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08 May 2017

Rural Armagh Primary School pedals to first place in The Big Pedal

A Co Armagh school has beaten off stiff competition from across the UK to win overall first place in its category in the Big Pedal Challenge.

Pupils from Killylea Primary in rural Armagh pedalled and scooted their way to overall first place, beating schools from across the UK. The school achieved an outstanding daily average of 100% of pupils travelling to school by bike or scooter.

A record 144 schools across Northern Ireland registered to take part in The Big Pedal, which has been running since 2010.

Over 3.2 million calories (the equivalent of over 13,000 donuts) were burned during Sustrans’ Big Pedal - the UK’s biggest challenge of its kind to get more young people cycling and scooting to school, backed by double Olympic champion Joanna Rowsell Shand.

The 10-day challenge saw pupils, parents and staff leave the cars at home with more than one million journeys being made by bike or scooter.

Participants travelled almost 175,000 miles by bike and scooter – that’s seven trips around the world – and saved 43 tonnes, or over 3.2 million balloons-worth, of CO2 being emitted by cars.

With 4,453 gallons of fuel not being used on the school run, parents also saved over £24,000 on petrol.

Pam Lowry, Principal of Killylea Primary, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be first in the UK and Northern Ireland. It was a tremendous whole school effort led by our Eco Committee. Pupils and parents both pledged to make every effort to cycle or scoot each day and were true to their word with 100% participation! The Big Pedal is a great way to promote sustainable travel to school, which gives children an enjoyable and sociable way to start the school day and improves pupil and staff fitness.”

Beth Harding at Sustrans, said: “We’re delighted so many schools took part in this year’s Big Pedal, which demonstrates the change that can be achieved when people choose to cycle or scoot instead of travelling by car.

“At 1.6 miles, the average primary school journey is a distance that can be walked, scooted or cycled as an easy way of building more physical activity into our busy lives.*”

A recent YouGov poll, carried out on behalf of Sustrans, found that fewer than one in 10 (9%) of the UK’s parents say their children get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

According to government guidelines, children and young people aged 5 to 18 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day “to maintain a basic level of health”.

Walking, scooting or cycling to school would help children get their recommended hour of physical activity a day and maintain a healthy weight.

Parents, however, have cited the need for improved infrastructure, such as wider pavements and better crossings, and enhanced road safety among their top priorities before allowing their child to walk, scoot or cycle to school.

The Big Pedal, which took place at the end of March, was powered by national walking and cycling charity Sustrans and funded by the Bicycle Association on behalf of the cycle industry through its Bike Hub scheme.

For more information and a list of the overall winners visit sustrans.org.uk/our-services/who-we-work/teachers/big-pedal

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