Wider footways, barriers and bridge restrictions


Temporary cycling and walking measures are being put in place across Cambridgeshire during the Coronavirus crisis to help people get out and socially distance during this pandemic.

One of the first schemes is Mill Road, Cambridge, where from Wednesday, 24th June work started to widen footways using temporary barriers. Where footpaths have been widened, the road will be narrowed and there will only be sufficient carriageway width to allow one vehicle past at a time, so give-way features will be introduced at each section of widened footway.

Mill Road Bridge has been closed to all vehicles except buses and cyclists, the closure will be enforced by signs and automatic number plate recognition cameras.

Many of Cambridgeshire County Council’s schemes are being authorised under Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (ETRO) which will be in place for 18 months.

The first six months of each ETRO will be a consultation period.

You can give feedback either via email at:
or in writing to:
Policy and Regulation Team
Highways Depot
Stanton Way
PE29 6PY

Pavement widening and the bridge closure could be made permanent. Alternatively, more permanent measures could be considered.

The information above is taken from the Cambridgeshire County Council’s press release, which you can read here: Cycling and walking support in midst of pandemic. 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. It should be noted that this scheme (and others throughout the county) are subject to Statutory Guidance from the DfT.

The official documentation can be read/downloaded here:

One rumour needs to be put to rest immediately. There is NO plan to make Mill Road a one-way road in whole or in part.
This idea was mooted at one point, but it was removed at the request of Mill Road’s county councillors – Linda Jones (Petersfield) and Noel Kavanagh (Romsey).

We were surprised that this was ever on the agenda as the Cambridgeshire County Council’s own paper Improving the local highway – Route management – Close road to through traffic says of one-way streets, inter alia:

If a road is currently a narrow two way street where motor vehicles need to slow down to pass each other, changing the road to a one way street will increase vehicle speeds. Vehicle drivers may also be tempted to drive faster because they do not expect any oncoming vehicles.

If motor vehicles speeds increase, this will reduce how safe the road is.

Improving the local highway – Route management – Close road to through traffic, Cambridgeshire County Council [Undated, accessed 21/06/2020]

We enquired as to where the idea was mooted…

It appears to be a hang-over from last summer’s gas-main works along Mill Road (simultaneous with the bridge works) when there was a suggestion that to ease the gas-main works there should be one-way traffic along the Petersfield (city end) section of Mill Road. This was dropped as likely to create more problems than it solved.

The question was asked, within county highways, whether this would be a useful element for the Covid-related Experimental Traffic Regulation Order.

Mill Road’s ‘Community of Communities’ have the two local Cambridgeshire County Councillors – Councillor Linda Jones, Petersfield, and Councillor Noel Kavanagh, Romsey – to thank for ‘having our backs’ on this, both insisting that bus service provision must be at the heart of any scheme for Mill Road.

Walkability, Rideability, Liveability…

Smarter Cambridge Transport have useful background information in this post – Reducing Traffic Congestion and Pollution in Urban Areas – from 12th December 2016.

Shopping and cycling – the evidence | Cycling Embassy of Great Britain also has a wealth of information. (Thanks to commenter ‘Wookey’ for this link. Read the full comment here.)

Living Streets published The pedestrian Pound The business case for better streets and places (PDF) in 2018. This was a update on the identically entitled The pedestrian pound The business case for better streets and places (PDF) commissioned from Just Economics five years earlier.

This report presents evidence that investment in better streets and places delivers quantifiable commercial returns. Businesses, residents, developers and visitors all benefit from investment in the public realm and walkability.

Promoting walking and cycling now underpins much national and local policy, with a strong evidence base showing the benefits for health, air quality and the wider environment. Active travel also complements efforts to revive high streets and create liveable, vibrant communities. Although walking and cycling infrastructure requires less comparative investment, it has generally been treated as the ‘poor relation’ of infrastructure spending and is still often an afterthought in urban planning. At a time when public resources are scarce, improvements to streets should be attractive to governments seeking high returns from public spending.

The business and commercial case for investing in walkability remains a challenging area within which to make robust claims about commercial returns. This is largely due to the absence of evaluations at the post-build or post-intervention stage. Five years on from the publication of The Pedestrian Pound hard, quantitative assessments remain very rare.

Does investment in the public realm and walkability create additional commercial benefits? There is a growing body of qualitative and case study evidence which, when evaluated alongside the available quantitative data, shows public realm investments deliver significant, cost-effective benefits to consumers and businesses.

‘The pedestrian Pound The business case for better streets and places’ (PDF) Living Streets, 2018

Whilst CityMetric adds a note of caution: Everyone loves pedestrianisation – but what if it made all retail districts look the same?

Camcycle are very much in favour…

There is an excellent question and answer explainer on the Cambridge Cycling Campaign website – County council approves bold plan to help more people cycle and walk safely during the pandemic recovery.

Extinction Rebellion add their views

Camcycle and Extinction Rebellion back Mill Road’s active travel changes – report in the Cambridge Independent, by Mike Scialom.

The plans include the closure of Mill Road Bridge to private motor vehicles, a step that many residents have requested for some time. Currently, it is impossible to socially distance while walking or cycling down the road, especially once on the bridge, yet doing so is crucial to containing the coronavirus pandemic. Lockdown cannot be eased safely without taking extra measures such as this.

Extinction Rebellion Cambridge (XRC) quoted in the Cambridge Independent

However, Mill Road Traders Association are far from happy…

Traders reacted with shock after a surprise decision by Cambridgeshire County Council that Mill Road bridge in Cambridge will close next week to all traffic except bikes and buses.

Alex Spencer, Cambridge Independent

Read the full report – Traders alarmed by Mill Road bridge traffic plan – with quotes from Piero d’Angelico, Abdul Arain, and local county councillors, Linda Jones, and Noel Kavannagh, here.

And from the Cambridge news – Mill Road at war as bridge graffitied in car ban protest while others say yes to closure.

The Mill Road Traders’ Association does not, as yet, have campaigning posts, nor a petition on their website. We are in touch with the traders representatives, and will link to anything they publish.

The Mill Road Traders’ Association organised a protest, closing off Mill Road Bridge. Click through for links to full reports and videos.

Mill Road Traders' Association protest poster
Click the banner to go to reports and videos of the protest

The positioning of some barriers isn’t well-thought-out…

Annotated photo from Arjuna wholefoods co-operative

This has prompted us to publish a separate post – How is it working so far… – looking at barrier positioning, pavement safety and the problems on Mill Road Bridge. It is ironic that measures to increase space for pedestrians, leads to pavements being blocked by vehicles. This is, as another trader pointed out to us, “An accident waiting to happen.”

It is noteworthy, though, that Arjuna have long been pulling their vehicles onto the pavemen for loading/unloading. They have said that it “helps the traffic” Unfortunately it prioritise drivers of motor vehicles over pedestrians, including their own customers.

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 James Youd, Labour Organiser has started a petition to Cambridgeshire County Council, opposing the closure. Read more

How to help blue badge holders

It’s complicated, as A lifeline for blue badge holders on Mill Road bridge? – a report in the Cambridge Independent, by Mike Scialom reveals.

Blue badges belong to individuals, regardless of whether they are a car drivers or not. They can be used by friends and relatives when giving the blue badge holder a lift etc. So they aren’t tied to a car, but an individual, so not sure how easy access would be given…

blue badge holder Suzanne Morris, quoted in the Cambridge Independent

Read the full article here.

