Hold onto your handlebars: thousands of pupils are wheeling their way to school

Over 900,000 children have signed up to the Big Walk and Wheel

PUPILS across Cardiff are walking, wheeling, scooting or cycling to school as they take part in the UK’s biggest inter-school active travel challenge.

The Big Walk and Wheel takes place from March 20 to 31 and will see schools across the UK competing to see who can get the highest percentage of their pupils to take part.

The annual event, organised by charity Sustrans, is intended to inspire pupils to make active journeys to school, improve air quality in their neighbourhood and discover how these changes benefit their world.

Big Walk and Wheel encourages active travel across the UK (Credit: Sustrans)

“Hundreds of thousands of pupils have risen to the challenge and embraced active travel each year,” said Hayley Keohane, Sustrans Cymru curriculum and communications co-ordinator.

“This is such a fun event for schools to take part in.”

Sustrans aims to make walking, wheeling and cycling easier, and is running the competition with sponsor Schwalbe Tyres UK Limited.

The event is open to primary and secondary schools. This year, 227 schools across Wales have registered, including 33 in Cardiff. Teachers will log how many children are walking, wheeling, scooting or biking to school, with a daily leader board and prizes to be won every day.

Schools have been celebrating in different ways. A walking bus was organised at Ysgol Bae Baglan, Port Talbot and others are holding Dr Bike sessions in which a Sustrans team member visits to fix bikes or scooters in need of repair.

Since July 2022, Radnor Primary School in Canton has run a bike bus on the last Friday of every month. It will run a special bike bus on Friday, March 31 as part of the Big Walk and Wheel, and contribute to the launch of Sustrans toolkit, to help other schools start a bike bus of their own.

To the soundtrack of Drum and Bass, the bike bus starts at Victoria Park at 8.20am and makes its 15-minute journey to school led by Hamish Belding, a member of the Sustrans’ team.

“We are using some of what we’ve learnt whilst working with Radnor, to try and share and encourage schools across the UK to start bike buses. We’re trying to get at least ten schools across the UK to start a bike bus,” said Mr Belding.

“The launch of the toolkit on Friday will be something we can share with the schools, with tips on how they can participate.”

“Radnor school are setting a great example for active travel in schools,” he added.

The bike bus earned the school the Sustrans Cymru Gold Active Travel School Award for its dedication to active travel. It was the second school in Wales to receive such a title.

In 2022, 1,519 schools took part in the Big Walk and Wheel, with more than two million active journeys logged during the process. This saved 1,335 tonnes of CO2, the weight of about 219 elephants, that would have been used if those journeys had been made by car.

“There’s a serious element too and not only does the event help reduce pollution around the school gates but in 2019 it helped parents to save an estimated £1.6million in petrol costs during the fortnight,” added Ms Keohane.

More than 1,500 schools took part last year (Credit: Sustrans and G Thomas)

Across the UK 2,747 have registered this year, with over 909,151 pupils taking part in the competition, which has been running since 2010.

In a YouGov survey in 2021 nearly half (49%) of UK school pupils said they were worried about air pollution near their school, while 57% of pupils described the environment around their school as having too many cars.

According to Sustrans, teachers also find that pupils who walk, wheel, scoot or cycle arrive at school more relaxed, alert and ready to start the day than those who travel by car.

  • For more information on how to take part click here or follow along on Twitter by using #BigWalkAndWheel