Sustrans Big Pedal helps London families ditch the car to bike, scoot or walk over half a million school runs

Photo shows broadcaster Angellica Bell with pupils from St Richard Reynolds School at the start of Big Pedal

It was great to have the support of TV and radio broadcaster, Angellica Bell, at the launch of this year's Big Pedal with pupils from St Richard Reynolds School in Richmond.

Angellica Bell with pupils from Wormholt Primary School in west London

Angellica Bell was at Wormholt Primary School in west London for this year's Big Pedal as thousands of children walked, cycled or scooted to school.

Children enjoying the freedom of playing in the traffic-free street outside their school

We loved seeing children and parents at St Richard Reynolds school, Richmond, enjoying the freedom to play, cycle, walk and scoot on their traffic-free school street for the Big Pedal.

29 May 2019

It’s been a fantastic Big Pedal year with a record-breaking number of schools taking part in our annual challenge. It was great to see so many families ditching the car and getting to schools under their own steam.

Over half a million school runs cycled, scooted or walked

Our Big Pedal, the UK’s largest cycling, scooting and walking competition, has resulted in school children across London making over half a million school runs by bike, scooter or on foot. In a record-breaking year, 239 London schools took part in the 10-day challenge.

School Streets for cleaner air

As part of the Big Pedal, we also worked with seven London schools, their local authorities and the local communities to trial School Streets where they closed their streets to motor vehicles during pick up and drop off times to create a safer, less polluted car-free environment for families to cycle, walk and scoot.

Making change happen

Big Pedal demonstrates that giving people incentives to change habits and opt to walk, cycle or scoot their everyday journeys helps to create healthier, happier communities, as people ditch their cars for an active and more sociable school run.

Sustrans’ Head of Built Environment in London, Giulio Ferrini said: "Our work with schools across London shows that we can make change happen. It is shocking that every school in London is in a location which is breaching World Health Organisation limits. 

 Our work with schools across London shows that we can make change happen. It is shocking that every school in London is in a location which is breaching World Health Organisation limits.

-  Giulio Ferrini, Sustrans’ Head of Built Environment in London
"Urgent action is needed to bring down current pollution levels. We want national government to support local authorities to make it safer and easier for parents and children to walk, scoot and cycle to school. To do that, the roads outside schools need to feel safe. We are looking forward to working with more Boroughs to make streets outside school gates car fee, by delivering community-led solutions that work for everyone.

"It is great to see more and more people getting involved in our Big Pedal challenge. Changing the way young people travel is fundamental to their health and wellbeing. Schools and councils need to take bold decisions to make this happen.

"We are passionate about playing a major role in helping London meet the Mayor’s target of 80% of all trips in the capital to be made on foot, by cycle or by public transport by 2041. We are doing this by continuing our work in schools and the communities around our great city to make people feel they can leave the car at home and travel more actively."

Claudine Richardson, Bike It Champion at St Richard Reynolds Catholic College in Richmond said: "We decided to take part in the Big Pedal this year as a survey of our students revealed that air pollution and congestion outside the school gate was a big concern.

"During the competition, we saw a huge surge in the number of pupils walking, scooting or cycling to school and this has continued even after the challenge. It is fantastic to see the pupils come in so energised in the morning after a brisk walk or cycle."

Keeping healthy and fit

For London, all the pupil journeys to school made by bike, scooter or on foot during the 10-day challenge is estimated to have burnt over 47.6 million calories in total - the equivalent of 196,906 doughnuts.

According to London’s Childhood Obesity Taskforce, nearly 40 per cent of all London’s children are overweight or obese. Walking, scooting or cycling to school could play a key role in helping children get their recommended hour of physical activity a day and enable them to maintain a healthy weight.

Greater London Authority research has shown that if every Londoner walked or cycled for 20 minutes a day, it would save the NHS £1.7bn in treatment costs over the next 25 years. This includes 85,000 fewer people being treated for hip fractures, 19,200 fewer people suffering from dementia, and an estimated 18,800 fewer Londoners suffering from depression. It is the ambition of the Mayor that Londoners walk or cycle for at least 20 minutes every day – currently, only 34 per cent of Londoners manage to do this on any given day.

Organised by Sustrans, and sponsored by Micro Scooters and Tonik Energy, the Big Pedal, which took place from 25 March to 5 April, is the largest inter-school cycling, walking and scooting competition of its kind in the UK.

If you would like the street outside your school closed to motor traffic during pick-up and drop-off times, get in touch and we can help.

See the results of the Big Pedal competition

Find out about our work in London

Read our latest annual review