All power to young pedallers

A Scottish primary has taken top prize in a cycle-to-school contest. Elizabeth Buie reports

Elizabeth Buie

Pedal power has won the day at Leswalt Primary in Dumfries and Galloway. The school has beaten 1,000 others to take top prize in The Big Pedal, a UK-wide competition organised by the cycling organisation Sustrans to encourage children to cycle to school.

"Every day, pupils, parents, staff, older siblings, former pupils, future pupils and supporters of the school cycled to school, whatever the distance, and we recorded each journey," says head Sheila Baillie.

The results were entered into The Big Pedal database daily, then collated and published online the next day, allowing everyone to track their own and their rivals' progress.

The three-week-long event, held last month, was organised a bit like the Tour de France, with a different stage every day. The more people who cycled to school each day, the quicker the time awarded to the school. Leswalt was overall winner for three of the 15 stages and won two new BMX bicycles from Halfords for one of the "special stages".

Pupils were issued with a fluorescent bib and urged to wear a helmet. Community policeman PC Kevin Wyllie monitored the village with a speed gun to monitor traffic at the start and end of the school day. He also gave road safety talks and carried out a traffic survey with P1-4. And when the whole school went on a trip to Aldouran wetlands and wood, everyone cycled.

On the last day, pupils were joined by 69 supporters - twice the number of pupils on the roll. The experience has fed into the school's health and well-being curriculum and outdoor learning - and the school has won new covered cycle-storage facilities.

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Elizabeth Buie

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