We have received a long and detailed comment, from Margaret, which deserves to be widely read. Find it here in the comments section.

James Youd, Secretary of Unite the Union Cambridge Community branch, together with Cambridge City Councillor, and former mayor,Gerri Bird have started this petition – Stop Road Closures – Cut Cambridge congestion through action.

Over Mill Road Bridge are in support…

For those who support the proposals, the Over Mill Road Bridge website – a campaigning organisation set up in 2018 by Romsey Labour Party – have posted County Council Proposes Covid-19 Safety Changes to Mill Road, in which they say:

Following our campaign to make Mill Road safer during the Covid-19 epidemic, we’re pleased to see Cambridgeshire County Council has now proposed a number of changes. These include the closure of Mill Road to most motor vehicles at the bridge.

Paul, Over Mill Road Bridge

There is also a form to ‘send a supportive message to the County Council’.

Need for signage to help traders…

Will Mill Road have clear signage at both ends? It is essential that Cambridgeshire County Council install something appropriate, like this…

We contacted our local Cambridgeshire County Councillors.

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
Suggested signage:

Do you have views about the measures which Cambridgeshire County Council are taking? Whatever your view, as long as it is expressed politely, you can add your comments at the foot of this blogpost.

Mill Roaders’ own ways of expressing their views…

Slogans have been sprayed on the carriageway. Whilst the slogans are a little cryptic, they would appear to express opposition to the plan to limit the bridge to cyclists, pedestrians and buses.

This slogan has appeared on the Petersfield (city) side…
… Whilst this is on the Romsey side.
And, this being Mill Road there are a variety of viewpoints…
This slogan, on the Petersfield side, has appeared on the reverse of the highways sign, below…

There is no doubt that this graffitist is in favour of restricting traffic over the bridge. As is this one, on the Romsey side…

On the front…
… and on the rear.
And on Ditchburn Place railings.

Cambridge Independent have a report on the on-road graffiti – Mill Road spray painted with protest messages – though Alex Spencer seems to have missed the hand-drawn and hand-written graffiti in support of the Cambridgeshire County Council plans. We have contacted Alex to let him know. (And, no, neither the on-road nor the on-sign graffiti were from our organisation, nor the website manager in a personal capacity.)

Freddie Lynne of Cambridge News produced this road-up of views – Mill Road at war as bridge graffitied in car ban protest while others say yes to closure

Ill thought-out?

Cambridge’s MP Daniel Zeichner is reported as calling the scheme “ill thought-out” and condemning the county council for failing to consult the public beforehand.

I know that the county council are keen to spend the money they have been given by government but a rush-job is not going to give us the best outcome.

We need a scheme that works for everyone and which respects the unique character of Mill Road. Mill Road will not be the same if traders are pushed out of the city and we lose independent shops that have been hit with one crisis after another.

Daniel Zeichner MP quoted by Alex Spencer, Cambridge Independent

The money is part of the government’s ‘emergency active travel fund’, and must be used within eight weeks. As we are in the middle of a pandemic, we are working on these projects quickly and closely with the city and district councils. However, these measures are only temporary and people will have the opportunity to feedback to us. We will listen to all feedback, including that from shop owners, local residents, cyclists and those that worship on Mill Road.

Cllr Ian Bates, Chairman of the Highways and Transport Committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, quoted by Alex Spencer, Cambridge Independent

Read Alex’s full report – Mill Road bridge closure ‘ill thought-out’ says Cambridge MP.

There has been much comment, recently, in national news media, of central government decisions made ‘on the hoof’ and drafted ‘on the back of a fag-packet’.

To be fair, safeguarding measures which would not be delivered until (say) December after prolonged consultation would be about as much use as a chocolate teapot. (Other metaphors are available, if you area on a low-carb, low sugar diet.)

It is also worth noting that local councils (of whatever political complexion) frequently complain of initiative-itis from central government (of whatever political complexion) of inadequate funding and inadequate revenue-raising powers.

Whatever your view, as long as it is expressed politely, you can add your comments at the foot of this blogpost.

Protecting Pedestrian Space

Our website manager adds, in a personal view…

Whilst the proposals to allow more pedestrian space are welcome, there appears to have been no mention of protecting pedestrian space in Mill Road, East Road, nor elsewhere.

Why does no Experimental Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting pavement parking appear to be under consideration?

Pavement parking is a menace in ‘normal’ times – particularly, but not exclusively, to people with disabilities, physical, visual, auditory or hidden, to young children, and it is wrecking Mill Road’s pavements, which were not designed to carry vehicular traffic. There is, indeed, aggressive driving onto the footway.

An Experimental Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting pavement parking would help pedestrians keep their distance during this pandemic. It would also give lasting benefit to residents and traders.

And Cambridgeshire County Council have had powers to deal with this for over nine years.

Councils with civil parking enforcement powers (including Cambridgeshire County Council) were given ‘special authorisation’ in February 2011 by the (then) Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Norman Baker, to prohibit parking on footways and verges, wherever they considered it necessary. This would be through a traffic regulation order (TRO, or ETRO).

Read/download a PDF of Norman Baker’s original letter here. A text-only PDF is available here.

There would be no ongoing cost to council tax payers.

Enforcement would be self-financing as penalty charge revenue would help to pay the salaries of the existing enforcement officers.

Currently, enforcement officers need to wait to investigate the reasons why a vehicle is waiting (eg lawful loading/unloading or unlawful ‘Just popping into the shop’ waiting). Drivers know that they can come out our the shop or take-away say, “Sorry, I’m just going,” and get away with this misuse of pavements, time and time again.

At the present time, outside of Greater London, parking on the footway is not unlawful. But driving on the pavement is. Spotted the obvious logical flaw?

However, where a pavement parking prohibition is in place, it is breached the instant a vehicle mounts the footway, for whatever reason. Enforcement officers could issue an immediate Penalty Charge Notice.

It is my belief that Cambridgeshire County Council should introduce an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting pavement parking along the length of Mill Road, where the footways are subjected to such abuse, and on East Road (which is particularly prevalent around the burger outlet).

There may well be other areas around Cambridge where similar ETROs would be of benefit.

Peterborough, which is a Unitary Authority brought in a city-wide Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting pavement parking in 2017. Although this is a Conservative-led authority, it was proposed by Labour councillors and gained multi-party support. The clever thing they did was to bring in a overarching Traffic Regulation Order and leave implementation to be a matter for discussion where local communities, or the emergency services requested it, or it was otherwise seen as essential.

A Unitary Authority means that Peterborough City Council have all of the responsibilities which, in Cambridge are split between Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.

Peterborough City Councillor Richard Ferris, Labour member for Park ward, said:

“It’s unusual when you get cross-party support like we did at the meeting. It’s a massive issue in Park ward. It’s up there as one of the top half-a-dozen issues people contact me on.”

[Peterborough Today: Peterborough drivers face fines for parking on roadside verges or pavements]

More on Peterborough’s scheme…

Perhaps Cambridgeshire County Council are waiting for central government to introduce a national ban throughout England (save for permitted exceptions, such as in various Romsey side-streets). Despite having their own powers.

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee discussed this in September 2019. The Chair at that time, Lilian Greenwood MP, said:

“Pavement parking has a huge impact on people’s lives and their ability get around their communities. […] evidence to our inquiry revealed the impact on those with visual and mobility impairments and people with children.

“We are deeply concerned that the Government has failed to act on this issue, despite long-standing promises to do so. This is a thorny problem that may be difficult to resolve to the satisfaction of all, but the Government’s inaction has left communities blighted by unsightly and obstructive pavement parking and individuals afraid or unable to leave their homes or safely navigate the streets.”

