York youngsters have got on their bikes and stormed to the front of the pack, like a group of Yorkshire Bradley Wigginses.
The city’s pupils have made a flying start to the Big Pedal competition, which is being run up and down the country. The format is simple: the more pupils who cycle, the quicker their school races round a virtual course – and it’s all weighted so schools of any size have an equal chance to win.
Children, parents and teachers from 20 schools in York are leaving their cars at home and jumping on their bikes and scooters to race for the top slot. Between them they have already made 15,317 (one-way) journeys in the first half of the competition, which began on February 28 and finishes on March 20.
Leading the way in York and Yorkshire are Skelton Primary School, fifth in the small primary category; St Oswald’s Primary School, 17th in the large primary category; and York High third in the secondary school category.
So York, as this article goes to press, has ten schools in the top 100 within the first half of the competition.
“The schools across York are already preparing their bikes and scooters for the competition by having Dr Bike days and learning how to cycle and scoot safely,” sai Naomi Wells Smith, Sustrans Bike It Officer in York.
“With one in five cars on the road during the morning peak being on the school run, encouraging our children to walk, cycle and scoot reduces congestion and pollution around the school gates.
“We’ve got some amazing prizes nationally alongside some fantastic ones specifically for York schools. Cycle Street based in Layerthorpe have a brand new bike up for grabs and Beningbrough Hall and Gardens are offering a Family Pass to one lucky cycling parent.”
The Big Pedal race is funded by the Bike Hub and powered by sustainable transport charity Sustrans. Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans chief executive, said: “The average primary school journey is just 1.5 miles – the perfect distance to walk or cycle.
“Evidence shows how children that cycle to school regularly are more active and better learners – it’s time for us all to get on our bikes.”
Last year more than 950 schools took part, from Cornwall to the Highlands, Belfast to East Anglia. The combined efforts of children all over the country totalled a massive 1,140,075 miles, saving 59,021 gallons of fuel and £368,484.
Nearly half of all children want to be able to get to school by bike but only four per cent actually do. The Big Pedal shows children and parents just how easy it is to get around on two wheels. To get your school involved in the Sustrans Bike It Project go to the Sustrans website.