From Risky Streets to ‘Living Streets’?

The Living Streets local street survey of Cambridge

In December 2020 and January 2121 Mill Road Bridges featured Pavement Survey – Living Streets and Pavement Survey – Update from the Cambridge Living Streets group.

The group’s report From Risky Streets to ‘Living Streets’? – The Living Streets local street survey of Cambridge (PDF) is now available online. Click the image below to read/download the report.

image: Living Streets Group Cambridge
Image courtesy of the Cambridge Living Streets group
The report’s author, Linda Jones. Photo: Cambridge News

Authored by Linda Jones, Emeritus Professor of Health, The Open University (also former Cambridgeshire County Councillor for Petersfield Division in Cambridge) the report highlights Cambridge residents’ dissatisfaction, with fewer than 6% happy with their experience as a pedestrian.

Table 3: Overall pedestrian experience
Are you generally happy with your experience as a pedestrian in Cambridge?
Overall YES 5.4%
Overall NO 62.9%
It Depends 31.6%

Nearly every respondent mentioned the state of the pavements themselves, with nearly 3/4 of respondents complaining about pavements blocked by parked vehicles. Cambridgeshire County Council have had powers for over a decade to tackle the issue of vehicles obstructing our pavements. And it wouldn’t put a penny on the council tax – enforcement would be self-financing as penalty charge revenue would help to pay the salaries of the existing enforcement officers.

See Protecting Pedestrian Space.

Table 4: Pavements: quality and obstructions % reporting
Pavements that are sloping, uneven, cracked or potholed 90.7%
Pavements blocked by parked vehicles 71.5%
Pavements blocked by waste bins 62.6%
Traffic signs and street furniture obstructing pavements 41.5%
Hedges protruding onto pavements 53%

Read/download the report From Risky Streets to ‘Living Streets’? – The Living Streets local street survey of Cambridge, here.

See also Living Streets Cambridge report says just 6% happy with conditions for pedestrians by Mike Scialom in the Cambridge Independent.

And don’t forget to contribute to the Living Streets organisation’s national Cut the Clutter! week of Action Monday 12th July – Sunday 18th July 2021 by mapping the pavement-clutter around your area. If you haven’t already done so, click here to start mapping your local pavement-clutter.

Mill Road Bridge bus gate opinion survey

Cambridge Labour Party have published a short survey to measure public opinions about the future of Mill Road.

view of Mill Road Bridge artwork
Image: Over Mill Road Bridge

Whilst Mill Road Bridges have no political affiliations, we would be wrong not to draw this survey to local residents’ attention. It is noteworthy that the Vice-Chair of the Cambridgeshire County Council Highways and Transportation Committee is now Councillor Gerri Bird (Labour, Chesterton Division). It would seem likely that Councillor Bird will have the results of the survey drawn to her attention.

Please fill it in – the result is likely to influence the way that Labour councillors vote in the Highways Committee on this issue.

Cambridge Labour

If, however, you would prefer to contact your local Cambridgeshire County Councillor directly their contact details may be found here:

This blogpost is also open for (polite) comments. We will contact Councillors Howitt and Shailer to ask that they monitor the post for comments, though we cannot guarantee that your comments will be seen, councillors being busy people not full-time public employees.

Bridge Protest

Cambridge Independent report – in the 14th July2021 edition – that campaigners connected to Mill Road Traders’ Association intend to ‘block the bridge completely’ on the morning of Saturday 24th July.

Piero d’Angelico is quoted as saying, “We will block the whole bridge and not even a bus will be allowed through this time.”

A protest in summer 2020 against the restrictions on Mill Road bridge (Image: Local Democracy Reporter, on the Cambridge News website)

Read the full report Blockade plan for protest on Mill Road bridge in Cambridge By Alex Spencer on the Cambridge Independent website.


Piero d’Angelico was approached for further details. He issued this statement:

We are finalising some posters with information, we will come back to you shortly.

