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Map it - Bike it - Walk it

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This area contains three lesson plans for Year 5 or 6 students featuring local area fieldwork and emotional mapping. There are opportunities for students to reflect on and develop their personal geographies and increase their awareness of different ways to travel to school.

The project was piloted in Sheffield in 2010. The lesson plans and resources included in this section will help you to adopt and adapt this project for your own school.


The school catchment area is something that occupies a large part of a young person's personal geography. It contains their own home, the homes of their friends, shops and services that they use, spaces that they play in, clubs that they may be part of and of course the school that they go to. Then there are the places that connect all these together, spaces that may be just passed through or experienced in many different ways.

Because of this familiarity, not to mention the practical reasons, the area around your school is a great place to get outside and explore students' personal and emotional geographies. Whenever possible let the work be student-led, as this will make it more informative and enjoyable for everyone.

The Lessons

Lesson 1: Planning Session
Lesson 1 - Planning Session

In this lesson, students will reflect on what they already know about the local area and begin to prepare for the fieldwork.
Lesson 2: Fieldwork
Lesson 2 - Fieldwork

In this lesson, students will carry out fieldwork in groups, collecting different kinds of data.
Lesson 3: Follow Up
Lesson 3 - Follow up activities

In this lesson students will learn the principles behind GIS and how to to analyse and display fieldwork data. They will then write letters to the council offering proposals for improvements.


The aims of this project are to create an innovative, engaging and, where possible, student-led piece of fieldwork that will develop their personal geographies. In addition, it will increase their awareness of environmental and road safety issues in their local area and will encourage them to consider biking or walking to school.

In the fieldwork element of this project, students will map the area around the school. This will involve quantitative data collection such as categorising and recording road users and recording noise levels. It also involves aspects of emotional geography, as students will record their emotional responses to parts of the study area and collect a visual record of the area that elicits both positive and negative responses.

All the information can be recorded on handheld GPS units, although it is also possible to undertake this project without these. After the fieldwork, the data will be collated and then mapped or graphed. This information can then be disseminated to other groups, including other students, parents, teachers, councillors and other members of the local community.


  • An increased awareness of issues affecting road safety and the local environment
  • A display with a map of the local catchment area with colour coded 'Bikeability' levels and 'Wordles' created from fieldwork data
  • Identification of problem areas which can be forwarded to the local authority
  • Increased awareness of different ways of getting to school, including cycling and walking
  • An enjoyable geographical fieldwork experience

What is Bike It?

'Bike it' is a project from Sustrans, the UK's leading sustainable transport charity, which is designed to encourage children to ride their bike to school. The project has already quadrupled the number of children cycling to its target schools.

Find out more on the Sustrans website.


Sustrans logo

Sustrans - Bike It

Sheffield City Council (School Travel Team)

Geographical Association

These materials were put together by Henry Norman, Sustrans Bike It Officer working to increase cycling and walking levels in schools in Sheffield. He previously worked for the Field Studies Council and as a secondary geography teacher.

Lesson 1: Planning Session
Lesson 1
Lesson 2: Fieldwork
Lesson 2
Lesson 3: Follow Up
Lesson 3

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14:47 - 10/02/11

this page does not tell you why you should bike it or walk it e.g ; the healthy exercise you get out of it .

John Lyon

John Lyon

GA Staff

10:33 - 11/02/11

Good point Sophie. Sustrans have pots of material on this topic to accompany these lessons. I've e mailed Henry for his suggestions on the best links to the healthy living aspect and his bikeability work. We just concentrated here on the geography. Too much it seems given the title of the piece.

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