Read more about the September 2019 discussions on parliament.uk.

See also the earlier blogpost: Pavement Parking along Mill Road.

Time passes…

On 12th March 2020 it was announced: The Government is to run a consultation about a national ban on pavement parking following the Transport Committee’s 2019 influential inquiry and report. [parliament.uk]

The Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said:

“I am pleased the Government has taken on board the previous Committee’s concerns about the very real difficulties presented by pavement parking and our proposed solutions. […]

“However, we have to now deliver this change. The Government promised to look into the issue in 2015 but consultations, roundtable events and internal reviews failed to lead to any actions to improve the experience of the public. This Government has signalled an intent to finally deliver change. We now need a detailed timeframe from the Department for Transport to ensure this happens.

“In publishing today’s Response, we are putting the Government on notice that we will be monitoring progress carefully. We look forward to reviewing progress on each of the pledges and our Committee has committed to a further evidence session in 12 months’ time to drive real change.”

But Cambridgeshire County Council has had powers to prohibit this menace since February 2011. What are we waiting for?

Do you have views about the measures which Cambridgeshire County Council are taking? Would you like to walk along a vehicle-free pavement? Whatever your view, as long as it is expressed politely, you can add your comments below.

See also these related posts:

207 thoughts on “Wider footways, barriers and bridge restrictions”

  1. I’ve noticed the comments, both for and against the bridge closure, fall into 2 categories:

    Matters of convenience and lifestyle, including slow traffic, unappealing cycling, packed pavements, etc.

    And matters of forcing people to go bankrupt, move home, and generally pay for this by ruining their lives.

    And yet, when businesses owners protest about this they’re told it won’t be as bad as they think it will be, they can object during the months this trail runs and just keep losing trade while doing so, and the rest of it.

    No, this is nonsense and unfair. If you were told you face the very real possibility of losing your home, your job, and your savings, cos of ‘bikes’ or whatever, I suspect most people would suddenly be far more anti road closure.

    Instead of forcing this through and decimating the lives of some of us, at least offer some form of compensation.

    Can’t afford it? Then tax everyone in the Mill Road bridge catchment area who votes to close the bridge, and use that to compensate people who are forced to sell up.

    1. I think there is a lot of motivated reasoning taking place over this whole issue, with “the traders” being deployed as some kind of presumed trump card in the debate. However, there are many factors to consider:

      There is no evidence what effect the bridge restrictions will have on trade. Increasing it? decreasing it? by a lot? or by a little? or will it effect different shops in different ways? short-term? long-term? We simply don’t know – and likely never will because even with good data it will be impossible to disentangle the “bridge effect” from the “COVID effect”.

      The presumed “cost” to the traders is only one of the costs in play. While we don’t know the effect of reduced motor traffic on trade, we do know that air pollution has an adverse impact on people’s health. I think (in particular) children’s health is a major factor in the debate, above money. The community does not owe motorists an unrestricted ability to drive through it at the expense of its health.

      The community does not owe the traders a living. The shops are businesses and should rise or fall depending on how well they do at offering the community (and beyond) what it wants to spend money on. It is only natural that a high street sees churn in its shops and while we have some great shops on Mill Road, I think anybody who thinks it’s some kind of perfection that must be preserved at all costs, must have some very strongly rose-tinted spectacles!

      1. Alex Brown, you cannot separate “the traders” from “the community”.

        You seem to be talking about them as though they were separate species, and with extraordinary insensitivity.

        You may think you are being rational and objective, but have you not noticed that many of the traders ARE the local community?

        So it doesn’t matter if the livelihoods of friends and neighbours goes to the wall, does it?

        Would you rather see all sorts of impersonal, stereotyped, predictable stores open along Mill Road which maybe have a stronger buffer against adversity?

        How very dull.

        1. Would you rather see all sorts of impersonal, stereotyped,
          predictable stores

          No we should have the best shops, that best suit the shoppers. This will change over time no?

        2. The traders are the community. Indeed.

          Al-Amin fund quite a few things, some obviously, some behind-the-scenes. Piero (hairdresser) is a powerhouse of organisation. And local estate agents put significant funding into (for example) the Mill Road Winter Fair.

      2. Alex you make rather sweeping references about health, and children’s health – all very emotive.

        The current scheme is displacing traffic from one road (Mill Road) into other surrounding roads (Brooks Road, Perne Road, Coldhams Lane, Newmarket Road, East Road, Gonville Place, Hills Road, Cherry Hinton Road, Perne Road, as well as many of the smaller residential roads off Mill Road).

        The sum total of this traffic disruption is more congestion and more pollution, there is just less of it in Mill Road and more in the others. In all of these roads, children are affected as well as adults. Supporting the scheme therefore seems to be a perfect example of NIMBYism.

        The scheme does not distinguish between low polluting (electric, hybrid, Euro-6) and older, more polluting diesel and petrol cars – and lorries, buses, vans etc…

        We can probably agree that there has been no intellectual or strategic thinking about what has been done or why, as well as the total lack of consultation. In Cambridge, ironically.

        1. you make rather sweeping references about health,
          and children’s health – all very emotive.

          “Emotive” maybe but, ironically in this largely evidence-free thread, the effect of air pollution on children’s health is about the one thing for which there is solid evidence-based knowledge. Shouldn’t this be considered?

          The current scheme is displacing traffic from one road
          (Mill Road) into other surrounding roads

          What’s the evidence for this? And what about overall motor traffic levels? I would very much like to know the overall effect on pollution levels.

          In general, this would be an argument for more, not less, restriction on fossil-fuelled motor traffic.

          I think the strategic thinking (such as it is) from central govt. is to effect change which will stop large number of people using cars at all. Quite how/if that’s part of the CC’s thinking, or understood by people affected on the ground, I don’t know!

          1. I too, can get ’emotional’ about children’s health.

            The pressure for cutting through traffic stems from the nature of Mill Road as a residential and shopping street with more residential front doors and windows closer to the carriageway (≤5m) than any other route into Cambridge city centre. It also has a higher proportion of shops set directly onto the pavement than any other approach road.

            As for increased volumes of traffic on other roads, we are fortunate that the Greater Cambridge Partnership funded the installation of monitoring cameras on Mill Road and many surrounding roads to coincide with GTR’s closure of Mill Road Bridge in the summer of 2019.

            Within a few weeks we will have the benefit of cumulative data rather than speculation about changes to traffic levels on other roads. The data is publicly available, but I can’t, at this moment, say how we can all access it.

            I will research that and provide details. If any commenter gets there ahead of me, I’d be delighted.

          2. Within a few weeks we will have the benefit of cumulative data
            rather than speculation about changes to traffic levels on other roads

            That will be great (though again, accounting for any “COVID factor” is going to be tricky). Is there any kind of air quality monitoring happening?

          3. There are air quality monitors all over the city.

            There was an interesting Twitter thread from local blogger, Phil Rodgers on 2nd May.

            Twitter thread quote starts.

            Here’s another look at air pollution graphs for Cambridge, again taken from Gonville Place near the Catholic Church. Lockdown started on 23 March – its effect is pretty clear in the nitric oxide graph.

            Here’s nitrogen dioxide – the pattern isn’t quite so clear, but it’s definitely lower on average post-lockdown.

            It’s a different story for PM10 particulates – here the level has been higher on average since lockdown than it was before. Clearly other factors besides traffic levels are at work.

