Another school in the borough is up for expansion, and goes to planning soon. We don’t think the council does enough to support schools to get children walking and cycling to school, so this Friday we’re doing a petition at the Russell School in Ham.
The Russell is potentially moving to two form entry – another 120 children when it’s full – and is being extensively remodeled to support this, including the sale of up to 17% of the school’s land. We think that what the council has done at two other schools recently to support additional children shows clearly just how little they’re really prepared to do to support active travel.
For example, the Vineyard School has recently started its build to add an additional form of entry, bringing it to a peak of over 600 children and dozens of staff. When the school appeared in front of the planning committee, their key concern was around the effects that school drop off will have on traffic in the area, and they therefore required school staff to spend valuable time supervising drop-offs and pick-ups.
And more recently at Stanley School – also significantly expanded – the council removed the cycle lane altogether, forcing children to walk and cycle in the same small space at peak times. Whilst the old cycle lane at Stanley might have been less than ideal, it didn’t create conflict by having children cycle past buggies and families.
When schools do expansion, the council seems not to think about how it might improve the environment around the schools to make active travel a nicer option.
We think schools in the morning should look more like this
Cycling to school, Dutch style (from “A view from the cycle path”)
and less like this:
Perhaps not the most typical school run …
We think that council officials need to see this all a bit more holistically: when you’re re-modelling the school, you should think carefully about how to make the school an easy place to get to, and what needs to be done to the environment around the school. A school has a huge part to play in trying to persuade children and families to choose options like walking and cycling. But we can’t ask primary staff to encourage cycling to school when that means asking children to share busy roads with large vehicles. It isn’t the school’s responsibility to design its own roads and transport!
So in Friday we’re going to be asking current parents at Russell School to sign a petition to Richmond Council to make sure that the new school site is a great place to walk to and to cycle to, and not just build yet another school site that people only cycle to because they’re prepared to try to shepherd their loved ones on a busy road.
Come along and join us, or drop us an email
We amended this article on September 26th to include corrected details on how the school is changing.