The Big Pedal is funded by Bike Hub, the industry levy. It's a virtual 'race' lasting three weeks.
The event follows a stage-race format; with time trials, sprint stages and hill climb stages. The more children, parents and teachers that cycle in to school on each day, the quicker time the school is awarded for each stage. The school with the lowest time overall will be declared winner.
First prize for the national winners is a display from the M.A.D cycle stunt team. National runners up win a Minipod bike and scooter storage system worth over £1,000 for their school.
In last year’s race, 408 schools from across the UK competed to be the first to complete a gruelling, 5,224 mile bike challenge. A total of 288,201 journeys were made by bike, and approximately 461,121 miles were pedalled.
Sustrans School Travel Director, Paul Osborne, said: “We’re delighted with how many schools have signed up to take part. The Big Pedal is a great way for whole school communities to join together as they take on schools from across the country.
“It is vital that we give young people the opportunity to travel in ways which are healthy, sustainable and fun. Cycling to school has so many benefits for pupils such as improved health, confidence and concentration as well as the obvious benefits for the environment they will grow up in.”
The race is open to any school within the UK and it is free to take part. Schools can sign up to take part in the entire three week challenge, or register for a special one-day stage that will take place in the last week of the race – which is also Bike to School Week (21 – 25 March). Registration is open until March 4th.
Bicycle Association deputy president Philip Darnton, said: “The Big Pedal, delivered by Sustrans and funded by the cycle industry, celebrates the fun that cycling brings children. Learning to ride a bike is a key milestone in children’s lives, and the thrill of getting about independently is an important part of growing up. Bikeability, backed up with other wider skills programmes, gives them the confidence to ride safely, and the Big Pedal shows that children everywhere can cycle safely to school.
“Bike Hub is very committed to the future of cycling. Children are that future. Unless they learn to ride safely and without fear on their bikes at home and at school, we will create a new generation lost to cycling."
Bike shops are being encouraged to join in the race, by supporting local participating schools.
To promote awareness of the event, bike shops (and bicycle user groups and cycle campaign organisations) can download an A4 poster in PDF format to print out and display. This is free to download.