Piero d’Angelico, Ambassador, Mill Road Traders’ Association

The anonymous Don’t Kill Mill Road Facebook page has these details and the accompanying image:

Last ditch attempt to try and persuade councillors to reopen Mill Road bridge to cars is being organised by the Mill Road traders whose livelihoods have been affected by the closure.

Show your support for Local independent shops and join them on the 24th July 2021 @ 11am – 2pm.

Also, please complete this survey set up by Cambridge Labour to gauge public opinion https://www.cambridgelabour.org.uk/mill-road-questionnaire/

Mill Road independent shops are at risk of closure if this bridge continues to be closed. Please share this event with your friends and family members.

Don’t Kill Mill Road Facebook page
Image with date and time as in quote, above

It is not known whether the protesters will attempt to physically prevent pedestrians and cyclists from using the bridge, or only the limited range of vehicles currently permitted to use the bridge.

These details are published here to enable those who support the aims of the protesters to join the protest. If you oppose the protesters, it might be better to avoid the bridge at the time of the protest and make your feelings known elsewhere.


This post is open for (polite) comments, whatever your view.

Cut the Clutter!

Week of Action Monday 12th July – Sunday 18th July 2021

The Living Streets organisation is hoping to map some of the obstructions that clutter our pavements throughout this week. Can you help to highlight the problems which pedestrians face in and around Mill Road?

This is a great opportunity to highlight some of the major barriers to safe walking, especially for wheelchair users and others with disabilities as well as for parents with buggies. Click here to start mapping your local pavement-clutter.

Photo as caption below
Black, green and blue wheelie-bins and ‘side waste’ block a narrow pavement, off Mill Road. Photo taken two days before blue bin collection, nine days ahead of black bin collection and 15 days before green bin collection.

If you can, please take some time, during the week, to record the locations of misplaced or broken street furniture and guard rails, A-boards cluttering narrow pavements, badly located bike racks, disused phone boxes, traffic signs or street lamps in the middle of pavements and other obstruction. Enter those details in the simple map provided, together with a photograph if you can take one.

However…
Traders are permitted to place sign-boards, produce stalls, tables and chairs on their forecourt area. Often the only way to distinguish between the footway and the forecourt is a line of paving blocks. Take a look at the annotated photo, below.

Photo showing footway and adjacent forecourt area on Mill Road, Cambridge
The cycle-stands and the two vehicles are pavement clutter. The produce stall, chairs and table are not, as they are on a shop forecourt.

We thank, David Stoughton, Chair, Living Streets Cambridge, for drawing this campaign to our attention.

Mill Road – The Future

Is the Mill Road community an undifferentiated block, who agree on everything? Far from it. That’s why we adopted (borrowed) the phrase Community of Communities. Gather half-a-dozen Mill Roaders in a meeting and you’ll generate a score of differing opinions.


We are pleased to see the establishment of a new website and group trying to create a positive vision for the future of Mill Road.

Mill Road – A Street for People is a group of Cambridge residents working on a non-partisan basis to seek consensus to get the best Mill Road for everyone.

Note Mill Road – A Street for People is not controlled by, nor aligned to Mill Road Bridges. We exist to foster debate about Mill Road and will draw attention to all websites, protests, opinion surveys and events concerning Mill Road which come to our attention, on whatever ‘side’ of any ‘argument’ they stand.

Photo of cyclist crossing Mill Road Bridge

It is a site which hosts a variety of (sometimes overlapping, sometimes conflicting) ideas.

This post is open to (polite) comments, and so is Mill Road – A Street for People.

There are endless discussions on Nextdoor, Facebook and Twitter, but not everyone has (or wants) an account on those social media. This site is open to all, as is Mill Road – A Street for People.


And what of the future?

