
Sustrans uses the money raised to help them with their charitable aims including:
- Creating places that are walkable and cycle-friendly
- Supporting people, in their communities, to have the opportunity and ability to walk, cycle, scoot or wheel
- Working with decision-makers to create policies that make walking and cycling a more attractive choice
One of the main things that Sustrans coordinate and promote is the National Cycle Network, a UK-wide network of signed paths and routes for walking, cycling, wheeling and exploring outdoors. The routes are free to use and offer cycle lanes and paths that are traffic-free making them safer for all users, especially children.
The Big Pedal is a great opportunity for you to help make a real difference to the community and environment that you work in. Due to current restrictions, you may not be able to do this immediately, but you could set up a Big Pedal day later in the year. So go on,
For more information, see https://bigpedal.org.uk/ which is also available in Welsh.