How is it working so far…

Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure

Some comments on Twitter prompted the web-editor to take a look, and to create this post examining barrier positioning, pavement safety and the problems on Mill Road Bridge.

Pavement parking (including loading/unloading) is problematic. These vehicles were spotted on Friday 26th June between 16:35 and 17:11.

If the intention of these works was to enhance pavement space for pedestrians, it seems self-defeating if vehicles are still permitted to mount the pavements. See my personal view about Protecting Pedestrian Space.

Some of it is habitual on behalf of drivers, but some is a direct result of mis-placed barriers by Cambridgeshire County Council, as in this case at Arjuna.

Annotated photo from Arjuna wholefoods co-operative

More on Arjuna’s criticism of the scheme here – Arjuna calls Mill Road scheme ‘potential disaster zone for traffic and pedestrians alike’ by Mike Scialom, in the Cambridge Independent.

Meanwhile, on Mill Road Bridge, I spoke to a retired gentleman, sunning himself on the Suzy Oakes commemorative bench, who told me, “I’ve been sitting here half-an-hour and counted 47 vehicles.”

This level of infringement is borne out by these vehicles, observed on Friday 26th June between 17:28 and 17:36. Some drivers may not have been aware and not have read the signage. But it is difficult to believe that the taxi driver was unaware of the closure, following the noisy demonstration on Wednesday 24th June.

We are waiting for an accident…
Two accidents reported yesterday at Romsey side.

Piero d’Angelico
Video Friday 26th June from Piero d’Angelico

And these vehicles, observed on Sunday 28th June between 16:08 and 17:40.

Notice, again, the taxis, the two supermarket delivery vehicles (Asda and Sainsbury’s, the close-passing of cyclists and the congestion at the top of the bridge. Note also the cyclist on the pavement – avoiding the hazardous layout of the carriageway.

The situation is hazardous. It would appear that some drivers are aware that the ANPR enforcement cameras have not yet been installed. Others have failed to read the warning signs, or think rules don’t apply to them. Signage need to be clearer.

More explicit signage – No Entry except buses and cycles – is needed urgently. A rethink of the width and positioning of the pavement ‘build-out’ barriers needs to be undertaken, so that cyclists are not put at risk by those drivers who fail or decline to observe the signs.

You are welcome to post (polite) comments on bridge infractions and safety, on the layout of barriers, and on pavement below.

If you wish to comment more generally on the merits and disadvantages to the scheme generally, please add them to the comments section of the parallel post – Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure.

22 thoughts on “How is it working so far…”

  1. This morning I went over the bridge at about 9.45 and came back at about 11.30. Both times at least half the pedestrians were ignoring the signs about which side to use and were on the wrong side. What chance that they will ever use the passing spaces now taking out chunks of the road? At 9.45 I witnessed an Ambulance car which had approached the bridge from the Romsey side, stop, turn round and go back the other way. Whoever was waiting for them will have had a longer wait.

    This is odd, the Mill Road, Cambridge Experimental Order states (Part 4 Conditions and Exemptions Para 6)

    Nothing in Part 3 of this Order shall apply to a vehicle in any length of road specified in Schedule 1 if it is necessary for the vehicle to be used for ambulance, fire brigade or police purposes.

    – Web Editor

  2. Unless I have missed it, there are STILL no signs saying “businesses still open”. The County Council is a disgrace.

  3. How can it be safe for a cyclist to pass a bus that is 2.55 metres wide? when the road is only 3.5 metres wide? It’s ludicrous to leave less than a metre for a cyclist, let alone a cyclist with a box on the front carrying a small child.

    Mill Road looks more like an adult go cart track with the plastic boxes narrowing the road. How can it be safe for shops to take deliveries when they cannot even get to their shop because of the obstruction (road narrowing scheme) is directly outside the shop. They now have to park on the pavements metres away from their shop, and carry, sometimes very heavy items on a pedestrian pathway, surely the council should have carried out a risk assessment?