            The lockdown doesn’t seem to have had much impact on PM2.5 particulates either.

            So it’s a bit of a mixed picture – lockdown has had a big effect on some types of air pollution, but hasn’t led to a big reduction in particulates, at least at Gonville Place. Data from Air Quality England Cambridge City Council Monitoring Data.

            Twitter thread quote ends.

            There is more on the Air pollution levels and monitoring them page of the Cambridge City Council website.

            From the Greater Cambridge Partnership New data shows impact of Covid-19 on traffic and air quality (Published Tuesday 19th May 2020). The full report (PDF) is on the Cambridgeshire Insight website.

            Cambridgeshire Insight is a shared research knowledge base for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area. It allows users an easy way to access and share information and research for deeper insights about their local area.

            If any of the followers of and commenters on the Mill Road Bridges website would like to make use of the tools linked to in this comment, to generate useful graphs and data, we would be happy to publish them.

            If you have your own blog/website, please include a link in your comment. If you tweet, add @MillRoadBridges to the tweet to ensure we see it and can re-tweet/comment. Otherwise email us the words and pictures at info@mill-road.com and say whether you want them in a comment thread or a new post.

          4. Alex you asked where the evidence is about displaced traffic?

            Other than plain common sense (that people with necessary journeys now have to take a longer route) on the parallel “Nextdoor” threads, people in Coldham’s Lane have (unscientifically and unmeasured) described a significant increase in traffic and congestion levels leading them to keep front windows shut during the day.

            Also if we want to be scientific, is there any data on the level of children living on Mill Road itself? Many of the houses are student and multiple occupancy rentals, which are not always permanently occupied, and seem to have low levels of child occupancy (by unscientific observation).

          5. As our admin reports, it seems some real data is going to be forthcoming soon.

            The evidence for the adverse health impacts of pollution are well-established, and children on Mill Road of course have no exemption. They are particularly at risk, as are people with compromised health. But air pollution is bad for everybody: there’s no dispute about that. Some people hold the view – implicitly or explicitly – that’s some pollution is a price worth paying for the ability to drive their fossil-fuelled vehicle over the bridge. That’s actually a debate to be had – and I know what I think!

            As I said, if it’s true that the pollution is merely displaced that’s a good argument for further traffic restrictions on polluting vehicles, not for spreading the misery around.

      3. Good points about the difficulty of untangling the ‘bridge effect’ from the ‘Covid-effect’.

        In the summer of 2019 the bridge was closed to all except pedestrians and (dismounted) cyclists, by GTR’s railway works. There were simultaneous gas-main works by Cadent/Triio, which were brought forward from their planned time, on the basis of getting the pain over in one go.

        There was difficulty, at that time and since, in untangling the ‘bridge effect’ from the ‘Cadent-effect’.

        GTR established a community benefit fund – peanuts in terms of the cost of their works – and Cadent paid substantial compensation to many traders.

      4. Alex Brown – thank you. Your post is spot on… and so few people seem to be saying this in this debate.

        Yes – traders and business owners and their interests etc are important – but so are the interests of all local residents (whether traders or non traders), people who have chosen to (or had to) make this densely residential area near the centre of this historic city their home, bring up their children here, invest what is most important to them (their family dreams, health and well being…)in this place, not just their money or business interests etc…

        And as you say, it’s not just about money – to those of us who’ve made this area our home, our place to have our children, to educate them and rear them or for those without children, the place to find refuge and comfort and to build their home lives – this place is about much more than our livelihoods or our bank balance, important though such things are…

        These issues are about health, safety and well being – for ourselves and our friends and neighbours in this special place – and for many of us also about the health of the most vulnerable to air pollution and traffic risk, eg ourselves or our relatives with lung or heart or other such conditions… or our children, all of whom are vulnerable to health damage as a result of traffic pollution… not to mention the indisputable risk of road accidents.

        The lack of thoughtfulness about these vital matters by so many contributors is deeply dispiriting.

    2. The idea of a local tax to support local businesses and public realm enhancements of which businesses could take advantage is a good one. However, local government’s tax-raising powers (Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council) have been severely restricted for many years, with central government creaming off the income from business rates.

      The nearest we have to that is Business Improvement Districts, as in the city centre, Grafton and station areas. Mill Road Traders’ Association came out strongly against being involved in the BID. I think the reasoning was twofold: additional costs for hard-pressed traders without clear benefits; the likelihood of Mill Road’s small, independent, traders being overridden by big businesses.

  2. Last years road closure decimated our business.

    This week has been the WORST week for us since we started over ten years ago.

    So please, no ‘insights’ into how such schemes work in other places. On Mill Road they do not.

    We are on the city side of the bridge, which is now viewed as hard to get to as drivers have to drive through the middle (ish) part of Cambridge to get to us. We are seen as being on the outskirts of congested roads, there is now no direct access to us from the outskirts of Cambridge.

    In the space of a few days we have been forced to face the very real possibility we have to sell up asap, or face bankruptcy… and that’s assuming anyone is interested in a business that can only be accessed by crossing the busy part of Cambridge.

    We cannot wait for an undemocratic trial period to finish, so we are being forced out.

    How about business owners are compensated for this?

    Somehow I think that’ll be viewed as unreasonable, but businesses going bankrupt through the machinations of the county council isn’t.

    1. Which business is yours, David? This is terrible. I am very much AGAINST the bridge closure. I live the Romsey side, do not have a car, do not drive and believe it’s essential the highway is not obstructed -which is what the County is doing. Have you tried contacting the local papers? If you got a story it might be the trigger to send some business your way. All the best to you.

      (If the County were to do anything it should be to work out something so that massive delivery lorries do not obstruct the traffic on Mill Road during the day. Al Amin, for example.)

      1. Unfortunately I find the current political climate is so anti business and anti free speech I’m genuinely fearful if people knew more about me they would lambast me in social media. This isn’t an irrational fear, I speak from personal experience, sadly. The last thing I need are yet more people adding to our loss of trade…

    2. The signage at either end of the road is terrible, and the county have an incomplete job causing a lot of confusion. Both of these need to be sorted out quickly. No-one, certainly not me, has ever promoted the insight of a closure of the bridge to through-traffic without complementary measures that promote the street and make it a pleasant place to visit.

      I see at least one business near you is aware of the existing problems, and proposing positive ideas – Cambs Antique Centre@CambsAntiques on Twitter

      I think currently it is very poor road signage. It should say “Mill Road Bridge Close. Street Open.” On both sides. Having the streets swept. Maybe the ward could pay to advertise in a similar way to attract business on bus stops. Something simple like this:

      Currently the impression being given out in the media by the traders’ association itself is regrettably that the street is closed, which it is not – a significant own goal as I said below several weeks ago.

      Sign – Bridge Closed, Street open

      Apologies about the cropped image: it’s cropped in the original tweet. I’ll get in touch… – Web Editor.

      I posted a massive list of ideas in the comments section of the Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure post and would be interested to hear if any discussion/action within the trading community is being taken along these positive lines. I and others would undoubtedly be very happy to help with these kinds of ideas – if there is a collective effort encouraged by traders and other groups to work together.

      What efforts are the Mill Road Traders’ Association starting to do to promote the street? There are 20,000 houses in easy walking distance, so it is hard to understand why any business on Mill Road should not start to get a lot of custom, if the messaging is right, and the street is seen as a positive asset to locals, as it reopens.

