Published: 3rd FEBRUARY 2021

Families invited to take part in UK’s biggest active travel school challenge

Big Pedal is back for 2021. Our long-running competition to get more people travelling actively to school has been changed so that children learning at home can take part.

Dame Sarah Storey is backing this year's challenge. She's pictured here alongside her husband Barney Storey, MBE and their daughter.

Big Pedal is back 

Families are being invited to take part in the Big Pedal 2021.

It's the UK’s largest cycling, walking, wheeling and scooting competition for primary and secondary schools.

The competition has now been running for 11 years.

And this year it's fronted by Dame Sarah Storey, British Paralympian and 38-time world champion in cycling and swimming.

Big Pedal 2021 will run from 19 to 30 April 2021.

It will see young people across the UK compete with one another to make the most journeys by cycling, walking, scooting or using a wheelchair.

Adapting to Covid-19

The theme of this year’s competition is ‘Amazing Journeys’.

And we're encouraging pupils to see their local areas from a different perspective and learn about the benefits of active travel.

The coronavirus pandemic and national and local lockdowns have meant that many of us are spending more time at home.

So we've adapted Sustrans Big Pedal 2021 to become more flexible to the world around us at the moment.

Children will be able to take part in the competition and supporting activities whether they are travelling to school or learning at home.

Big Pedal 2021

The theme of this year’s competition is ‘Amazing Journeys’. We want pupils to see their local areas from a different perspective.

The importance of staying active during lockdown 

Regular physical activity is vital to promote good physical and mental health.

And guidance from the UK’s Chief Medical Officers recommending children partake in 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

New data from Sport England suggests there has been a decline in the physical activity levels of children due to the pandemic.

Almost a third of children in England are engaging in less than 30 minutes of daily physical activity in the 2019 – 2020 academic year.

But our Big Pedal challenge is an easy way for families to stay active whether schools are open or not.

Keeping active to help protect the NHS

Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner for the Sheffield City Region said:

“I am delighted to be involved with the Big Pedal in 2021, and delighted it will be pandemic-proof this year too!

“Health has been in the spotlight over the past year, like never before, and getting out for a cycle ride has been one of the few activities that have been unaffected by the various restrictions.

“Staying active is one of the ways we can all play our part in protecting the NHS throughout our lives.

"Active people are less likely to fall into ill-health and suffer from the many diseases caused by not getting enough exercise.

“I really hope to see as many people as possible involved this year.

"It will be a fantastic way to start the Spring and to give ourselves a challenge in what has already been a challenging start to the year."

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how important being active is. Big Pedal is a great way to keep the whole family moving during lockdown.

We need to keep making it easier for families to travel actively

Our CEO, Xavier Brice said:

“We’re excited that the Big Pedal is returning for 2021, after what has been a truly difficult year for all.

"And the need to make time to incorporate physical activity into our daily routines seems important now more than ever.

“We don’t know exactly what the rest of 2021 will bring in terms of coronavirus restrictions.

"But we’re delighted pupils will be able to take part, regardless of where they are learning.

“Active travel has proven its worth over the past year, with more people looking for socially distanced ways to move around and remain active in lockdown.

"As we look towards life after Covid-19 and schools returning as normal, we hope to see local authorities use the next stage of funding announced in November for cycling and walking.

"We need to continue to make it easier for families to travel actively to school.

“More people travelling actively for essential everyday journeys such as the school run means fewer cars on the road.

"And this helps to ease congestion and reduce air pollution around school gates”.

Join in the Big Pedal fun

Another fun and easy way to get involved in this year’s Big Pedal is to enter our family competition.

Share pictures or short videos of you and your children getting active between 19-30 April using #BigPedalWin on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Make sure you're following @Sustrans on your favourite social media platform for the latest news about this competition.


Whether you're doing the usual school run or just need some inspiration for keeping the family active in lockdown, we've got you covered.

Download our free family guide and start scooting, walking and cycling to school like a pro.


Find out more about this year's Big Pedal challenge.

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