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North East schools help tackle air pollution

ByDave Stopher

Jun 18, 2018

Over half the children at the St John’s Church of England Academy in Darlington got on their bikes to school. 

Children who cycled, scooted and walked to school during Sustrans’ Big Pedal helped to prevent release of 39.3 kg of nitrogen oxide (NOx) in the North East, according to new figures released by the charity Sustrans.

In the North East 40 schools took part in the UK’s largest cycling and scooting competition for schools, part of over half a million children who pedalled or walked to school from 23 April – 4 May. Nationwide the Big Pedal helped to prevent 1179 kilograms of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) from being released and helped reduce traffic congestion around participating schools.

Children at Biddick Hall Junior school achieved an impressive average daily score of 76% of journeys by bike or scooter in the small primary school category, while Brunton First School in Gosforth, Newcastle and St John’s Academy in Darlington (pictured) got 57% of kids cycling and scooting to school. In the secondary school category John Spence Community High School came tenth on the Sustrans national leader board, with 14% of its 850 pupils choosing active travel during the event.

Currently more than 2,000 schools and nurseries are near to roads with damaging levels of motor emissions[i]. Cycling and walking can play a vital role in reducing pollution from nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter which are primarily produced by motor vehicles.

To help tackle air pollution, Sustrans is calling on the UK Government and local authorities to invest in cycling and walking infrastructure and further training and engagement programmes which will enable more young people to travel actively to school every day.

Rosslyn Colderley, Regional Director for Sustrans in the North of England said: “We’re delighted that so many schools in the North East took part in this year’s Big Pedal. Events like this demonstrate to parents and children just how easy it is to leave their car at home and walk, cycle or scoot to school instead.

“We hope that everyone who participated will continue to travel actively in the morning and afternoon. This will play a huge role in improving air quality and will protect future generations for years to come.

“To help clean up our air, the UK Government needs to show leadership by helping local authorities fund and deliver better cycling and walking infrastructure, so that every child is able to travel on foot or by bike to school in safety and with confidence.”

Organised by Sustrans, and sponsored by Micro Scooters and Tonik, the Big Pedal is the largest inter-school competition of its kind in the UK.

For more information and a list of the overall winners visit



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