      For instance, I’ve had literally nothing through my door or on social media promoting Mill Road, yet I’m seeing inventive social media actively encouraging me to visit a new place at the old CB2 premises Norfolk Street (similarly resulting in a long drive from the inner ring road), which is a notable contrast in how businesses are presenting themselves to potential customers.

      I’ve had little other than the usual blue-bin fodder, save for a couple of innovative promotions from Maurizio Dining & Co and Bedouin North African Cuisine. – Web Editor

      4th July will presumably see every hairdresser and barbers’ shop that is opening full with a full schedule of customers, or it ought to if efforts have been made. Have those traders talked to others about complementary offers for those customers to spend at nearby shops for instance? All kinds of imaginative stuff could be done (see my list above), if there is willingness.

  3. Hi

    I appreciate the current circumstances with the bridge closures is a total shambles but I am really worried that the constant negative coverage and arguments about it are putting people off visiting and shopping on the road. Would it be possible to start to focus on the importance that supporting local businesses is for the community. Particularly after the recent lockdown where lots of people started to shop more locally it seems a shame to lose this momentum.

    Obviously feel free to complain at those who make a difference but I think local residents need some positivity rather than a continuous reminder of the bridge fiasco because there isn’t much residents can do about it.

    Just a thought.

    1. Good idea, Jo.

      We have a few posts about what initiatives local businesses are taking, and have asked the Mill Road Traders’ Association to pass on our request for details of what others are doing.

      But a whole new post on how we can support local traders sounds like a brilliant initiative.

      You can find the post here – Celebrate Local Businesses – head over and add your comments.

  4. I am horrified at the decision to close Mill Road bridge and would like to request immediate cancellation of this daft plan.

    I have lived in the Mill Road area in Romsey for over 30 years and as a pedestrian, cyclist and car driver, I would like to state my view that the closure and barriers in Romsey have thoughtlessly been placed and are actually dangerous to all road users. I also think that the [county] council should trust people to use their own common sense when complying with measures to combat Covid-19 rather than treating us like sheep.

    Additionally Mill Road is an artery for access to the centre of Cambridge and as a main access road should remain open to support local residents and businesses freedom of movement.

    1. Lynn – at last the voice of reason.

      I wonder if anyone at the County Council is listening, or just [spending] the government’s cash grant.

      It would be interesting to ask for full disclosure of the grant received and money spent on this chaotic travesty.

      1. I can see those passing bays, now being constructed at probably rather high expense, being largely ignored by pedestrians. Already, every time I have to cross the bridge there is always someone ignoring the signs asking people to use the left side of the bridge (facing them). Some people seem deliberately to cross on the right-hand side.

        However, nothing is being done about the problems of obstruction of the pavements in some side streets: bins and bicycles on the pavement, cars taking up too much of the pavement, overgrown hedges, shrubs and trees. Sometimes the hedges take 2 or even 3 feet of the footpath: cf Glisson Road at the Hills Road end. St Philip’s Road has literally dozens of large wheelie bins left on the narrow pavement almost permanently. The [City] Council occasionally puts threatening stickers on some of them, but it seems nothing else is done.

        As for congestion, traffic and trade on Mill Road: I have lived here over 30 years, too. I am pretty well resigned to Mill Road being grotty, congested and dingy – but with a good number of shops keeping going and people able to get to and from their homes. “Where there’s muck, there’s brass” has quite a bit of truth in it.

        I often think about my trip to a remote part of the Lake District some years ago. Totally beautiful, no traffic, not many people. But you can’t eat the landscape. The small farm where I stayed was unprofitable – only kept going by the deputy headmistress’ salary of the farmer’s wife. The desire to have things beautiful and perfect is understandable.

        We might achieve an environmentally pure Mill Road. But it would be economically much weaker – maybe no more basic shops but just chichi boutiques for the rich – and the residents would have permanent problems getting to and from their homes and the railway station by car.

        1. I wonder if we should run a competition to name and shame the street with the most-blocked pavements… 🤔

          More seriously, Anna Smith (city councillor, Labour, Romsey) suggested to me, a few years back, that many of those narrow side streets could benefit from becoming pedestrian and cycle priority streets, with vehicles permitted but obliged to give way to to foot and cycle traffic.

          Sadly, there seem to be limited powers for either the City Council or Cambridgeshire County Council do impose such regulations.

        2. “I am pretty well resigned to Mill Road being grotty, congested and dingy”

          ‘Keep Mill Road rubbish’ says local resident. Hardly a welcoming call!

          No wonder some of the shops struggle to survive, as I have kept hearing over the last decade.

          Mill Road is not remotely comparable to an obscure part of the Lake District. It is surrounded by 20,000 people within easy walking distance, a large number of whom are not exactly poor (and indeed by practically everyone within the city within a 10-20 minute cycle or drive). Could it be because Mill Road is “grotty, congested and dingy”, so those tens of thousands of people are reluctant to spend their money there when there are nicer areas like the city centre, despite the uniqueness of the brilliant shops on Mill Road?

          There is no reason that Mill Road can’t be both clean, uncongested, bright AND thriving – as many improvements to remove traffic all around the country and beyond have shown. No-one I know is calling for boutiques for the rich, or for perfection, but that doesn’t mean the place has to be unwelcoming. Read through other comments below, and you’ll see exactly that perception.

          I for one have posted a large number of ideas – in this earlier comment – for how the street could be made far more welcoming to everyone.

      2. The use of the word ‘pocketing’ in your comment has been removed as being potentially libellous.

        We have no reason to think that any individual – either Cambridgeshire County Councillor or Officer – has gained, or will gain, personally from the DfT money for Covid-related road works.

        Whether they are well-planned and/or well executed is another point… As is the way the DfT rushed this nation scheme into existence, giving highway authorities just eight weeks to implement works, days before changing the social distancing rules…

        Links to the full documentation on the county-wide schemes – Mill Road and included – are included in the blogpost here.

        Decisions have been delegated to officers, but councillors – of the majority party and of opposition parties – will be demanding full disclosure of costs.

        1. You have misunderstood. My suggestion was that the [county] Council was receiving the government money (and not necessarily spending it all), no insinuation that any individual was doing anything financially improper.

  5. I cycled down Mill Rd this after noon and it was glorious with the hugely reduced traffic.

    I like Mill Road shops, but loathe the traffic and pollution, and don’t go there very often any more. I’m very pleased that it has been filtered to through traffic at the bridge, and pavements widened without the added complication of gas works which made it a PITA to visit last time round, even by bike.

    I sympathise that it’s all been a bit sudden – we live in ‘interesting times’– but the people who think many/most of their customers come by car are just crazy. There is no way that can be true – you just have to count the availability of parking to see that a majority of customers are already walking or biking or busing.

    There have been innumerable studies of the effects of traffic filtering on both congestion and trade and they have almost universally both improved trade and not produced the promised terrible congestion. Here’s a recent short documentary (with US examples) with a lot of good data, that seems relevant: Why Car-Free Streets May Be Here to Stay.

    And here is a load of research with examples from all around the world:
    Shopping and cycling – the evidence | Cycling Embassy of Great Britain

    Thanks, I’ll link to Shopping and cycling – the evidence In the main body of the blogpost.

    The commenter’s other reference was to the fist PDF mentioned in the body of the blogpost: Living Streets published The pedestrian Pound The business case for better streets and places (PDF) in 2018. This was a update on the identically entitled The pedestrian pound The business case for better streets and places (PDF) commissioned from Just Economics five years earlier. – Ed

    It’s really quite hard to find examples where it has not worked, and there are lots where it has been a big success.

