A small, rural County Armagh school has come second in the whole of the UK in a hotly-contested ‘cycle to school’ competition.
Killylea Primary came first in Northern Ireland, and second overall, in this year’s Big Pedal – the biggest annual inter-school cycling and scooting competition run by environmental charity Sustrans.
Killylea pupils pedalled and scooted their hearts out to win the five-day challenge. They also achieved an incredible 98% of pupils cycling and scooting to school during the competition.
A record number of schools from across Northern Ireland took part in the competition with four schools wheeling their way into the Top 20 across the UK.
Pupils, staff and teachers at 114 schools in Northern Ireland cycled more than 127,000 miles, equivalent to an incredible five trips around the world. This saved almost 80,000 car journeys and over two and a half million balloons of C02 emissions.
Killylea Primary Principal, Pam Lowry, said: “Pupils, parents and staff were fully involved over the whole fortnight and were very excited each morning to log on to the Sustrans website to see our school position increase.
“The challenge is a great way to encourage pupils to travel sustainably and if their smiling faces each morning were anything to go by it was evident that they enjoyed the experience.
“We hope now that our pupils and parents will continue to walk, cycle and scoot to school.”
The school has been working with Sustrans as part of the Active School Travel Programme, funded jointly by the Public Health Agency and former Department for Regional Development.
It has also worked in the past with Sustrans’ Rural Safe Routes to School programme, as a result of which a bike shed was built and infrastructure was improved around the school.
Pedalling and scooting on Killylea’s heels were St Kieran’s Primary School in Poleglass in west Belfast, which came in second place (sixth in the UK) with 96% of pupils cycling and scooting to school; and St Ciaran’s Primary in Cushendun, Co Antrim, came third (ninth in the UK) with 94% of pupils cycling and scooting to school. This is the second year St Ciaran’s has been in the UK Top 20.
Beth Harding, Sustrans Active Travel Coordinator, said: “We’re really delighted that more than 100 schools took part from Northern Ireland this year. Hopefully we’ll see children continuing in the Big Pedal spirit by cycling and scooting to school throughout the rest of this school term!”
Across the UK the Big Pedal saw pupils, staff and families cycle or scoot in total an incredible 3 million miles, saving £384,000 in fuel not used for the school run.
— Sustrans NI (@SustransNI) 19 May 2016