• Journeys made on foot, by bike and scooter during Sustrans Big Pedal event could have created 8,500 kg of CO2 and 17 kg of NOx if pupil’s journeys to school had been made in cars.
  • The walking and cycling charity Sustrans’ Big Pedal event saw over 10,000 children take part in Torbay between 19-30 April.

Sustrans Big Pedal, the UK’s largest walking, wheeling, cycling and scooting to school challenge saw school communities across Torbay complete over 10,000 active journeys to school and physical activities between 19-30 April.

During the competition, Torbay school children were physically active – walking, cycling, wheeling and scooting to school, and completing physical activities- for a total of over 180,000 minutes.

This follows data released by Sport England earlier this year that suggests there was 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.[1]

If the children taking active journeys during Sustrans Big Pedal had travelled to school by car instead, this could have created over 8 tonnes of CO2 and 17 kg of NOx. That’s enough to fill a whole hot air balloon with harmful CO2 emissions.

This follows a YouGov survey commissioned by Sustrans and published in April which showed:

  • Just under half (49%) of UK children worry about air pollution near their school.
  • 40% of UK children believe the best way to bring down levels of air pollution near their schools is for more people to walk, cycle or scoot to school.

Speaking about the results of the Big Pedal competition, James Cleeton, Director for south of England at Sustrans said, “It’s great to see how many journeys were made walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling in Torbay during Big Pedal.

“This year, perhaps more than ever, it has been brilliant to see so many people enjoying their active journeys to school. Being able to make the Big Pedal happen again despite the pandemic has been truly great.

“The results of our recent YouGov survey show just how concerned children are about air pollution in their local area. As adults we should be doing more to make it easier for them, and us, to travel actively for everyday journeys like the school run.

“Sustrans is calling for national and local governments to prioritise high quality walking and cycling routes and to accelerate the roll out of school streets.”

Councillor Mike Morey, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Environment and Culture for Torbay Council, said; “What a fantastic effort made by young people and their families in Torbay to make such a positive change to their school journeys.

As a council we are working to ensure active travel is better supported by the infrastructure in Torbay over the long-term and want more and more people to ditch the car for healthier and more environmentally friendly alternatives.

We are committed to becoming a Carbon Neutral Council and want to work with Torbay residents to create a carbon neutral community.”

For more information and a list of the overall winners visit:


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