Children walking, cycling and scooting to school

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

Emma Cooke
Authored by Emma Cooke
Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2021 - 11:11

Families in Plymouth are being invited to take up the Big Pedal 2021 – the UK’s largest cycling, walking, wheeling and scooting competition for primary and secondary schools.

The competition, which has now been running for 11 years, is fronted by Dame Sarah Storey, British Paralympian and 38-time world champion in cycling and swimming.

Organised by the walking and cycling charity Sustrans, Big Pedal 2021 will run from 19 to 30 April 2021 and will see young people across the UK compete with one another to make the most journeys by cycling, walking, scooting or using a wheelchair.

The theme of this year’s competition, ‘Amazing Journeys’ will encourage pupils to see their local areas from a different perspective and learn about the benefits of active travel.  

With the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns resulting in many spending more time at home, Sustrans Big Pedal 2021 is adapting to become more flexible, and children will be able to take part in the competition and supporting activities whether they are travelling to school or learning at home.

New data from Sport England suggests there has been a decline in the physical activity levels of children due to the pandemic, with almost a third of children in England engaging in less than 30 minutes of daily physical activity in the 2019 – 2020 academic year.

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 has 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, as 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."

James Cleeton, regional director at Sustrans, said: “We’re excited that the Big Pedal is returning for 2021, after what has been a difficult year for us all, and the need to make time to incorporate physical activity into our daily routines seems more important now than ever.

“More people travelling actively for essential every day journeys such as the school run means fewer cars on the road, helping to ease congestion and reduce air pollution around school gates.

“In 2019, Plymouth school children travelled 210,275 miles travelling actively during the 10-day Big Pedal challenge. We hope Plymouth schools can do even better this year. So far 22 have signed up to the challenge and we’d encourage even more to get involved.’

Councillor Coker, Plymouth City Council Cabinet Member for Strategic Transport and Infrastructure added “I’m really pleased that the Big Pedal is running again this year. It’s a great way to encourage more active journeys to and from school both during the competition and afterwards. Plymouth schools have always done brilliantly during the challenge and I’m sure this year will be no different.

In 2019 42,055 active journeys were made by pupils over the 10 days of the challenge, with a further 26,277 active journeys by the wider school community. I hope we can do even better this year and encourage all schools to sign up.”

 Another fun and easy way to get involved in this year’s Big Pedal is to enter the family competition. Share pictures or a short video of you and your children getting active between 19-30 April using #BigPedalWin on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Whether your child is a seasoned pro at cycling, walking, scooting or using a wheelchair to get to school, or just getting started, download our family guide to a hassle free school run:

Ask your child’s school to sign up to Sustrans Big Pedal 2021. 

For more information visit: