Mill Road Bridge – Disentangling the issues

Nina Lübbren, Romsey, published this measured and sensible comment elsewhere on an invitation-only social network. It is reproduced here with Nina’s permission.

At this point, I feel it would be useful to disentangle several issues about the Mill Road bridge closure.

  1. The lack of consultation. Probably most of us would have preferred more consultation but also understand why no consultation took place (because of government requiring immediate action).
  2. The need for social distancing. We can probably all agree that it is vital to enable social distancing for anybody crossing the bridge. Pedestrians have to step onto the road to keep a distance. Cyclists have to cycle in the middle of the road to keep a distance. People in cars are protected from the air outside but are faced with pedestrians and cyclists on the road. This was not a safe scenario.
  3. Decreased traffic; less pollution. A separate issue to 1. and 2. As with last year’s closure of the bridge, the decrease of pollution and traffic (and possible moving of this pollution and traffic elsewhere) is a side-effect of the closure of the bridge. Neither last year’s or this year’s closure was effected in order to address pollution. A joined-up urban planning measure with due consultation and a gathering of statistical data (pollution levels etc) needs to be undertaken in order to address this.
  4. Adverse effect on traders. This can be linked to 1. above but does not affect 2.
  5. Accessibility. For those who cannot cross the bridge by bike or on foot, there will need to be provision made, and quickly. Again, this is linked to 1. but now that the urgency of immediate action has passed, I would hope that the [Cambridgeshire County] Council puts measures in place to address both 2. and 5.

Nina Lübbren, Romsey

See also:

Do you have views about the measures which Cambridgeshire County Council are taking? How is it working so far… for you? Whatever your view, as long as it is expressed politely, you can add your comments below. Or on many of the posts above.


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Tim Pilkington
Tim Pilkington
1 December 2020 17:32

Today I spotted a large council refuse collection lorry, an HGV, about to cross the bridge, which is neither a bus, bicycle, ambulance or other emergency service, so I stopped it to ask if it had an exemption. Apparently it does, and so, according to the driver, do most Cambridge City Council vehicles.

So it’s one rule for them, and another rule for us. They seem to be keeping quiet about this though, I don’t see the signs saying cycles, bus, and council vehicles.

pamela wesson
24 August 2020 01:22

Thank you for publishing the link to the Welwyn story–

Arthur Norman
Arthur Norman
23 August 2020 11:21

Today’s (Sunday) Telegraph has a headline:

Grant Shapps intervenes after his green traffic policy creates ‘ghost town’ in his own constituencySunday Telegraph 23.08.2020

reporting of road restrictions that at first sight look like quite close relatives of the ones now in force on Mill Road bridge. The local paper – Welwyn Hatfield Times – has both a report of the campaign to lift them and of its success.

Both are well worth a read.
– Mill Road Bridges web editor

Among other things it notes that the claim that narrowing the road will enable social distanching and so reduce covid spread is a little at odds with public health statements about the rareness of outdoor transmission – a point which will surely apply to all the “experimental” road closures around Cambridge.

Perhaps some of those who are really local to Mill Road not just people like me about to be inconvenienced by different parts of the closure policy should contact Welwyn to collect full comparitive details and see if restrictions can only be lifted if you are in the constituency of the minister who set up the scheme!


Mick Brown
Mick Brown
Reply to  Arthur Norman
23 August 2020 21:50

It seems fairly clear that the Welwyn scheme is similar to what was originally planned for Mill Road – a one-way road-narrowing system. Cambs CC replaced it with the bus gate on the bridge, in my opinion after pressure from Camcycle and local county councillors as it fitted with their long term ambitions for pedestrianization.

The MP, Daniel Zeichner spoke up against the lack of consultation at first but has kept quiet since. There is no political representation for anyone opposing the scheme because councillors on both councils are either for it or are simply keeping quiet.

There is a lot of talk about health but this doesn’t seem very healthy to me.

Martin L-S
Martin L-S
Reply to  Mick Brown
31 October 2020 18:46

Yet again you misrepresent others’ views deliberately.

Camcycle has never pushed for pedestrianisation. How on earth would that work with so many sideroads?

You can see a clear statement on its website to this effect.

“We have never suggested full pedestrianisation of Mill Road and do not think this is appropriate. Car, delivery and cycle access is still required. Our Mill Road vision from 2018 sets out the types of changes we have campaigned for over the last few years.”

See: Camcycle – Recent Changes to Mill Road – Our Views FAQ

13 August 2020 12:55

I am writing to express my views regarding the closure of Mill Road bridge.

I care for my elderly mother full-time. We often shop along Mill Road, my mum is a blue badge holder. Since the closure we no longer go to Mill Road as to reach the other side you have to go all the way around. We now go elsewhere. I grew up on Mill Road, I was born at Mill Road Maternity Hospital, 50 years ago, my mum has shopped on Mill Road for 64 years.

Why should my mum no longer be able to shop on Mill Road when it is so close to us but now inaccessible? Why should cyclists be more important than the elderly, the disabled, the doctors, carers, delivery drivers, traders, and workers? It’s even more upsetting knowing that they have their own dedicated cycle bridge which cost
£2 million.

It has also made the traffic much worse on all the other roads.

The reason we have been given is that it is to help social distancing. I don’t believe that for one second. I think the pandemic has been used as an excuse to get government funding to pedestrianise Mill Road. The chicanes are lethal and Mill Road is now unrecognisable and dangerous. It has become a dead, soulless place that looks like a race track. It has lost it’s wonderful, vibrant, uniqueness.

Are we not supposed to be getting the economy going instead of sending the traders out of business?

Isn’t it illegal to discriminate against the elderly and disabled who can now no longer travel along Mill Road?

11 August 2020 23:06

Born and lived in Cambridge most of that time. Cycle everywhere (of course!) and for the first time ever am nervous cycling up Mill Road.

Being slung into oncoming traffic in some sort of slalom catastrophe is just not fun. Is it my imagination or are drivers more frustrated and therefore less considerate? Certainly traffic as bad as ever … just more confusing now.

I love Cambridge and would love to see less unnecessary cars and pollution but this feels like a bandwagon full of thoughtlessness and carelessness likely to do more harm than good.

Alex Brown
Alex Brown
8 August 2020 17:39

It’s not entirely right to say this closure was not done to reduce traffic/pollution. The statutory guidance Cambs CC was responding to makes clear “greener” and “safer” considerations are in play for the long view:

“The government therefore expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. Such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel … I urge you all … to make sure you do what is necessary to ensure transport networks support recovery from the COVID-19 emergency and provide a lasting legacy of greener, safer transport.”

With this is mind I think an added point 6 should be added to Nina Lübbren’s 5: “Active travel”. To what extent does this closure change people’s behaviour, reduce local cars journeys and get people into the habit of travelling actively instead? How can Mill Rd have a legacy that is both safer and greener?