We don’t know exactly what 2021 will bring in terms of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. So we’ve taken a more flexible approach to the Sustrans Big Pedal 2021 competition. Children will be able to take part whether they are travelling to school or learning at home due to coronavirus. As well as active journeys to school, 30 minutes of physical activity at home and exercise taken from home with a family member will count in the challenge this year.

We have also designed our school resources to be suitable for situations where pupils are learning remotely.

COVID-19 and active travel

It’s more important than ever to travel activity

The school run is an easy way to build regular exercise into children’s daily routines. The Big Pedal has always been about helping children enjoy the physical and wellbeing benefits of active travel. Our commitment to keeping children active and healthy continues. Taking part in Sustrans Big Pedal 2021 can also help encourage those who are remote learning to be active during the day. Either by completing a physical activity at home or taking another active journey with a family member.

There are many benefits to active travel, especially during a pandemic. Active travel is great for your physical health and mental wellbeing, helps to reduce congestion outside the school gate, and can easily be done in a COVID-19 safe way.

The Department for Education have said encouraging active travel helps “to enable pupils to be physically active while encouraging physical distancing.” (Department of Education Guidance January 2021)

Looking towards a greener, fairer future

During lockdown sales of bikes soared and many people enjoyed walking, cycling, scooting and wheeling on quieter roads. Many people explored their local areas, enjoyed cleaner air and reconnected with nature. Some thought about the greener, fairer future they wanted to see after the pandemic. This period of change and reflection provides a great opportunity to establish new habits. It’s a great time to take part in The Big Pedal, an activity designed to encourage people to start taking more active journeys, to school and elsewhere.

What counts in the challenge?

Active journeys to school

Active journeys to school - walking, cycling, wheeling or scooting - will naturally still count as a journey in the challenge. Remember to ask pupils if their parents travelled actively too as supporter journeys also count.

Physical activities at home (for remote learners)

We will provide daily suggestions for physical activities at home with options that work indoors as well as outdoors (gardens, playing fields). If a child’s parent or guardian wants to join in the fun, their participation can be counted in the challenge too.

Active journeys from home with a family member (for remote learners)

Pupils learning remotely can also participate with a parent or guardian. Active journeys from home, as long as they can be safely supervised by a parent or guardian and are within local coronavirus rules, count as one journey in the challenge. Local journeys such as walking or wheeling around the block, cycling to the local playing field or scooting a route past their friends’ houses would all count. See our Get active page for ideas to link these active journeys to the Big Pedal learning themes. Remember to count the parent and guardian trips for these journeys too. Make sure you follow local coronavirus guidance and maintain social distancing. This means you staying two metres apart from anyone not in your household or support bubble.

How will the Big Pedal work if pupils are learning remotely due to coronavirus?

All Big Pedal activity (active journeys to school, physical activities at home and active journeys from home with a parent or guardian) will need to be logged by teachers onto the Sustrans Big Pedal website daily. We encourage teachers to use their normal method of communication with pupils to find out how many children have made active journeys or taken part in a physical activity each day. This could be a hands-up survey or a digital message from each pupil.

Resources have been designed with remote learning in mind. Whilst we aim to provide digital resources, we will also ensure options are provided for pupils without access to a computer.