Since June 2020 there have been restrictions on what traffic can lawfully use Mill Road Bridge – see Wider footways, barriers and bridge restrictions. Some claim that the restrictions are ‘killing’ Mill Road. Others point to the new businesses starting up in Mill Road as signs of change and growth. These include the Harvest Organic Supermarket, and the Eclipse Bakery on Romsey Broadway; whilst, on the Petersfield (city) side, Finn Boys Fish Butchery restaurant, a new Co-op, The Lads Piri-Piri, and another restaurant – Fancett’s – at 96A (Fabio’s former premises) have recently opened or are about to open.

Image street sign
MILL ROAD OPEN
SHOPS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
BRIDGE CLOSED TO THROUGH TRAFFIC
(EXCEPT FOR BUSES AND CYCLES)

Some want all restrictions on bridge traffic removed, to bring ‘passing trade’ back to Mill Road. Others insist that passing motor-traffic is just that. Passing. Not stopping. Not shopping. Would the return of the previous traffic congestion, air pollution and road traffic accidents be worth it for the alleged benefits to traders?

Can compromises be found?

Limited taxi access over the bridge? All taxis? Even the Wolverhampton-registered private hire vehicles operating in Cambridge?

Access for Blue Badge holders? Difficult as the Blue Badge is a parking permit, linked to an individual (driver or passenger) not a vehicle. But could a means be found?

Delivery vehicles to traders? Which ones? What times?

Some blame any drop in trade to the current restrictions on Mill Road Bridge, while others point out that Covid-related restrictions on shopping, eating out, and socialising have hit businesses across the city and the country.

Many have pointed out that it wasn’t traffic restrictions which led to the demise of the once mighty Cambridge and District Co-operative Society, nor to the failure of BHS, Debenhams, Top Shop, and many more; that every High Street, including Mill Road, has had changes of shops.

Doreen’s – The noted shop for coats – is long gone. As shopping preferences change, so do the shops.

Photo of former shop on Mill Road, Doreen's coats
Doreen’s – Courtesy of the Suzy Oakes Collection

To get a flavour of earlier discussions see the links at the foot of this post.


Let’s get the debate progressing.

This post is open to (polite) comments, and so is Mill Road – A Street for People.


And now for something completely different (but related)

Have you ever wondered why Mill Road has become the lucky host to Cambridge Central Mosque?

Could it be that, just as half-a-dozen Mill Roaders will generate a score of differing opinions. That’s exactly the same for Muslims?

Listen to Baroness Sayeeda Warsi on the subject of the ‘Muslim community’.

“You want to talk to me about Muslims, as if somehow they’re just one big monolithic block? You get two Muslims in a room you get six opinions.”

Sayeeda Warsi on Channel 4’s Stand Up and Deliver

If you haven’t seen the two programmes, they are well worth a watch, with (spoiler alert) Sayeeda Warsi a worthy winner, and Rev Richard Coles a commendable runner-up.

No wonder the Cambridge Central Mosque was built on Mill Road – an ideal place for a beautiful building and a continuing debate about the best future for the ‘Mill Road community’.


See also:

Pavement Survey – Update

In December Living Streets Cambridge piloted a survey on the state of the pavements using nextdoor.co.uk for the Petersfield ward. This was also posted, here, on this website. In January 2021 the group has produced a pilot stage report (PDF), a brief snapshot of responses taken from 98 returns.

A second report exploring the findings from Phase 1 and 2 dated 11/03/2021 has now been released. It can be read/downloaded here.

The most striking finding is that only a very tiny minority of respondents responded positively to the question: Are you generally happy with your experience as a pedestrian in Cambridge?

Are you generally happy with your experience as a pedestrian in Cambridge?
Overall YES n= 14 (5.78%)
Overall NO n=153 (63.22%)
It depends n=76 (31.40%)

This clearly highlights pedestrians’ experience that many pavements are in a bad state of repair and frequently blocked for one reason or another.

Mill Road was reported for its narrow sections of pavement which made wheelchair and pushchair access dangerous and for the numbers of parked vehicles obstructing the pavement.

The survey is still open, until the end of March 2021. If you haven’t already taken part, you can do so through this link.

With the current focus on active travel, this state of neglect has come into sharper focus and suggests that continued targeting of limited funds on improving the city centre may not be the best way to address the needs of many of Cambridge’s residents.  This point has been made to the planners in respect of Making Spaces for People which, whilst it has an admirable focus on reducing pollution, concentrates almost entirely on the city centre. Living Streets Cambridge will continue to seek to represent pedestrians on other City and County Council fora relevant to their needs.

The intention, now, is to extend the survey to wider areas of the city and if anyone can help with doing that, through residents associations, social media or posting on notice boards like nextdoor.co.uk for other wards, Living Streets Cambridge would be very grateful for the help. For the present this is limited to City Council wards ( and County divisions within the city boundaries) as far as possible, though at a later stage it might be extended to surrounding areas.

Please email the Living Streets Cambridge group by clicking this link if you feel able to assist in any way.

It’s early days for the revived Living Streets Cambridge group and help of all kinds is needed. I hope this small start enables us to gain some momentum and work to stimulate improvement.

David Stoughton,
For Living Streets Cambridge


In many residential areas of the city the environment for pedestrians remains challenging due to a combination of high traffic levels, narrow pavements and poor maintenance.

As investment in road maintenance has fallen away, footways have become increasingly dilapidated and dangerous.  It will take a significant, concerted effort to get this put right. 

The Living Streets Cambridge group is determined to provide a voice and a campaigning platform for pedestrians in the city, an imperative that has increased in importance since the pandemic struck and ‘active travel’ has become a greater focus of policy.

Living Streets Cambridge

You can email the Living Streets Cambridge group by clicking this link, and/or sign up for local group news, here.


Living Streets is a UK Charity – Registered Charity Nº 1108448 (England & Wales) SC039808 (Scotland) – “for everyday walking”.

Kerb it

By Charlotte de Blois

As we negotiate recent changes to Mill Road it has become apparent that drivers subconsciously behave differently along different stretches of the road. Picture one shows how three car drivers chose to pavement-park opposite a build out.

While further down the road on a narrower stretch of the road, Picture Two, shows how a driver uses the build-out as protection for his parked car and helpfully stays on the road.

This allows pedestrians to use the narrow pavement unimpeded.  Thank you grey car driver.

Pavement Survey – Living Streets

Mill Road and its surrounding streets – like much of Cambridge – suffer from pavements which offer a poor environment for pedestrians, particularly parents with toddlers, and people with disabilities.

The Living Streets Cambridge group was set up to tackle Cambridge’s poorly-maintained pavements – pavements which are cracked and rutted, causing trip hazards and puddles to form, with poorly-sited street furniture adding to the pedestrian obstacle-course…

Rainwater conduit with eroded screed covering, uneven, subsided brick and flag paving, highway signage obstructions, 91 Mill Road CB1 2AW

Overgrown hedges create further obstacles as do wheelie-bins left permanently on the pavement. Living Streets Cambridge believe that these obstacles should be tackled, too.

Black, green and blue wheelie-bins and ‘side waste’ block a narrow pavement, off Mill Road. Photo taken two days before blue bin collection, nine days ahead of black bin collection and 15 days before green bin collection.

Too little action has been taken to address these issues, in part because no register exists to identify all of the problems and bring them to the attention of the highway authority (Cambridgeshire County Council) and City Council (responsible for refuse and recycling collections).

Unregulated pavement parking adds to the problem, blocking pavements and contributing to further cracking, rutting and subsidence, despite Cambridgeshire County Council being granted powers to tackle this nearly a decade ago. Read more about those powers here.

Little room for pedestrians, when this delivery-driver prioritises vehicular traffic. Note, too, the damage to the kerbs and paving-stones.

As a first step towards tackling these issues, Living Streets are conducting a short survey to identify where problems exist and catalogue them by type. The survey can be found here.

Readers can help Living Streets Cambridge by taking the time to complete the survey, giving as much detail about problems and locations as possible.

And please let friends, neighbours, and others who may be interested, know about the survey, by forwarding the link to the survey, or this blogpost to them.


