A traffic-free Mill Road?

The recent closure of Mill Road for emergency repairs has prompted a debate about removing unwanted through traffic on a more permanent basis. Join the debate.

Over 18 thousand adults live off Mill Rd. If it were closed to private through traffic, it could have widened pavements and cafe extensions to shops.Dave Baigent, city councillor for Romsey.

For more on the size of the Mill Road community of communities (over 25,000 souls in 2011) read this post,  or the PDF (316KB)


New! Experimental closure to through-traffic scheme currently on Mill Road … aka street repair. Will Cambridge grind to a halt, or will people cope, showing that a more permanent change would work?  – CamCycle


A view from Romsey Labour‘s Making spaces for people consultation page…

Romsey Labour often discuss the possibility of how Mill Road can be made safer and this was raised again at the last meeting.  At that time opinion was balanced in favour but this is a moving feast and it was decided to have it as an agenda item at the next ward meeting.

What follows is a view in favour

This action follows a very positive response to the unexpected blockage of Mill Road by a road collapse 27th-28th June – this has reopened the debate about if we could have a trial stoppage of through traffic.  A trial closure at Mill Road Bridge monitored by CCTV could mean:

  • all private vehicles would be stopped from crossing the bridge
  • all of Mill Road would still be accessible
  • deliveries could be 24/7 and this would help traders.
  • it would be much safer space for pedestrians/cyclists (see the amount of collisions)
  • massively reduce pollution
  • buses could have a traffic free route and be on time
  • Of course there remain people who are against this because it will interfere with their car journeys – there are also concerns about pushing traffic onto other roads.  The traders have also indicated that they remain opposed.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign on the other hand are enthused and they have raised the potential of introducing ‘parklets’.  Seen below these would be used to widen the pavement and allow shops to extend their frontages – to allow ‘pop up cafes’ for example. They believe that trade would be increased for traders if the road was closed to through traffic and with parklets there would be further gains.

parkletfornewspost.jpgThese ‘parklets’ would be relatively cheap to construct and make so much difference to the narrow parts of pavement on Mill Road.

Nothing that has been suggested would remove access from any part of Mill Road.  Deliveries could continue as before and because there was no through traffic the lorries would be unlikely to frustrate drivers, cyclist and pedestrians.  This has got to be a way forward and people should contact their councillors to make their views known (for or against).

It may even be that the Greater Cambridge Partnership could be approached to fund this trial.

From Romsey Councillors: Dave Baigent, Anna Smith, Sophie Barnett, Noel Kavanagh


As a non-party-political community group, Mill Road Bridges would love to hear from councillors and/or activists of other parties about their vision for Mill Road. Come on Conservatives, Greens and Liberal Democrats!


ON THURSDAY 13 September, a by-election takes place in the Petersfield ward of the city following the resignation of former councillor Ann Sinnott.
Candidates have been announced as follows:

Surname First Names Party
Brown Sarah Elizabeth Liberal Democrat
Cole Othman Bankole The Conservative Party Candidate *
Green Kelley The Labour Party Candidate
Ierubino Virgil Au Wenhan The Green Party

More information from the Cambridge City Council website:
Candidates for Petersfield by-election announced
* This is the latest link we could find.
[All links accessed 17/08/2018 circa 15:40]


Making space for people on Mill Road – Smarter Cambridge Transport

The closure of Mill Road while a sinkhole was repaired prompted people to wonder whether the road could be closed permanently to through traffic. Some have called for a trial closure and Camcycle is putting forward a vision for a Mill Road with wider pavements, improved streetscape with parklets, and more cycle parking.

The café tables on the pavement around 196 Cocktail Bar hint at what a vibrant street culture we could have if Mill Road were more hospitable for people, and less so for motor vehicles. As alocal, I’d love to see this. It’s exactly the vision that our local community should be aspiring to.

But, wearing my Smarter Cambridge Transport hat, I have two concerns: the first is about the practical impact of a closure point on vehicles needing to access homes and businesses. Even if Mill Road were opened up in the early morning for shop deliveries, at other times, motor vehicles of all sizes (other than buses) would have to be directed around loops through residential streets either side of the closure point.

