Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

Central Bedfordshire schools cycle their way to Lapland

Monday, 28 November 2022

Lower and primary schools are once again taking part in a Christmas challenge; counting walking, scooting and cycling trips to school to see if they can travel virtually to visit Santa in Lapland.

We organise the challenge, in partnership with sustainable transport charity Sustrans. So far, 24 schools have signed up to take part in this year’s challenge which runs from Monday 28 November to Friday 9 December.

The aim is to decrease the number of cars used on the school run and give pupils the opportunity to learn about the many benefits of traveling actively to school alongside the importance of staying safe.

Using a class record sheet, pupils and their teachers will monitor active travel trips to school. All journeys will then be combined to see if each school reached its goal of achieving 2,000 miles, the equivalent distance from Central Bedfordshire to Lapland. Each participating school will receive a scooter for one of their lucky pupils taking part.

The challenge has been running for nine years now and every year there has been an increase in the number of schools signing up to the challenge. Last year, pupils in Central Bedfordshire collectively travelled over 63,000 sustainable journeys to school during the two-week challenge.

Siobhan McSwiggan, Sustrans Schools and Communities Officer, said:

The journey to school, even in winter, is a great opportunity to get moving, stay healthy and arrive at school energised and ready to learn.

The majority of pupils live less than one mile from their school; normally less than a 20-minute walk or seven-minute cycle. For some village schools, journeys can be longer, but we’re also counting those who park and stride or park and scoot. This limits congestion at the school gate, making roads around the school safer and less polluted, whilst also providing a fun way to encourage everyone to travel to school in an active way.

Councillor Steven Dixon, our Executive Member for Sustainability and Public Protection, said:

This is the ninth time we’ve funded the Santa Challenge, which is a fun initiative that can bring serious benefits.

As well as the positive health impacts of encouraging families to get more exercise by walking, cycling or scooting to school, it can benefit the whole community by helping to reduce congestion, and therefore improving air quality. Children are advised to have some exercise every day, and this challenge is a really fun and easy way to achieve this.

Find out about the benefits of active travel.