    1. Leaving to one side (for a moment) the valid arguments on the benefits/disbenefits of this scheme, most people I speak to, on either side of the argument, feel that Cambridgeshire County Council (and their contractors, Skanska) have made a pig’s ear of the implementation.

      As for the issue of buses, the drivers seem to have been exceptionally well-trained and tend to hang back and give way to cyclists.

      But your general point about the excessive width of the build-outs is a valid one. And the positioning of some is ridiculous. The one opposite Arjuna Wholefoods Co-operative (to give more pavement space, remember) results in their vehicles having to occupy the pavement outside their shop, unless they were to block the road in both directions. See Arjuna calls Mill Road scheme ‘potential disaster zone for traffic and pedestrians alike’ by Mike Scialom, in the Cambridge Independent

  4. I run a business on Mill Road and out of necessity have to drive across the bridge daily, at least twice. I still do and I will continue to do so for as long as possible.

    Apart from the very real threat of going out of business, I need to do this as a form of protest, and likely the most suitable form of protest.

    A proven method to encourage rules to change is when they are seen to be unworkable. If suddenly cars stopped using the bridge it would be seen as “see, the bridge can easily be closed, there isn’t any pushback”, but by cars, etc, insisting on using the bridge, especially when they know it’s illegal, should be seen as an entirely correct form of protest.

    Bit like cyclists insisting on going down one way streets the wrong way leading to cycle lanes on those streets, even though those streets cannot accommodate cars and bikes!

    Additionally, there are no signs prohibiting cars. There are messages, notices, INFORMATION, but not a single sign. Which begs the question, why are people photographing people who ignore information?

    As for pavements being widened so they encroach into Mill Road to act as traffic calming measures… I don’t see how making a log jammed road of slow moving traffic needs calming. If anything, widen the road and excite it a bit!

    Social distancing? The pavements on either side of the bridge are designated as one way for pedestrians, but this is ignored. Completely. So there is no chance people will back up and wait in a zone to allow other pedestrians to pass.

    1. “Social distancing? The pavements on either side of the bridge are designated as one way for pedestrians, but this is ignored. Completely. So there is no chance people will back up and wait in a zone to allow other pedestrians to pass.”

      I have made the same point a few days ago. I think it was generally ignored.

      1. Which is incredible.

        Building these road encroaching zones is expensive, and the social distancing reason has been proven to not work by our posts about the bridge pedestrian one way routes being ignored.

        And I think those pedestrian one way signs have been removed (I might be mistaken but I haven’t seen them for a few days)… I suspect it’s because it’s all too clear they don’t work.

        And now we have a reduction of social distancing to one meter, which further highlights the ridiculousness of all this.

        And yet the money continues to be wasted…

  5. There was a near miss tonight at 7.30 near the Stop Shop by Vinery Road. A motorist came at great speed heading towards the ring road. He/she clearly only saw the ‘build out’ from the pavement at the last minute and braked sharply. Two cylists heading in the other direction were narrowly avoided.

    These barriers seem pointless and are bound to cause accidents. I hope they are not going to waste money making them more permanent. The money would be better spent on repairing the appallingly uneven pavements on Mill Road. I had the misfortune to trip on one such section of pavement, near Hobart Road, in March and to date it has not been repaired, despite two reports that it is dangerous.

  6. At the moment the build outs are inadvertently training the drivers to ignore the signage when they finally get to the bridge because the build outs there look so similar to the ones they’re intended to pass.

  7. My carer was nearly knocked off her bike twice last week. Both cases by cars or buses coming the other way and not waiting on the bridge. She has decided that Coldham’s Lane is a safer route for cyclists now. Seems mad… the closure last year wasn’t like this…

  8. The bus drivers need retraining….

    Utterly terrifying having one moving his vehicle towards me as I approached the top of the bridge on my bike. He could see me approaching and just could not be bothered to wait.

    The cars are never going to prioritise cyclists on the narrower strips of road and they pass too close.

    This is so stupid and dangerous. It was far safer on Mill Road with normal two-way traffic.