    I would be astonished if Mill Road footfall and takings are not improved by this change, and the environment is already improved from day one. You’ll certainly get more money from me.

    1. Hear hear Wookey. And if we all now support the Mill Road traders by using their shops, that will be a far more effective way of making our views known than any amount of writing to the council or holding protest marches.

    2. I walked up Mill Road this (Saturday) morning to shop at Al Amin and the street felt dead. I hope it picks up later.

      One thing that really doesn’t help is the collection of council signs saying “Mill Road Bridge closed”. Please can they add signs saying “businesses still open” – and urgently?

      1. Cambridgeshire County Councillor Linda Jones has insisted on this, which has been agreed. I’ll update her (and officers) on the current situation and need for this to be done quickly.

    3. Wookey – you cannot enjoy traffic-free streets AND the shops in the long run.
      Would you prefer a traffic-free street with no shops, or a vibrant multi-cultural but busy street?

      I have lived here for over 30 years and am listening to the Mill Road traders.

      1. If you listen to a multiplicity of traders, Nick, you’ll find quite a range of opinions.

        Jeremy Sallis, on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s ‘Brunchtime live’ had a range of interviews and opinions. [Link deleted, now expired].

        Interviewees included:

        • Katherine from Little Petra – in the news bulletin at 1hr 1min
        • Pamela Wesson from Fantasia – in the report feature at 1h 08min
        • An email from Sweet & Maurizio – following the above
        • Tom Holbrook from 5th Studio Architects – at 1hr 26min
        • Pamela (reprise clip) – in the news bulletin at 2hr 00min
        • Cambridgeshire County Councillor Linda Jones – following the above

        We do residents, traders, cyclist, car drivers, pedestrians, residents, councillors, or any group a disservice if we ascribe to the whole group the views most robustly expressed form within that group.

        As for your remark “you cannot enjoy traffic-free streets AND the shops in the long run” I would refer you, again, to the case of Trinity Street, King’s Parade and Sidney Street which, once A-class arterial roads, were successfully converted to streets with pedestrian and cycle priority.

        Whether the works on Mill Road are well-planned and/or well executed is moot point…

        It’s important that we monitor its successes (if there are any) and its defects.

      2. Wookey – you cannot enjoy traffic-free streets AND the shops in the long run.

        That’s a bold statement, which goes against almost all the evidence collected from around the world. I posted links to research from a large number of places where comparable changes were made and almost all them proved healthy or very healthy for shops. There is also plenty of evidence that shopkeepers wildly overestimate the number of their customers that arrive by car, which is why it’s very common to get this reaction of ‘AArgh – we will all go bust!’.
        It’s not like you get surveyed when you go in, asking how you travelled, so most traders have no idea how their customers actually arrived.

        If you have any actual evidence do please post it – we are all genuinely interested.

        Bristol City Council’s paper – Spend on high streets according to travel mode (PDF) notes that this significant overestimation was found in research in Bristol, Edinburgh, Leicester and Graz (Austria).

        1. And here is some more detailed info from Oslo and Cologne (Köln) where shop owners greatly mis-estimate the relative importance of walk/bike and car as travel modes for their customers.

          Interesting statistics from this paper from Cycling Embassy of Great Britain – Commerce and Bicycles Paper presented at ‘Trafikdage’ at Aalborg University, 2002 (PDF)

          Shopkeeper’s estimate of cyclists: 2-9%. Actual number of cyclists: 7-20%

          Customers arriving by walk/bike
          Shopkeeper’s estimate: 39%. Actual number:63%
          Customers arriving by car
          Shopkeeper’s estimate: 40%. Actual number:20%

    4. Mill Road closure last year and the bridge closure this year are examples where it hasn’t and isn’t working.

      We are on the city side of the bridge, which is now viewed as hard to get to as drivers have to drive through the middle (ish) part of Cambridge to get to us. We are seen as being on the outskirts of congested roads, there is now no direct access to us from the outskirts of Cambridge.

      In the space of a few days we have been forced to face the very real possibility we have to sell up asap, or face bankruptcy… and that’s assuming anyone is interested in a business that can only be accessed by crossing the busy part of Cambridge.

      We cannot wait for an undemocratic trial period to finish, so we are being forced out.

      Do road closures work? Depends on the goal and where it is. On Mill Road, without decimating at least one business (mine!), then no, road closures do not work.

  6. Did anyone else see the BBC Look East edition last night (6.30-7pm BBC1 ) which had an extended piece on yesterday’s Mill Road Bridge demonstration?

    I was shocked at the extreme bias of the piece: It was almost completely one sided with the reporter (Mo Bakshi, one of Look East’s main presenters who also anchors the show) not even mentioning the fact that there are any people who in any way support the changes to Mill Rd! The only non protester mentioned was the county councillor,Ian Bates, who they interviewed briefly, as he apologised ever so humbly and profusely about the changes rather than giving any attempt at a proper defence. But they didn’t speak to a single non protesting member of the public, despite there being plenty around during filming.

    She also presented it as if all the business owners and traders on Mill Rd are opposed to the changes , as the council vs the business owners, interviewing vehemently opposed business owners while failing to mention, let alone speak to a single non opposing one..
    (Even the Cambridge News managed to convey the fact that there is another side to public opinion on this- clearly stating in its piece the other day, that there are locals very much in favour of the road modifications as well as those vehemently opposed..)

    The reporter/presenter stood on the bridge talking about the situation as if all the locals were opposed to the measures- as she talked in this utterly one sided way, cyclists (pushing their bikes) and pedestrians quietly walked past her and the few protesters over the bridge..but she failed to ask a single one of them what their feelings about the changes were…🤷🏻‍♀️

    Just atrociously lax (publicly funded) journalism… Doesn’t the BBC have a duty to at least try to give the full picture of any such story it is covering, to show there are other perspectives on it, other positions etc? Fair enough they were covering the demonstration by the protesters but they should have at least mentioned at some point that there are local people, both residents and business owners in the area, who support the scheme.

    This is an important local story (with national relevance) with more than one side to it but the local BBC1 prime time news show managed to only show one side of public local opinion- the negative, pro car one…👎🏻👎🏻

    1. The BBC only asked a few people to talk. I was protesting but didn’t get interviewed. Is it a case of a noisy minority? Let’s have a proper consultation with people in the surrounding areas then we will see increased traffic and find out.

      Oh no, the Council have just done it anyway!

      1. I didn’t expect them to interview/speak to everybody there – that would be ridiculous!

        All I expected from the BBC was a bit of balance, a truthful (in as much as that is possible) reflection of where things stand on this matter in the community.

        Whereas what Look East delivered was an almost wholly one-sided view of the situation – they interviewed four different protesters ie protesting members of the local community and the councillor and not one single supportive member of the local community. That is imbalance without question. And it does not reflect the reality of this situation at all.

        A journalist’s job (and that of the programme’s editor/director) particularly in the case, as here, of a BBC journalist funded by the public, is to try as hard as possible to reflect the truth of any situation they are covering/investigating.

        I love the BBC – I watch BBC Look East every night on catch up… and Newsnight…and the News at ten… and Question Time etc etc etc and I admire their journalistic excellence and the balanced way they usually present stories such as this one. But on this occasion, they slipped below their own high standards and in so doing, they let us, the public who pay for their work, down, badly.

