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.

See also these related posts:

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

  1. Hello, now it has been a few weeks. I actually think the system is a lot better from my perspective as a pedestrian. On a few occasions I’ve had to hop off the pavement into the weird lay-bys with my pram so it has been helpful.

    The roads are a mess with all the plastic so I’d hope they’re temporary. Equally many cars ignore the signs and go over but hopefully that will stop.

    I also drive, generally to the opposite side of Cambridge and I’ve tried a few routes – via Coldham’s Lane and the Beehive then out over that roundabout and also across to Hills Road. I’m a nervous driver and was a little worried about the diversion but I didn’t find it too bad, and it only added ten mins or so, though I do avoid rush hour I imagine it’s worse at peak times.

    Generally speaking Mill Road is a bit of a mess right now; there just seems to be lots of junk around, people leaving furniture out front, builders leaving junk to be picked up, all the bollards and seemingly endless road works. I do think the [county] council could help by smartening the road up, I walk down it now because I know I can avoid people and I have no choice living here unless I take a detour via Rustat road (which I do if I’m walking in the afternoon and it’s busier). But if I had a choice I’m not sure I’d be strolling up and down Mill Road to do my shopping when supermarkets are open. I did come down one evening and it was a lot nicer when the restaurants were open.

    Limoncello meanwhile is fabulous – those guys deserve a medal for how they’ve come through and adapted to these strange times.

  2. Another ‘bogey’ for some commenters seems to be Cambridge City Councillor for Romsey, Dave Baigent.

    In a personal piece – entitled Is the closure of Mill Rd Bridge democratic? – on the Romsey section of the Cambridge Labour Party website, Cllr Baigent argues…

    People are asking me why I support the partial closure of Mill Road Bridge. There are two reasons. First and foremost, this is because it is a safety measure. Second because it is something that Romsey residents tell me they want.

    The biggest ‘ask’ from Romsey residents is to reduce traffic on Mill Rd; most people actually suggest something similar to the action county are taking right now. And remember Romsey experienced a bridge closure last year, so residents do have an insight into what they are asking for.

    We should recognise that it is not the bridge closure that is stopping pedestrians shopping on Mill Road; it is fear. Less traffic could affect some traders, but people who are in fear of visiting Mill Road will also reduce trade.

    If you wish to comment on Cllr Baigent’s view please make sure that you have read his full blogpost.

    1. Pavements along Mill Road are mainly narrow on the residential side. Build-outs force delivery vehicles to park fully on the pavement where most pedestrians are, negating the point of the scheme.

      Why not add two or three more crossings on either side of the bridge instead? These would enable people to cross more easily and slow traffic down (including racing bikes).

      Also, the pavements are relatively wide because shops are able to use their former front gardens as paved areas. Would they be prepared to ‘swap’ these areas for half-width delivery bays? Traffic/pedestrians aren’t generally held up when vehicles are only half parked on the pavement. (Just saying).

      By the way, what’s happened to the pavement parking that’s allowed on side streets?

  3. The Cambridge Cycling Campaign seems to be regarded as something of a ‘bogey’ by some traders and some non-cyclists.

    It’s worth taking a look at what their actual viewpoint is, expressed in this piece on the CamCycle website.

    Camcycle calls on county council to complete Mill Road improvements quickly and support the local community

    Some of the points made include:

    • Better signage at each end of Mill Road, making it clear the street is open for business with full access to all properties
    • A Mill Road promotional campaign to attract visitors to the street
    • Mill Road can and should be a thriving and safe place to shop and visit. The county council needs to do its best to get these complementary measures in place as soon as possible, to give a clear message that Mill Road is open and safe.

    If you wish to comment on Camcycle’s views please make sure that you have read the full blogpost.

    1. So far the cycling campaign (ironically) is the only body publicly and consistently saying there should be car parking added on Mill Road and at each sideroad:

      “Marked delivery bays, short-stay parking and disabled car parking in safe locations. Without motor traffic using up all the roadspace, there is now parking space for shoppers who need to travel by car”

      Why aren’t traders on board with that idea, or rather being totally silent about it if they are? Bizarre.

    2. There don’t seem to be any plans to put explanatory notices at the far end of roads which feed into Mill road transversely?

      I’m dubious about adding any more street clutter that I will have to navigate past on my bike given that some motor traffic (buses, cars entering Mill Road from dead ends streets that have no other exit, deliveries is inevitable).