  9. Well l hope the Police act on the photographs. However I do not have much faith they will!

    Personally Cambridge Police are a disgrace at law enforcement these days. If each of these vehicles was given a fine then it would more than pay for full time Police officers to actually patrol the bridge!

    The taxi driver should have their licence taken off them!

    The worrying thing is that as we come out of lockdown, the more people think they can disobey laws!

    We need more Police and we need the Police we do have to be more proactive!

  10. Presumably you’ll be sending the number plates to the County Council so drivers can be fined?

    1. Only ANPR camera evidence is acceptable.

      Perhaps it would be useful to ask taxi licensing authorities and the two supermarkets to offer ‘words of advice’ to those drivers.

      Maybe we could set up a commission of enquiry, under the chairmanship of Lord Drainlid.

  11. I think the bridge closure will be good in the long-term, but it needs ANPR cameras to be installed to make it effective. Otherwise people will continue to ignore the signs.

    I’m also a bit confused by the barriers that have been set-up in various places. Does anyone know what the purpose of these is?

    1. The alleged intention of the barriers is two-fold;

      1. Provide more space for pedestrians to distance from others;
      2. Calm traffic.
    2. Good long term?

      It’s very likely we will have to sell up, and this is going to be very difficult because who wants to buy a failing business?

      If you call an undemocratic process forcing us to either go bankrupt or make a huge loss when selling, then yes, this is a good thing.

      1. The reason I think it will be good in the long term is that I think it will make Mill Road a much more desirable place to shop and visit.

        I do genuinely want to know more about your reasons for having to sell-up though. Presumably this is due to lack of customers who are currently driving to your business?

        Do you know what proportion of your customers are currently driving to your business? Also, where are they parking at the moment?

        1. Neil that is an interesting perspective, thank you. I have lived off Mill Road for about 30 years (and over 50 in Cambridge). I have always enjoyed Mill Road as having a bustling, vibrant feel with its range of hairdressers, shops and cafes.

          However, I have never felt that traffic put me off shopping there. If anything it added to the experience with people walking, cycling, jumping in and out of taxis, loading an unloading. In the evening the traffic gave the street a safer atmosphere as there were always people about. Now, with “road closed” signs and the bridge restricted, it feels rather like a run-down dead-end street, with all the vibrancy taken away.

          I am also a very positive cyclist, but cycling over Mill Road bridge today felt pretty dangerous.

          I would suggest the following improvements for safety of all and a more vibrant street:

          1. the one-way pavement walking scheme is enforced;
          2. the in-road bollards are reduced in width to improve safety for cyclists;
          3. we allow bikes, cars, vans and taxis to use the bridge but ban large vehicles (buses, lorries) except emergency vehicles;
          4. buses could use shuttle services to the ends of the bridge, as last year during the bridge works.

          Once Covid fears are over, we should revert to the “full access” road that made Mill Road the place we all remember, and hope the majority of businesses are still open and in business. To help this, businesses should receive compensation from the County Council for their lost trade.

          Minor editing of list to enable responses. – Web editor

          1. As I wrote here, in reply to Paul Weaver

            Leaving to one side (for a moment) the valid arguments on the benefits/disbenefits of this scheme, most people I speak to, on either side of the argument, feel that Cambridgeshire County Council (and their contractors, Skanska) have made a pig’s ear of the implementation.

            Your comment confirms that view.

            I, too, cycle along Mill Road, and over the bridge. I agree with your view that it is currently more dangerous.

            As for your points:

            1. How? By whom? With what penalties?
            2. This should be a priority. I have contacted to make this point, Cc-ing local County Councillors (Petersfield) and (Romsey). I suggest that you do, too.
            3. Completely disagree. Prior to these works, I’ve never felt threatened by an oncoming or following bus, but often have by light vans and, especially, taxis.
            4. Shuttle buses? Again? Mill Road lost its through service to Addenbrooke’s through GTR’s bridge works last summer, and again because of the Fendon Road ‘Dutch-style’ roundabout débâcle (thanks again to Cambridgeshire County Council). Buses are currently running to time. Let’s not disrupt that.

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