New school – Old mistakes

As part of the North Ely development for 3000 houses the planning application for the new primary school has been submitted. The new school will be in an area between Cam Drive and Lynn Road, two major roads in Ely which connect to the A10 and have heavy lorry traffic and no usable cycle infrastructure.

The planning document mentions as one of it’s key design drivers:

To develop the existing access routes, identified in the site master plan, to provide safe
segregation for vehicles and pedestrians.


Strong pedestrian and cycle links.


Pedestrian and cyclist access is to be encouraged with the integration of footpaths with cyclelanes into the proposed highways infrastructure (Endurance Development Master Plan).Vehicular areas, car parking and drop-off is clearly identified with safe segregation.

So the usual shared-use paths which don’t work should encourage cycling and walking. Now let’s see how the car parking and drop-off is segregated:


Right, so there are drop-off points all around the school and pedestrians and cyclists have to take their chances in between. Just like pretty much any other school where most people drop their kids off by car because it’s too dangerous to let them walk or cycle.

Let’s assume some people want to walk or cycle anyway, how are they supposed to get there:

As part of the Ely development master plan, new pedestrian/cycle routes will be extended to link into and around the new primary school development.

And that’s it. No details at all. So we have a new school which will be on a major access road to a 3000 houses development, surrounded by car parking drop-off points. No pedestrian crossings, no details of cycle paths connected some non-existant cycle routes.

Anyone want to predict how most people will take their children to this new school?

So – what could be made better:

  • At the very least remove all the drop-off points near the entrances and move them to the back (by the sports fields) or create a designated drop-off area, e.g. next to the staff car park.
  • If you have to keep the drop off points on the opposite side of the road to
    the school, where are the crossing points to get the kids across?
  • Truly segregate pedestrians from cars, not just with words!
  • Segregate the cyclists from the pedestrians. Provide modern infrastructure, not the same old shared-use path that neither cyclists nor pedestrians find safe
  • Make the public square at the front lager with prominent cycle parking and plenty of benches and some playground enquipment to create an environment for people where parents and children can wait during drop-off and pick-up time.
  • Is it easier to walk or drive? Is it further to walk or drive? Make walking and cycling as convenient as possible and make parking and driving harder and more time consuming so it actually saves time to leave the car at home. Only then will people be encouraged to walk or cycle!

This is what we would like to see:


  • Drop-off parking away from the entrance, e.g. by the sports fields.(in yellow)
  • Safe crossing points outside all entrances to allow pedestrians to take the shortest route (in black)
  • Segregated cycle routes on all roads in the new development (in red)
  • It should also be considered how traffic near the school can be reduced. Can the roads be made one-way? Do they have to be through routes or can they be cul-de-sacs?

Please don’t make the same old mistakes and try to see how similar schemes work successfully in other places.

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