PENARTH youngsters have been getting in the right gear by cycling to school as part of The Big Pedal initiative.

Pupils from Stanwell School and St Joseph’s RC Primary School have been taking part in the fortnight, which runs from March 3 to March 14, that encourages children to ride bicycles and scooters to school.

The UK-wide campaign sees schools competing against each other in fun activities with prizes for daily and weekly winners. Both Penarth schools have seen a significant increase in the number of pupils arriving by bike and parents leaving their cars at home.

Events at St Joseph’s have seen around 25 pupils a day getting to school under their own steam, with a new 20 bicycle-capacity shelter seeing good use.

Head teacher Gareth Rein said: “Ten per cent of the school coming by bicycle is where we’d like to get to. This scheme has helped boost the numbers.”

Stanwell School has won the competition for the last two years and is now aiming to complete a hat-trick of wins.

Faye Squire, healthy schools co-ordinator for Stanwell School, said that the main aim of The Big Pedal was getting pupils to cycle to school and live a healthier lifestyle.

“On average we have about 30 to 40 pupils cycling to school, but this has been increasing with the programme,” she said.

“It’s about trying to get pupils a bit more active and getting on their bikes travelling to school.”

Earlier this week the Mayor of Penarth, Cllr Neil Thomas, visited both schools to congratulate pupils on taking part in the initiative.

“I’m really delighted to see so many children using their bikes and scooters to get to school,” he said.

“If we can encourage young people to be more confident coming to school this way, it’s good news all round: for their health, for reducing traffic congestion and for climate change”

Sustrans’ National Director Jane Lorimer added: “The competition is great for giving pupils a taste of how easy cycling to school can be. Here in Penarth the new paths help provide safe and convenient routes and we hope the Big Pedal will be the start of children having the confidence to cycle more regularly.”