This article was published in 2008, in Newsletter 80.
Netherhall Upper and Lower Schools are to be amalgamated and will share the current site of the Upper School on Queen Edith’s Way. The buildings of the Lower School are to be demolished and the site is to be used for housing. For now the Lower School continues to operate in its present buildings but construction work for new buildings has recently started at the Upper School.
We have become concerned about cycle parking provision. The building work now under way has led to the demolition of the cycle parking area which previously served the Upper School. 240 of the old cycle parking stands (all of wheel-bending toast-rack type), some of which are broken and unusable, have been moved for current use to an open area at the far end of the playground. Access to this area is through a new school gate alongside the Building Contractor’s entrance. I have located a total of 40 more stands in the grounds of the Upper School. These are in groups of ten in shelters but again all are wheel-benders and some are broken. I am not clear who has access to these 40 stands-they may be for school staff.
Although Netherhall School is within the city, it is administered by the County Council. They grant themselves planning permission. The Planning Committee of the City Council is consulted about plans but decisions are taken by the County Council. The City’s Cycle Parking Standards do not apply.
In the Transport Assessment carried out by Atkins for the planning application they estimate that for the two schools 46% of students arrive on foot, 43% by bicycle, 7% by car and 4% by bus. Student numbers are 750 for the Lower School and 700 for the Upper School, a total of 1450 students. On these figures 624 stands would provide for this number of student cyclists but with no leeway at all for broken stands, for day-to-day fluctuations in numbers or, most important of all, for the general expansion in the number of student cyclists that should result from local authority policies encouraging cycling and from the new impetus provided by the fact that Cambridge is now a cycling demonstration town. It would make sense to provide 900 stands for the students of the amalgamated school plus whatever additional numbers (maybe 100 stands) are required for visitors and for the teaching and all other school staff. Moreover all of the stands should of course be Sheffields or A-frames to allow the frames of the bicycles to be secured, should preferably be made of stainless steel to greatly reduce the cost of maintenance and to avoid the tatty appearance that is so characteristic of school cycle parking and should be conveniently close to the entrances to the school buildings to reduce theft and to encourage students to come by bicycle.
We have been told that more cycle stands are on order and are expected soon, perhaps even later this month (September). We wait with interest and some concern to see whether these will provide adequately for the immediate needs of the Upper School and for the longer-term requirements of the amalgamated school. The future of cycling in Cambridge depends heavily on encouraging young people at local schools to get into the habit of getting around by bicycle.