A Big Pedal for Westleigh High School

Westleigh High School pupils, on their bikes and scooters for The Big Pedal, with teacher and organiser Mark Swannell
Westleigh High School pupils, on their bikes and scooters for The Big Pedal, with teacher and organiser Mark Swannell

CHILDREN from a Leigh school will, along with two from Wigan, have to get on their bikes as part of a national cycling competition.

Pupils at Westleigh High School, St Mark’s CE Primary School in Newtown and Shevington Community Primary School are taking part in The Big Pedal, a campaign to promote cycling run by sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

Pupils have to make their way to and from school by two-wheeled transport every day for three weeks, with both cycles and push scooters being permitted.

Schools across the country then compete against each other to see who has most pupils cycling to school and who is covering the greatest distance without using fossil fuels.

To make the competition more fun, the organisers divide Britain into a series of stages, like the Tour de France, and each stage will give a different minimum distance schools have to cover on that day. At Westleigh High School 27 children cycled in on the first day of the scheme, and the school’s eco-committee hopes to have around 50 pupils and 10 members of staff making daily pedal-powered commutes by the time the three weeks are up.

Teacher Mark Swannell, who set up the eco-committee, said: “We try to take part in as wide a range of environmental-themed activities as we can, and this one allows us to combine interest in green issues with promoting general well-being.

“We want to try and encourage our children to get out of the car and on to their bikes. I was quite pleased with the turnout on the first day, and around a dozen more pupils signed up today.

“We’re logging people in to enter onto the website just how many people are cycling, and I’m taking down some information on distances so we can do some more work with that in school. We had to cover around 126 miles for the first day, and I don’t think we’re going to be too far off.

“I think the next thing will be some safe cycling tips, though. I did tell all the pupils they had to wear helmets but I’m not quite sure the message has got through yet.”