A bigger concern is the effect of treating this part of the city’s road network in isolation. Mill Road is special, particularly to those who live around it, but…

Read the full article: Making space for people on Mill Road – Smarter Cambridge Transport (PDF 777KB)

From Leader of Smarter Cambridge Transport, Edward Leigh


Mill Road reclaimed for humans – a vision

At the start of July, Mill Road was closed to through traffic, as a sinkhole had appeared near the Co-op. Calm and tranquillity broke out. You could hear people talking across the street. It was at last safe to cycle. Mill Road felt like a place again. Just for two days.

We want to make this permanent. Mill Road has for too long been a conduit for traffic rather than a place for people – the result of cars cutting through it to get to/from the city centre.

Cambridge didn’t grind to a halt in July. Cherry Hinton Road did experience delays, but we believe this problem can be dealt with, as discussed below.

By taking out much of the through traffic, alternative travel becomes much more attractive. For instance, buses would keep to time, and services could be expanded to be much more regular.

However, it’s not enough just to stop through traffic. We’d like to see a whole range of changes. This change is not really an agenda for cycling: it’s about turning Mill Road back into a place again.

[…]

Traffic evaporation – what about surrounding roads?

It’s a common misconception that when streets are changed to stop through traffic all the traffic goes elsewhere. Not so – ‘traffic evaporation’ occurs. People change their behaviour, resulting in a lot of car journeys simply disappearing.

In the case of Mill Road, cycling would at last be safe, bus journeys become practical, and walking without breaking into a cough from the poor air becomes possible.

Of course, some traffic will be displaced, and it’s important that Cherry Hinton Road in particular has action taken on it. Cherry Hinton Road is wide enough for a proper cycleway in many places, again providing an alternative to driving, and ought to be a pleasant tree-lined boulevard. Combined with the proposed Workplace Parking Levy and/or a Toxicity Charge – both of which are needed in Cambridge – traffic in the surrounding area can be minimised.

Mill Road is a much narrower road and, unlike much of Cherry Hinton Road, is a high street, densely lined with shops and other facilities. Pedestrian and cycle traffic is much higher on Mill Road, and 18,000+ people live off Mill Road – a very densely-populated area.

Read the full article from CamCycle here: Mill Road reclaimed for humans – a vision (PDF 384 KB)


Post your (pre-moderated) comments below.

2 thoughts on “A traffic-free Mill Road?”

  1. Making Mill Road car free is not the solution, though the road should be made more pedestrian and cycle friendly.

    1. Most fully pedestrianised streets become quite sterile unless there is a very large pedestrian usage. some cars give a street life.
    2. However positive ways of encouraging fewer car journeys is welcome.
    3. But many people will still need to use cars:
      3.1 to get to work, especially if they work shifts, out of town etc.
      3.2. To take children to school ( not all can walk or cycle, not all can get to a walkable school)
      3.3. to go shopping – most families cannot do family shop on a bike
      3.4. The elderly or disabled need cars to shop and for access – walking to bus stop often too far, cycling often impossible, certainly carry shopping.
    4. What is needed is changes to road surfaces and planting using planters and trees to link a series of green spaces from Petersfield to Brooks Road. This would slow down and deter traffic by making Mill Road more visibly a shared space, rather than a road where traffic flow was considered priority – at present the state of the pavements is visually horrible when not dangerous, esp considering they must have one of the largest numbers of pedestrians in Cambridge outside the city centre.
    5. The spaces and Movement consultation at the Maths centre failed to cover Mill Road. The online consultation was not widely known about and froze as I was completing it.
    6. The presentation by Mr Hamilton Bailey on Mill Road traffic issues was supported but has never since seen the light of day. It makes a good starting point. Money will always be an issue, but at present there seems to be a lot of it for favoured projects. Mill Road is the best known street in Cambridge outside the city centre, unlike other main roads it brings people together from both sides, rather than dividing them as other arterial roads do. So time for this to be recognised ?
      See: Hamilton-Baillie Associates Ltd – Civilised Space
    7. The bridge should not divide Romsey and Petersfield, but link them.
  2. I think Cllr. Baigent’s proposal is full of good sense. It is simple and will allow both traders and residents to reap the benefits of less congestion. I am also convinced by the ‘traffic evaporation’ argument. At present walking and cycling along Mill Road is dangerous, cut the through traffic and both walking and cycling will become pleasurable and safe.

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