Living Streets is a UK Charity – Registered Charity Nº 1108448 (England & Wales) SC039808 (Scotland) – “for everyday walking”.

We want a nation where walking is the natural choice for everyday local journeys.

Our mission is to achieve a better walking environment and inspire people to walk more.

Progress starts here: one street, one school, one step at a time. Read our three year strategy to find out more about our vision, mission and values.

Living Streets > About Us > Our organisation

Living Streets Cambridge add…

In many residential areas of the city the environment for pedestrians remains challenging due to a combination of high traffic levels, narrow pavements and poor maintenance.

As investment in road maintenance has fallen away, footways have become increasingly dilapidated and dangerous.  It will take a significant, concerted effort to get this put right. 

The Living Streets Cambridge group is determined to provide a voice and a campaigning platform for pedestrians in the city, an imperative that has increased in importance since the pandemic struck and ‘active travel’ has become a greater focus of policy.

Living Streets Cambridge

You can email the Living Streets Cambridge group by clicking this link, and/or sign up for local group news, here.

Mill Road Bridge Restrictions

What are the next steps? When will the scheme be reviewed?

Consultation

We invite comments on the closure of Mill Road Bridge to all vehicles except buses, cycles and pedestrians. Please send your comments by email to [redacted as the consultation is now closed – Web Editor]

The first six months of the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) are the consultation stage during which we record all feedback.

A survey runs between 12 noon on Monday 9 November until 23:59 on 24 December 2020 to offer an additional opportunity for people to have their say on the changes and their impact on Mill Road.

We will collate all feedback, whether from emails, letters or the survey and present it to the Highways and Transport Committee when they make their decision on whether to continue the trial, make the changes permanent or to re-open the bridge to motorists.

Mill Road Bridge trial road closure, Cambridgeshire County Council website

Note the closure date of the consultation; Christmas Eve. As Monday 28th is a public holiday; the earliest that all of the comments could begin to be considered and collated would be on Tuesday 29th December 2020.

Readers who have completed the survey themselves will note that there were quite a few sections with space for ‘free expression’ of ideas. These will take some time to assess and aggregate.

The Highways and Transport Committee will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday 19th January 2021 at 10:00. Click here for meeting details. There is no further information at the time of writing but, if readers keep returning to it, they will, eventually, find a full agenda pack for the meeting published in PDF format to read/download. In amongst that will be a summary of all of the feedback on the Mill Road scheme.

The full calendar of County Council meetings can be viewed here.

It will be quite a tight timescale for Cambridgeshire County Council’s officers to compile a report for the Highways and Transport Committee.

The full membership of the Highways and Transport Committee, including substitutes for those unable to attend, is here.

As for members of the public ‘attending’ (virtually)…

To help people follow the debates at Cambridgeshire County Council we are live web streaming on YouTube our Council meetings. You can also follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #CCCmtgs.

Council meetings Live Web Stream, Cambridgeshire County Council website

We hope this information is of help, to all of our readers and subscribers, whether for or against the scheme, or (like most people) wanting some limitations but not these exact ones.


This blogpost is open for (polite) comments.

Traders Threaten legal Action over Bridge Restrictions

Mill Road Traders’ Association is considering legal action over the Mill Road bridge traffic restrictions, introducing a ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ on the basis that the scheme is not truly ‘experimental’.

The allegation of illegality

In a press release, dated 12 December 2020, Mill Road Traders’ Association claim that:

The county council had no lawful authority to implement the Mill Road closure through an experimental traffic regulation order because the order violates section 9(1) of the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984, which requires that an experimental order may only be made for a valid experimental purpose.

Shapour Meftah, Cantab Millennium, Chairman Mill Road Traders’ Association

Unfortunately, the Traders’ Association’s own website has not been updated with details of their latest action, however a PDF of the Mill Road Traders’ Association press release can be read/downloaded here. A useful summary was published in the Cambridge Independent.

