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Schools compete in Big Walk and Wheel active travel challenge

05 March 2024


The Big Walk and Wheel active travel challenge, where schools compete to make the most journeys by walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling, takes place from 11 to 22 March. The challenge, organised by walking and cycling charity Sustrans, is open to all primary and secondary schools in the UK, including SEN/ASN/ALN schools.

The challenge, in partnership with headline sponsors Schwalbe Tyres UK, focuses on improving air quality around schools, saving money otherwise spent on a car commute, and discovering how these changes have wider benefits.

Since data collection for the challenge began in 2011, 23.9 million miles have been travelled by pupils taking over 15.9 million active travel journeys to school, said Sustrans.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Big Walk and Wheel. Just under 2.7 million active journeys to 1,862 participating schools took place during the 2023 challenge, saving an estimated 1,890 tonnes of CO2 emissions if the journeys logged had otherwise been made by car, estimates Sustrans. 

Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans, said: “I am proud that together with thousands of partnering schools, and millions of parents and children across the UK we are able to celebrate 15 years of the Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel. Together we have saved 12,700 tonnes of CO2 from the nearly 32 million costly cars journeys that would have happened without this challenge, and added smiles to the school run for families across the UK.

“People want to have a choice in how they travel, and 15 years of the Big Walk and Wheel shows that when people are given the opportunity to travel actively – they will take it. Sustrans will continue to work in partnership with others to ensure that every generation of children can choose to have fun walking, wheeling and cycling to school.”

National Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman said: “The Sustrans Walk and Wheel challenge gives kids and their parents a reason to try travelling differently, to get to school under their own steam and in doing so, they get a taste of what a healthier and greener future can be like. 

“In fact, it's proved so popular for thousands of communities, it continues to go from strength to strength. We want to make it more than an annual event, we want this to become a normal part of every school day for millions, and by the looks of it, so do the kids."

Tim Ward – Marketing Manager of Schwalbe UK said: “In our third year supporting the Sustrans Big Walk & Wheel, we are very pleased to be associated with this amazing initiative in its 15th anniversary year. As long-term advocates of using a bicycle as transport, we at Schwalbe know only too well how important the simple thrill travelling by bike is for children. Giving them the opportunity to experience the benefits of cycling by simply riding to school, helps to develop an appreciation of sustainable transport that is crucial for the future.”

Sustrans will be taking part in the School Street North conference in Bradford on 15 March.

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