Big pedal schools burn 227,000 doughnuts-worth of calories

Double Olympic champion Joanna Rowsell Shand with school pupils (CREDIT: Livia Lazar).

The Big Pedal 2017 in numbers
4 May 2017

Nearly 55 million calories (the equivalent of almost 227,000 doughnuts) were burned during our Big Pedal.

The Big Pedal is the UK’s biggest challenge of its kind to get more young people cycling and scootering to school, backed by double Olympic champion Joanna Rowsell Shand.

The 10-day challenge saw pupils, parents and staff leave the car at home with more than one million journeys being made by bike or scooter.

More than half a million pupils from nearly 1,700 UK schools registered to take part in the event, which has been running since 2010.

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.

- Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans

Participants travelled almost three million miles by bike and scooter – that’s nearly 119 trips around the world – and saved almost 728 tonnes, or nearly 55 million balloons-worth, of CO2 being emitted by cars.

With more than 75,000 gallons of fuel not being used on the school run, parents also saved over £400,000 on petrol.

Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans, 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 [1].

“The numbers speak for themselves – travelling in this way makes a real difference to our children’s health, our environment and our pockets.” 

A recent YouGov poll, carried out on behalf of Sustrans, found that one in 10 (9%) of the UK’s parents say their children get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

According to government guidelines, children and young people aged 5 to 18 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day “to maintain a basic level of health”.

Walking, scooting or cycling to school would help children get their recommended hour of physical activity a day and maintain a healthy weight.

Parents, however, cited the need for improved infrastructure, such as wider pavements and better crossings, and enhanced road safety among their top priorities before allowing their child to walk, scoot or cycle to school. 

We’re calling on schools and local authorities in England to use the money from a levy on soft drinks to help more children walk, scoot and cycle the school journey [2].

The charity would like to see governments elsewhere in the UK commit additional funding from the soft drinks levy to support active travel.

The Big Pedal, which took place at the end of March, was powered by us and funded by the Bicycle Association on behalf of the cycle industry through its Bike Hub scheme. 

A list of the overall winners visit and more information can be found on our Big Pedal page.

For more information, images and interviews please contact:
Anna Galandzij, Senior Press Officer at Sustrans, [email protected],
07557 915648

Amy Jones, Press and Media Officer at Sustrans, [email protected],
07768 035318

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 9122 adults, of which 1370 were parents of children aged 5 to 16. Fieldwork was undertaken between 27 February - 7 March 2017.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[1] National Travel Survey 2014
[2] In England, the Government has committed £160 million to doubling the ‘School Sport Premium’ each year from the 2017-18 academic year and £415 million to a ‘healthy pupils capital programme’ from the 2018-19 academic year with funds from the sugar tax to support activities, such as  PE, after school and healthy eating, among others.