        1. I understand your point, about the coverage. I had hoped to review it and link to it but, sadly, BBC Look East (west edition) is not archived on iPlayer. The coverage on ITV News Anglia is archived. There is now a link to the ITV News Anglia report on our Bridge Closure Protest post.

          Both were much of a muchness in terms of reporting only on the demonstration. However:

          • There wasn’t any significant counter-demo visible (at least when I cycled over the bridge to the Co-op, and back again).
          • Benjamin Hatton, Local Democracy Reporter (part-funded by the BBC) has reported more widely on the issues. See his Twitter feed.
          • Jeremy Sallis, on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s ‘Brunchtime live’ had a much more balanced coverage.

          I’ve added the link to Jeremy Sallis’s programme on our Bridge Closure Protest post, with details of where to find the various contributions. [Programme link removed, now expired.]

          Hope this is of help.

          1. That’s really kind, Pippa. Whist, you’re OK in keeping the clips for personal use, I’m not sure we could publish a recording, as distinct from linking to the programme, for copyright reasons.

            Which app did you use, incidentally to record the clip from BBC Sounds?

      2. “The Council”?

        Remember that these developments are undertaken by Cambridgeshire County Council, under instructions/powers from central government.

        1. Its truly unhelpful to keep pointing your finger at the government. The Council (a.k.a. County Council who are responsible for roads) have delegated powers for detailed design of local implementation, and it is these local detailed designs that have led to protests on the streets.

          1. You correctly respond that “the council” is, in this case, Cambridgeshire County Council. Not everyone in our community has your level of understanding that:

            • We have two councils.
            • They have different powers and responsibilities.
            • Cambridgeshire County Council is the local highway authority.
            • The works are (in the greater part) funded by central government.
            • Highway authorities were given eight weeks to implement measures, or they’d lose the money.

            Elsewhere, on other sites, Cambridge City Council has been criticised and individual councillors subjected to abuse.

            Mill Road Bridges aims to inform the local community, and to provide a civilised forum for debate.

            Hope this helps.

            Keep commenting.

    2. Rosemary did mention that Mill Road was a residential street, as well as a retail High Street. This is heartening.

    3. You might have seen my reply, elsewhere on this thread, about Jeremy Sallis‘s Brunchtime Live BBC Radio Cambridgeshire program and the excellent balance, therein.

      There are links to the programme in the main body of the blogpost.

      I wonder who might have alerted Jeremy Sallis and his production team to the nuances of opinion along the road, and suggested possible interviewees? 🤔

      Jeremy Sallis is a huge fan of Mill Road.

  7. Just to say because this forum seems a little more measured. I’m so shocked by some of the videos circulating on Twitter, the protestors had every right to protest, and whatever our views I’m sure we’d all agree. But the videos of them jeering and shouting at a lone cyclist are not good.

    Equally, there’s another video of the same protestors screaming at a car driver that he “doesn’t understand”. Surely the demographic they want to get on side?!

    I’m sure tempers are fraying with […] feelings run[ing] very high. But I always thought of Cambridge as a very measured town.

    I’m not from here, I’m from a town that is nowhere near as nice to live in as Cambridge and fights and rows are commonplace. Believe me, it’s not a road to go down (no pun intended).

    Today my mother-in-law, who is 65, was cycling down Mill Road on a bike. She was shouted at and sworn at by someone on the pavement “f*ck you cycling *****”. This may be a one off but I do hope this rhetoric doesn’t translate into life.

    1. Send our best wishes to your mother-in-law, Lauren.

      I’m sorry that this individual felt it appropriate to abuse a woman cyclist, or any law-abiding cyclist, or lone woman.

  8. Just a comment on the attractivity of Mill Road.

    I came to Cambridge (Cherry Hinton) 2 years ago and I remember everybody suggesting me to visit Mill Road, describing it as one of the best spots in Cambridge, especially for shopping and dining out.

    When I saw it the first time I was very much underwhelmed. The pavements were ridicously narrow, the noise and pollution from the traffic were terrible and generally speaking it looked mostly like a cut-through road.

    Still, attracted by the local restaurants I started to visit more and more often. Nowadays “going to Mill Road” is a frequent argument with my wife as she doesn’t like to go there, mostly because of the excessive traffic and pavement parking. Especially coming by bike might not be too dangerous but it is never a nice experience. I’ve heard several people expressing the same concerns in the past, and I’m pretty sure it’s a common feeling.

    I’m not sure myself about this recent change by the council, but I think a (semi-)pedestrianisation of Mill Road would be excellent news, especially for the local businesses. I really encourage the local traders to think about what this road could become.

  9. We live in strange times and the closure has come out of the blue and without consultation. As residents and as small business owners we welcome the idea of less through-way traffic and more pedestrians. We believe footfall is key to keeping our Mill Road business visible.

    This means widening pavements and where possible, encouraging outdoor seating areas allowing consumers to feel part of a community. It also means tackling the amount of traffic pollution and illegal pavement parking

    However we believe better communication from County Council is required and from what we understand, this will be a temporary measure that will be reviewed at some point in the future.

    Disappointing we haven’t seen or heard anything from the decision makers themselves yet – they should be visiting Mill Road to see and hear about the impact this will have (negative and positive) on our Mill Road community.


    Sweet and Maurizio

    Maurizio Dining & Co.

    1. Thank you. Maurizio’s. There are some exceptional shops, restaurants and salons in Mill Road and one would hope that all sections of the community would rally behind traffic-calming and through-traffic-reducing measures which could allow all businesses to receive deliveries. Special exceptions possibly for those traders who may have warehouse facilities one side of the bridge and outlets on the other side could be put in place.

  10. Now that the bridge closure is in place, the Mill Road Traders’ Association needs to up its game and promote the street as a nice place to be. Currently the message they are unintentionally giving out is safety is not high on their radar, and in general giving off a lot of negativity.

      With a nice summer ahead, they should be calling for imaginative ideas to give the clear message that Mill Road is open, safe, and welcoming.

    Here are some starter ideas:

    • Parking spaces and delivery spaces, along the street, as well as at each sideroad (1 short-stay plus one free disabled space). Traders always complain there is no parking – why aren’t they calling for this right now?
    • Pushing to allow tables and chairs on the street for al-fresco use. The cafes and restaurants will surely need this given that capacity indoors will be reduced if they are COVID-safe compliant.
    • Seating areas outside to rest and relax. People enjoying public space spend more money in the nearby shops.
    • Tree planters along the street (would have been lovely to have had shade today!).
    • Website promoting the street, with a shops directory, interviews with traders, etc.
    • Instructing their van drivers never to park on pavements – no excuse now without the queueing traffic.
    • Posters for house windows promoting Mill Road.
    • Flyer to all houses.
    • Booklet every 2-4 weeks featuring different shops.
    • Publicise the safety changes made by shops. (But what actually has been done inside the shops? Some I’ve been in seem to have done nothing, despite claims of substantial efforts being made along the street. The likes of Al Amin have clearly made excellent efforts though.)
    • Improving shop windows – some barely touched in years it seems, and it would be nice to feel that new customers are actually being enticed in rather than merely existing customers’ loyalty being assumed.
    • Flag bunting along the street – giving a sense that this is a welcoming place to come to, not just a traffic conduit as it has been.
    • What about something very eye-catching like this parasol art?