      1. There are plans for more appropriate signage, of the kind which we have suggested in our first blog post on this subject, and has been suggested by Cambridge Antique Centre, on Twitter. I’ve discussed this with County Councillor, Linda Jones (Petersfield).

        When the Mill Road Bridge was closed as a result of GoviaThameslink’s work, last summer, there was, at least initially, inadequate signage to inform vehicle drivers and others that all of Mill Road’s businesses were open, but the bridge was closed.

        Members and officers worked hard to get GTR to comply, for which thanks is due.

        With the Covid-related works about to commence, trust there will be no issues with signage this time, as it will be entirely under the Highway Authority’s remit. I attach a suggested sign, though I’ve no doubt that the county team, in consultation with Mill Road’s Traders, will be able to come up with an improved version.

        – Mill Road Bridges

        I agree about the need for signage and I specifically raised the issue of the inadequacy of last summer’s Signage with Cambridgeshire County Council. They stated that under the current measures they can create specific signage and are not bound by the DfT handbook. Keep a watch on this and feedback concerns.

        – Councillor Linda Jones, Petersfield, Labour

        The county and its contractors are incredibly slow at getting these things done, however.

  4. Following a prolonged period of ‘lockdown’, I’ve just returned from one of my first walks into Mill Road, where I witnessed blatant disregard for signage allowing only buses and cyclists to use the Mill Road Bridge!

    Within the space of 2 minutes I took these photos from the topmost point on the bridge. There is no police presence and although there is signage warning CCTV is in operation, I very much doubt there is ‘numberplate recognition’ system installed!

    1. Taxi on bridge
    2. Bus on bridge
    3. Cars on bridge
    4. Van on bridge
    5. Motor-scooter on bridge
    6. Car on bridge
    7. Car squeezing cyclist on bridge
    8. Van on bridge
    9. Cyclist and car on bridge

    Notwithstanding the pros and cons of the current proposals, this situation is ‘an accident waiting to happen’, and since there appears to be no direct link by phone or email to lodge this information with the police, I wonder whether Mill Road Bridges can begin a campaign of ‘naming & shaming’, so to speak, by publishing photos in their site and inviting readers to send in their opinions and pictures?

  5. Have pubs, cafes, etc, opening on Saturday helped our failing business?

    No. No increase in trade, at all.

    And those “pedestrian walk one way” signs on the bridge have definitely been removed. So, it seems someone doesn’t want the obvious lack of public willingness to socially distance, so obvious for all to see when people ignore the signs, to be photographed and used as evidence that this has failed, spectacularly.

    And yet I see people still photograph, and worse, shout at drivers when they use the bridge.

    TBC, there are NO signs that indicate the bridge is legally closed, instead there is information. Information is not legally binding, so why on Earth are cyclists stopping in the road and shouting at drivers?

    Information isn’t processed as quickly as pictorial signs, and not everyone reads English, hence information on it’s own (for drivers) isn’t legally binding.

    Also, as I’ve said before, rules can change when there is sufficient pushback. In other words this is a form of protest, and one that doesn’t bring the city to a standstill, etc.

    All those back streets now have cycle lanes when before there were none. That happened because cyclists insisted on illegally using those roads, and it became clear that prohibiting cyclists from using those roads was unworkable.

    So, pedestrian one way signs didn’t work, and now they’ve been removed to hide the fact.

    Cyclists pushed back on roads that banned bikes, and that resulted in the rules changing.

    The bridge has no signs prohibiting cars, just information.

    Drivers insisting on using the bridge are showing pushback, and this is the perfect form of protest.

    But people think it’s ok to shout at them, block them, etc.

    I fail to understand the hypocrisy.

    1. I continue to despair of the Ill disciplined attitude, whether it be from cyclists or motorists, in Mill Road, Cambridge. Quite probably many of the accidents in the Road in the past have been due to a selfish, undisciplined approach, which seems increasingly prevalent in Britain today!

      Whether road signage is ‘advisory’ or not, whether it is newly installed or not, its purpose is to inform the road user (which includes pedestrians), and to promote road safety in a potentially dangerous environment. For any such system to work effectively, every participant is needed to accept it, and realise that behaving selfishly only brings chaos and danger! There appears now to be an anarchical approach to almost everything, and no recognition of the tried and tested way in which the fundamental building blocks of the British System depend, one in which change is brought about by reasoned discussion and debate, not by every individual continually demanding change on a personal level in a self-motivated way; perhaps similar to spoilt teenagers who continuously coerce and manoeuvre to have what they want!

      Yours despairingly,

      Edward Jenkins.

