Four in 10 pupils believe increasing participation in active travel is the best way to reduce levels of air pollution near their school.
That’s according to the findings of a survey, published to mark the start of the UK’s largest cycling, walking, wheeling and scooting competition for primary and secondary schools.
Organised by Sustrans, the Big Pedal has been running for 11 years and is this year fronted by Dame Sarah Storey, British paralympian and 38-time world champion in cycling and swimming.
The Big Pedal 2021 takes place between 19-30 April. Under the theme of ‘Amazing Journeys’, it encourages pupils to see their local area from a different perspective and learn about the benefits of active travel.
A survey published to mark the start of the event shows 49% of pupils are worried about air pollution near their school – an increase of 10% since a similar survey ran in 2018.
The survey sampled the attitudes of 1,305 pupils, aged six to 15 years old, towards air pollution and the climate crisis.
In terms of solutions, 40% of respondents believe that getting more pupils walking, cycling or scooting is the best way to bring down levels of air pollution near their school.
Meanwhile, 38% thought that walking and cycling more for local journeys was the most important thing adults should be doing to tackle climate change overall – the highest-rated answer.
Xavier Brice, CEO of Sustrans, said: “The results of this survey highlight the responsibility we have to create a healthier, greener and fairer society for the generation coming after us.
“There are a large number of cars on the road during the morning peak doing the school run.
“But swapping everyday journeys such as how we travel to and from school from private cars to active modes of travel can help cut dangerous levels of air pollution in our towns and cities which have a detrimental impact on the environment.”
Dame Sarah Storey, active travel commissioner for the Sheffield City Region, said: “It is vital we use every opportunity we have to keep cars away from school gates and use active travel for as many of our short journeys as possible.”