Rural Northern Ireland Primary School wins first place in Big Pedal

Pupils on bikes

Pupils from Killylea Primary School, Co Armagh who won first place in the Big Pedal

5 May 2017

A Co Armagh school has beaten off stiff competition from across the UK to win overall first place in the Five Day category of the Big Pedal.

Pupils from Killylea Primary in rural Armagh pedalled and scooted their way to overall first place, beating schools from across the UK. The school achieved an outstanding daily average of 100% of pupils travelling to school by bike or scooter.

A record 144 schools across Northern Ireland registered to take part in The Big Pedal, which has been running since 2010.

The Big Pedal is a great way to promote sustainable travel to school, which gives children an enjoyable and sociable way to start the school day.

- Pam Lowry, Principal of Killylea PS

Over 3.2 million calories (the equivalent of over 13,000 doughnuts) were burned during Sustrans’ Big Pedal - the UK’s biggest challenge of its kind to get more young people cycling and scooting to school, backed by double Olympic champion Joanna Rowsell Shand.

The challenge, which took place for up to 10 days, saw pupils, parents and staff leave the cars at home with more than one million journeys being made by bike or scooter.

Participants travelled almost 175,000 miles by bike and scooter – that’s seven trips around the world – and saved 43 tonnes, or over 3.2 million balloons-worth, of CO2 being emitted by cars.

With 4,453 gallons of fuel not being used on the school run, parents also saved over £24,000 on petrol.

Pam Lowry, Principal of Killylea Primary, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to be first in the UK and Northern Ireland. It was a tremendous whole school effort led by our Eco Committee. Pupils and parents both pledged to make every effort to cycle or scoot each day and were true to their word with 100% participation! The Big Pedal is a great way to promote sustainable travel to school, which gives children an enjoyable and sociable way to start the school day and improves pupil and staff fitness.”

Beth Harding, Sustrans Active School Travel Programme Co-ordinator, said:

“We’re delighted so many schools took part in this year’s Big Pedal, which demonstrates the change that can be achieved when people choose to cycle or scoot instead of travelling by car.

“At 1.6 miles, the average primary school journey is a distance that can be walked, scooted or cycled as an easy way of building more physical activity into our busy lives.”

Top-placed schools from Northern Ireland in various Big Pedal categories

  • Killylea Primary, Co Armagh (UK 1st) - 100% daily score [Small Primary Schools, 5-day challenge]
  • St Brigid's Primary, Ballymoney, Co Antrim (UK 3rd) - 88% daily score [Large Primary Schools, 5-day challenge]
  • St Mary’s Primary, Killyleagh, Co Down (UK 1st) - 100% daily score [Small Primary Schools, 1-day challenge]
  • Kesh Primary, Co Fermanagh (UK 3rd) - 78% daily score [Large Primary Schools, 1-day challenge]
  • Edmund Rice College, Belfast [Secondary Schools, 5-day challenge]     

Find out more and a list of the overall Big Pedal winners

Read about the award-winning Active School Travel Programme in Northern Ireland