Netherhall Upper School in Queen Edith’s Way now has two new cycle parking enclosures but problems remain.
In the last newsletter (Newsletter 80, page 21) I set out our concern about cycle parking provision at Netherhall Upper School, but said that more cycle stands were on order and were expected soon. They have now arrived and have been installed. Two lockable covered enclosures have been constructed each containing sixty toast-rack-style Sheffield stands. With two bicycles per stand there is space for 240 bicycles in the two enclosures.
This cycle parking provision is much better than in the past. Before this new installation none of the stands provided allowed the frame of the bicycle to be locked to the stand, leaving bicycles vulnerable to theft and to vandalism. One hundred (including three which are broken) of these old unsatisfactory cycle parking spaces remain on site. They should be replaced.
The latest figure for the number of students currently at the Upper School is 738, so 340 spaces would allow 46% to park their bicycles at the school. If Cambridge City Council’s Cycle Parking Standards (www.camcycle.org.uk/resources/cycleparking/standards/) were to be applied, 75% of students would have a cycle parking space available to them. We consider that these standards should apply but unfortunately the County Council, which is responsible for state schools within the city, applies much lower standards. For 75% of students to have a cycle space, 553 spaces would be needed – an additional 213 spaces (107 stands). 75% may seem to be too high a proportion but it should be borne in mind that no allowance is made for the cycle parking requirements of staff and visitors. There are 184 full- and part-time teaching and non-teaching staff at Netherhall Upper and Lower Schools combined. Around half of this number work primarily at the Upper School. Their cycle parking needs have to be covered within the 75% figure.
I do have reservations about the newly-installed cycle parking. Firstly it is much further away from the school entrances than car parking. Its location is not very convenient, nor is it very visible from the school buildings and this increases the danger of theft and vandalism. Secondly problems of maintenance are already apparent. When I visited the new cycle parking enclosures they were in need of sweeping to remove leaves and litter but the car parking areas in front of the school were much cleaner. Long-term maintenance of the metal stands themselves could also be a costly difficulty. Stainless steel stands could have been installed to eliminate the need for periodic repainting.
Finally, and most important of all, the stands are only 750mm apart. A 750mm gap for two bicycles means that they will be liable to get entangled with each other. The City Council’s cycle parking standards specify a minimum of 900mm and we favour 1,000mm (one metre).
I think that we should politely suggest to the County Council that 213 additional new spaces plus 100 replacement spaces are still needed to cover current student and staff requirements. Now that Cambridge has been recognized nationally as a cycling demonstration town, it would seem appropriate to convert some of the car parking in front of the school to cycle parking to provide these additional spaces in a very visible location close to the school entrances. We should ask that these new spaces conform to modern spacing standards.
As I described in my previous article, building work is now under way to enable the Lower School to move to the same site as the Upper School. The move is likely to happen in a year or two and the effect will be to nearly double the current numbers of students and staff on the Queen Edith’s Way site. A total of at least a thousand cycle parking places will then be needed.
I would like to thank members of staff at Netherhall Upper School for providing me with current figures for numbers of students and staff.