School children throughout Yorkshire are being urged to get on their bikes as part of a campaign to get children more active.
Sustrans, a charity which works to promote sustainable transport, is encouraging schools to take part in The Big Pedal, a national competition being held next month.
Following the huge interest in cycling after the Grand Départ of the Tour de France held in Yorkshire last year and the first ever Tour de Yorkshire, a huge 3 day international cycle race taking place in May, it's hoped schools throughout the county will take part in The Big Pedal.
Last year over 150 schools in Yorkshire contributed to a collective total of just over 90 thousand journeys to school by bike or scooter over the 10 days of the competition. 1,520 schools throughout the UK took part in competition, achieving an impressive 1,104,700 journeys to school on bikes and scooters over 10 the days.
First launched in 2009, The Big Pedal has gained popularity over the past five years and has become the UK's largest inter-school cycling and scooting competition, funded by the Bicycle Association. This year it will take place from 2-20 March.
Hundreds of thousands of pupils are expected to take part in The Big Pedal 2015. On each day of the challenge schools compete to see who can record the greatest number of pupils, staff and parents cycling or scooting to school. Every journey counts, and there are some great prizes to be won, from bike storage to cycle stunt displays.
Anne Jones, Head Teacher at Anston Greenland's J&I School in South Yorkshire said; "We're really excited to be taking part in The Big Pedal again this year. We have taken part for the last two years now and it's something that the children, parents and staff look forward to in the Spring term. By encouraging our children to walk, cycle and scoot to school during the two weeks of the Big Pedal, we see a huge reduction in congestion and pollution around the school gates, helping our children feel healthier and happier. The great thing about this competition is that embeds active travel habits for the rest of the academic year and longer, and at Anston Greenlands we see more families year on year choosing to travel actively to school as a result of The Big Pedal."
Ben Merry, Programme Development Officer at Sustrans said; "The average primary school journey is just 1.8 miles - the perfect distance to walk or cycle.
The Big Pedal is fun, inclusive and it helps schools to encourage whole families to lead more active lives, as well as reducing car traffic and pollution around the school gates."
"Although the competition runs for 10 days, it has a lasting effect on the way that the school community travel to school; last year 76% of schools who took part in The Big Pedal said that pupils continued to cycle and scoot to school following the event."
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the organisation which brought the Tour de France to the county said; "We hope the Tour de France and the new Tour de Yorkshire race taking place in May will encourage children get on their bikes and see just how much fun it is to get cycling and through their teacher find out about the benefits."
Research shows that nearly half of all children want to be able to get to school by bike but only 4% actually do. The Big Pedal engages children in cycling and scooting to school in a fun way with the aim that they will continue cycling and scooting after the competition has finished.
To find out more about taking part in the Big Pedal go to: www.bigpedal.org.uk