      1. Post Script to my recent letter:-

        Although the chaotic and dangerous traffic situation prevailing at Mill Road Bridge is, in my opinion, mainly due to a selfish approach shown by some road users, this has been exacerbated by a County Council showing, through its tardiness and inability to coordinate, a lack of ‘fitness for purpose’. Some of this might be down to personnel with an inherent reluctance or inability to take on responsibility (‘The Buck Stops Here’ approach), but also surely, the concept of the ‘farming out’ of sections of any project, through complex contracts, to private companies who first and foremost operate by adherence to their own agendas, has to be a recipe making the completion of an urgent project quickly, a practical impossibility!

      2. This (your comment regarding anarchy and selfishness versus the tried and tested way) is of course absolutely right. Many of us recall and still purpose for the higher power of reasoning (one great man called the power of reasoning’man’s supreme inheritance’). But reasoning is about thinking of the whole and of everyone and everything and out of the box of our own selfishness. Then in terms of hoping for society (where people live and care for each other not each man for himself), extending that reasoning to objectively fair friendly discussion and mutual learning and greater awareness of the common good. If we take the ‘whole’ of everything out of our thinking and acting we are acting dumbly and for ourselves and others are doing the same back and everyone and everything suffers somehow. Anarchic lawlessness is a base way and not a high and noble way. If we do not like a law, or do not like a decision from elected authority, then we should ask properly, not selfishly, what is that law or decision for. If we then reasonably do not like it, we should discuss and learn and have humility to test our own opinions against reason and common good. If we still reasonably do not like something, then we should seek change through the orderly process that men and women died for between 1939 and 1945 and other brave acts of history for the common peace and good. Anarchic living is just selfish living and it does not work.

        R. Fergus R. McCausland, ex-resident of twenty years looking on.

  6. 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

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

    1. And there are no legally binding signs prohibiting traffic either.

      There is information, which is nothing more than guidance, but no signs.

  8. 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

  9. 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…

      2. Margaret, I am an ex-resident and lived there for twenty years. I observed increasingly in Cambridge a more and more selfish ignorant mind set by a significant number (certainly not everyone and I hope far from it). It became detestable frankly. I have moved away back to politer and much more socially aware region of our land and am relieved. I am in a bigger city and we have order and decency amongst people. Cambridge needs to get that back. I will not tell any where that is because I would hate the selfish behaviours to come here too.

  10. 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.

    1. I’ve reported that Vinery Rd obstruction before but, of course, there’s been no action taken.

      I think they are just sending us all a token acknowledgement email….who knows if they are binning our comments?

      I suggested that it would be safer if the obstruction were on the Kitchens side of the junction. Then cars coming out of Vinery Rd can still safely turn either R or L. Currently to turn left you have to cross onto the WRONG side of the road into oncoming traffic.

      Cars coming out of town don’t see there’s a junction at Vinery Rd and more often than not stop too late.

      They then block the junction for people coming into town, wanting to turn R into Vinery Rd.

      None of this would be a problem if they would only move that obstruction to the bridge side in front of the Kitchens shop.

      I wonder if it’s going to take a death to make the idiots who are imposing this on us wake up to their stupidity?

        1. I am at the end of my tether with trying to cope with other things, so I am afraid someone else will have to go down the road and take pictures should they have the time on their hands to do so……

          It looks remarkably similar to all the other obstructions on the road, not surprisingly. I have reported it 3 times now and am expecting to receive the auto-response in a day or two. All are worded identically, so obviously nobody is actually reading anything.

          They are not going to bother till the 6 months are over. Totally irresponsible of them, if someone has a serious accident meanwhile.

          Go down there and see for yourself!

      1. Here are a couple of photos of the Mill Road, Vinery Road junction to show what Veronica is commenting on.

        1. Thanks for doing that!

          Coming out of Vinery Rd to turn left is now very dangerous. This could be avoided by moving the obstructions to the Kitchens shop side.

          This would also stop traffic coming out of town on Mill Rd from blocking the access at Vinery Rd.

          Maybe the County doesn’t actually care about safety?

          It’s OK if we die in a horrible accident is it, just as long as it’s not the horrible Covid-19?

  11. 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.

  12. 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…

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

      1. In London the police have deployed policemen and fined drivers via video submitted on people’s phones. So this is entirely a possibility.

      2. Lord Drainlid would usually delegate this sort of task to Viscount Drainlid but he is still chained to a radiator in Newnham Co-op. Miss Cherry Hinton may oblige.

  16. 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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