Traders claim that the order to close Mill Road bridge to to all traffic except cycles and buses was “illegal” – and they have demanded that Cambridgeshire County Council reopens it immediately.

Alex Spencer, Cambridge Independent, 14 December 2020 (Click to view full article)

Interviews on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

On Tuesday 15 December 2020, traders Abdul Arain (al:Amin), Sheila Gresham (Cambridge Antiques Centre) and Patty (Gwydir Street Hive) were interviewed by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire journalist Sarah Varey. Breakfast show presenter Andy Lake asked City Councillor Dave Baigent (Romsey, Labour) for a response.

Click below to hear the clip.

We noted that Abdul Arain, felt threatened by lorries and buses when cycling. We wondered about this and asked County Councillor Linda Jones, who responded:

We have always had lorry traffic in the Petersfield stretch of Mill Rd and any new development will generate a temporary increase. Lorry drivers can sometimes  be inconsiderate but I have had few complaints – and none about buses at all. 

County Councillor Linda Jones (Petersfield, Labour)

The legislation & Statutory Guidance

Readers can study the relevant sections of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 here. See also the Statutory Guidance from the DfT.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has had a terrible impact on the lives and health of many UK citizens, as well as severe economic consequences. But it also resulted in cleaner air and quieter streets, transforming the environment in many of our towns and cities.

And millions of people have discovered, or rediscovered, cycling and walking. In some places, the initial lockdown period saw a 70% rise in the number of people on bikes – for exercise, or for safe, socially distanced travel.

We need people to carry on cycling, and to be joined by millions more , particularly while public transport capacity is still reduced.

And millions of people have discovered, or rediscovered, cycling and walking. In some places, the initial lockdown period saw a 70% rise in the number of people on bikes – for exercise, or for safe, socially distanced travel.

We need people to carry on cycling, and to be joined by millions more , particularly while public transport capacity is still reduced…

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…

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, foreword to the to the Statutory Guidance from the DfT.

Emergency legislation came into force on 23 May 2020 to temporarily amend:
The Road Traffic (Temporary Restrictions) Procedure Regulations 1992
The Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996
The Secretary of State’s Traffic Order (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1990

The amendments introduce an emergency procedure for the making of temporary traffic orders. The main change is to the means of advertising the order, which can be via digital means. Once the order has been made, a second notice still needs to be published for information within 14 days. This is via a newspaper, where these are available, or via digital means if it is not reasonably practicable to publish in a newspaper.

Statutory Guidance from the DfT.

Further information on TROs, TTROs, ATTROs and ETROs can be studied in BRIEFING PAPER, Number CBP 6013, 11 June 2020, Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) from the House of Commons Library.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s scheme documentation

Cambridgeshire County Council issued a press release in June 2020 stating:

The Government has given authorities funding through the Combined Authority, to deliver pop-up cycle lanes, wider pavements, safer junctions and bus-only corridors. The Council has worked closely with city and district councils to prepare a list of schemes to get more people walking and cycling…

Cambridgeshire County Council – Cycling and walking support in midst of pandemic (click to read the full press release)

The official documentation for the Mill Road ETRO can be read/downloaded here:

The PDF of the full range of proposals discussed at the council’s Highways and Transport committee meeting on 16th June 2020 can be read/downloaded here.

Legal action & similar cases

Speaking yesterday, Tuesday 15 December 2020, Piero d’Angelico claimed that the Mill Road Traders’ Association are advised by a barrister that ‘a judge had overturned’ a similar experimental scheme in London. It was unclear from the conversation which scheme had been ‘overturned’, nor the precise action which the Mill Road Traders’ Association planned. We assume that this would be a High Court application for judicial review. We have found a number of such applications, which we list below.


The publication of this post by Mill Road Bridges should not be considered an endorsement of the views of Mill Road Traders’ Association. Neither should this statement be read as one of opposition to their views. Our mission is to facilitate information and debates about all matters affecting Cambridge’s Mill Road. This post is open for (polite) comments.