Children across the UK are jumping on their bikes and scooters over the next two weeks in an attempt to reduce 70 million balloons worth of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.
Parents and teachers will leave their cars at home for their normal trips to and from school, preventing over 2 million car journeys from taking place. Instead they will be cycling and scooting over 3 million miles during the Big Pedal, a two week cycling and scooting competition run by charity Sustrans.
The competition could save over three tonnes of Nitrogen Oxides and over 1,000 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted into the environment as part of the school run.
Nitrogen Oxides can cause breathing difficulties in vulnerable people, such as asthmatics and older adults.
As well as reducing pollution which affects us all the Big Pedal can also help reduce individuals’ exposure to pollutants. Reports have shown that children who travel actively could reduce their exposure to Nitrogen Oxides by up to 60% as concentrations are higher inside the vehicle than outside.
Jason Torrance, Policy Director at Sustrans, said: “Over 40,000 people die each year in the UK directly because of air pollution and it is simply unacceptable.
“The Big Pedal demonstrates the difference that can be made if people are encouraged to leave their cars at home. Not only will they get fitter and healthier by cycling and scooting, dangerous emissions are reduced, which benefits everyone.
“To make this happen on a large scale the government must transform our towns and cities into places where cycling and walking is the natural choice for journeys to school and work. Only by doing this can we hope to prevent the thousands of deaths caused by air pollution and at the same time make the nation healthier.”
As well as providing environmental and health benefits, the Big Pedal also enables parents and teachers to save money, last year collectively over £475,000 was saved in fuel costs by people cycling and scooting, instead of driving during the competition.
Over 1500 schools, containing over half a million children, are taking part in the Big Pedal which is running between 18th and 29th April. For more information on the event or for tips on cycling and scooting to school, visit www.sustrans.org.uk/bigpedal.