Families in Bedford take part in UK’s biggest cycling, walking and scooting school challenge

Yo Higton with pupils at Castle Newham School in Bedford

Active Schools Officer, Yo Higton, celebrates with pupils from Castle Newham School in Bedford.

17 April 2019

Families in Bedford have been taking part in the Big Pedal 2019 – the UK’s largest annual cycling, walking and scooting challenge for schools.

A total of 19 schools in Bedford signed up for this year’s competition – more than double the nine that took part in 2018. Across the country, 2,299 schools took part with 746,218 pupils travelling actively to school.  

This year The Big Pedal competition ran from Monday 25 March to Friday 5 April and encouraged young people from across the UK to travel by bike, foot or scooter for their journey to and from school. During the 10 days, participating primary and secondary schools competed with one another to make the most journeys by bike, foot or scooter.

Last year the nine Bedford schools achieved a total of 9,028 journeys by scooter or bike but this year’s results far exceeded that with an impressive 12,130 journeys taking place by bike or scooter.  In contrast to 2018, walking was also included in the overall scores, resulting in Bedford schools travelling a total of 64,402 journeys over the ten days. This included 25,358 supporter journeys made by parents, teachers or carers.

One Bedford school who took part in this year’s contest was Castle Newham, achieving a national standard of 99 (they were 337 last year) and they had 79% of the school taking part.

Year 3 Teacher and Sustrans School Champion Anna Humphries, said: 

"The number of children scooting and biking to school increased during the two-week slot and more parents also made the effort. We had a lot of staff who cycled in and it encouraged them to think about travelling this way more often instead of bringing the car in. The number of children who live locally means that they will encourage their family to make the effort to increase their daily exercise! We also had Year 5 and 6 taking part on the North site.”

The theme of this year’s Big Pedal was ‘Travelling around the body’, with pupils tracking their progress on a wall chart, learning about the human body and how active travel benefits their health as they go.

Matt Easter, Sustrans England Director Midlands and East, said: 

"The Big Pedal may only run for two weeks but can leave a lasting effect on the way children travel to school. It can show parents what’s possible and how easy it can be to leave the car at home for a few extra journeys a week."

The top three schools in Bedford were Cauldwell School with 84% of the school taking part, Shortstown Primary with 81% and Castle Newnham with 79%. Kempston Challenger came 4th in the national table for secondary schools with 73% of years seven and eight taking part in the challenge.