Big Pedal tackles school-run congestion as kids cycle 83,000 miles

Pupils from St Ciaran's Primary School, Co Antrim
2 April 2015

Children from Northern Ireland have been tackling congestion – avoiding more than 50,000 car journeys in just three weeks – by cycling and scooting nearly 83,000 miles to and from school.

The journeys were made as part of The Big Pedal – the UK’s biggest inter-school cycling and scooting competition run by Sustrans and backed by Olympic champion Sharron Davies MBE. 
This year 1,720 schools across the UK with more than half a million pupils registered to take part in the competition and together pupils, parents and teachers cycled and scooted nearly one and a half million journeys (1,412, 299) to school and back. 
In Northern Ireland, 67 schools registered to take part in the competition – double last year’s number – and together made over 33,000 bike and scooter journeys to school.

I'm very proud of this achievement for the school and local community.

- Helen Magee,
Acting Principal St Ciaran's PS
St Ciaran’s Primary School in Cushendun, Co Antrim was the top performing school in Northern Ireland and was in the Top 20 of schools across the whole of the UK (out of 1,720 schools). The primary school achieved a daily average of 76% of pupils travelling to school by bike or scooter over the 10-day challenge.
St Ciaran’s Acting Principal, Mrs Helen Magee, said: “All the pupils, staff and families at St Ciaran's are very excited at winning such a prestigious competition and making the Top 20 in the UK. I'm very proud of this achievement for the school and local community. We couldn't have done it without all the parents' support.”
The other top performing schools in Northern Ireland were St Mary’s Christian Brothers Grammar in west Belfast; St Mary’s Primary School, Killyleagh and Limavady Grammar School.
The Big Pedal shows how choosing two wheels instead of four for the school run can help families save cash while getting fit. Statistics released by Sustrans to mark the end of the event also revealed that in Northern Ireland the competition:
  • Saved more than £10,500 in fuel costs 
  • Prevented approximately 23 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted
  • Saved over 2,000 gallons of fuel from being used for the school run 
Beth Harding, Active Travel Coordinator for Sustrans Northern Ireland said:
“The school-run is a major cause of congestion with 60% of primary school children driven to school in Northern Ireland. The Big Pedal results are timely coming in the same week that Belfast tops a UK poll for most congested city and prove that there are alternatives for getting to school.
“The popularity of the competition shows that when families live near to school it is possible to change the way they get there. Cycling and scooting to school doesn’t just reduce congestion; children that regularly cycle to school are fitter, more alert and better learners too.”
The Big Pedal is funded by the Bicycle Association on behalf of the cycle industry through its Bike Hub scheme.
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