    (More images on the BoredPanda website – Hundreds of Floating Umbrellas Above a Street in Agueda, Portugal)

    • Public art by children currently stuck at home.
    • Maybe… a Loyalty card (properly resourced though – Milly Card was a bit half-hearted); not sure as this would maybe just cut profits.
    • Gateway arch feature from Parker’s Piece to draw in sunbathers to buy food.
    • Open windows selling lunch for people walking by, with attractive displays. A stream of A-boards, some of which are not particularly enticing, isn’t really enough.
    • Events at weekends. Maybe a bit difficult while there is social distancing. (Though traders’ don’t seem to think this is a problem judging by today’s protest of >50 people…)
    • Twitter and Instagram accounts promoting Mill Road and what its shops have to offer. Imaginatively showing what is available. Separate to other accounts, i.e. not a vehicle for campaigning views which inevitably divide opinion, but simply to promote shops in a positive way.
    • Apply to city council for promotion grant or Mill Road co-ordinator to organise a lot of this.
    • Food selling outdoors on Saturdays, as on the day of the annual Mill Road Winter Fair
    • Barbers seating outside for queuing customers now that 1-2m not easy inside. (No doubt those against the current changes are presumably not planning to have seating outside, and so limiting their numbers, as that could look hypocritical.)
    • Rainbow pedestrian crossings – things like this that kids will want to visit, bringing families in.

    Rainbow Pedestrian Crossing – University of Surrey

    • New delivery setups so that people shielding or wary of coming out can use the shops – provide an alternative to everyone else who now provides online ordering. (Al Amin are already doing this – Ed) That’s what traders have had to start competing against in the last 5-10 years, but especially right now. It’s not 1990 any longer; shops need to adapt. Many people are currently wary of coming out of their houses. Websites like http://www.clickitlocal.co.uk are already out there – how many traders have signed up or promoted this?
    • Secret shopper tests – frankly, some of the shops seem to treat shoppers as a bit of an inconvenience rather than be really friendly and welcoming. A smile and a thank you aren’t universally present when a transaction is made. Many, thankfully, are lovely and welcoming, but improvements could be made along the street.
    • Sorting out disabled access. Why is this still a problem in 2020? Some establishments have been threatened with court action, which frankly undermines complaints about disabled driver access over the bridge. Al Amin shows improvements can (and legally must) be made.
    • Traders website not updated since 2017 (has there really been no time in the last 3 months to sort that out?). Presumably this wouldn’t break furloughing any more than activities like poster creation and so on would have broken it. https://millroadtraders.wordpress.com/

    (Note:The site which to which Martin refers, is the top hit on Google. However, this later iteration of the Mill Road Traders’ Association website‘s most recent update is October 2019, which is not much better. In the body of the blogpost I note that we have asked Mill Road Traders’ Association for a statement, and offered to link to anything appropriate which they post on their website. – Ed)

    • Reinvigorate the Mill Road Traders’ Association to cover more shops and a stronger democratic basis – seems to be the same people all the time, giving a single message of “Nothing must ever change on Mill Road”. Which traders do they actually represent, and to what extent? What work to set up street promotion has this body been doing for the last 3 months, for instance, knowing that even with the most perfect street arrangement, trading would always be very challenging?
    • Crowdfund for improvements so that these changes don’t come out of profits. Plenty in the community would be happy to help traders out to do lots of things in this list, if there was a more positive attitude. Though the city council ought to be providing a big grant to improve the street and do lots of the work, rather than continue to put all their efforts into the city centre (where streets are already much wider and more pleasant).
    • Ask the few larger chain stores like Co-op for assistance to fund soft street improvements.
    • Painting shop fronts and generally brightening up the street.

    (Good to see at least two of the hairdressers’ being refitted and redecorated, including Mill Road Traders’ Association spokesperson Piero d’Angelico, and two restaurants – Maurizio Dining and Al Casbah. – Ed)

    I have seen not a single suggestion in any communication over the last few weeks suggesting any of the above, only protest, sadly. Where is the imagination and desire to improve the street, irrespective of traffic changes?

    I know from personal experience that running a business is hard and exhausting work. None of the above would just happen by magic. But there needs to be a sense to work together that Mill Road can be better.

    There is plenty of opportunity in coming months for businesses. People have been stuck indoors and want opportunities to go out and spend money in pleasant surroundings.

    For instance, any barber or hair salon on Mill Road who doesn’t have a full order book from 4th July would surely be doing something wrong when there are 20,000 people within walking distance on their doorstep – “the nation needs a haircut” as Matt Hancock MP said. Those places should be designing and flyering these houses right now, generating bookings and creating new customers who will return afterwards.

    1. Fantastic suggestions, Martin. We are residents and residents overwhelmingly support your suggestions. We want Mill Road to be a vibrant community with great shops and businesses growing and thriving and a place to welcome visitors. We don’t need cars and pollution for this and should be supporting and encouraging these measures to improve the community. Let’s make Mill Road a destination, not a place to park your car on the pavement while you nip in to buy a sandwich.

  11. I am not a driver or a cyclist and I see no problem with walking over the bridge in its existing state if you adhere to the direction of travel signs. You are then following others rather than facing them and you can easily maintain the expected gap. A few more arrows painted on the pavements would make the message clearer.

    I am more concerned for the residents of Devonshire Road which will be the last escape route for traffic prohibited on the bridge. It is already a busy route to the station with an incredibly narrow left hand side pavement. It also has heavy traffic from Travis Perkins. I am sure that the extra vehicles will be unwelcome as they will also be on other side streets with access from Mill Road to connect with main roads.

    It would be good if the County Council admitted that this plan has nothing to do with COVID but is another attempt to ban cars and prioritise cycling whilst there is an opportunity to push through a regulation without any consultation.

    If it is also about safety for pedestrians then there are plenty of streets in Cambridge where the pavements are narrowed by parking and wheelie bins. The best option for pedestrians is often to walk in the road. It can be impossible for residents with prams or wheelchairs to use the pavements. These roads are probably more hazardous than Mill Road Bridge!

    1. Those are very valid points about vehicles, wheelie bins, and goodness knows what blocking the pavement on many of our local side-streets.

      Perhaps we should have a whole new blog post on that very subject?

    2. This morning I haven’t been able to find a good place to park my car on Cavendish Road as it’s the last un-permitted Road before the barrier. People seem to be using this as an overflow which is incredibly inconvenient.

      Also, the road system over the bridge hardly seems appropriate for improving social distancing or flow given the somewhat random pattern of one way « steps ».

      The rushed, incoherent nature of this roll out is immediately apparent.

      1. Prompted by this message, I’ve just looked outside and as of now (09:25) there are ample free on-road spaces on Cavendish Rd. (at least on the northern end, where I looked).

        But this highlights another problem: the use of Romsey’s residential streets as a personal day-time car park by commuters. The immediate solution to that is a residential parking scheme. In the longer time it would be good to reduce the number of cars in Romsey because parked cars completely dominate the residential roads (and pavements!)

    3. I feel safer walking in the middle of the road down the side streets with a pram than on the pavements of Mill Road.

  12. So, over 50 taxi drivers just did a ‘demonstration’ on Mill Road, blocking the road and beeping their horns for over 20 minutes.

    I have a few thoughts on this and wonder what others think?

    I am trying to be empathetic and understand that this is their livelihood. Not using Mill Road (especially as a cut-through to and from town or the Station) means less journeys per hour so less income. Has this been considered or factored into any plans?

    On the other hand, just because someone has a car to block a road and make noise, should their voice be heard above that of pedestrians? Is this the best way to raise awareness and protest? Is stopping me and others from working at home or reaching their destinations justified? Does Mill Road need the taxis, or do the taxis just need Mill Road?

    Cheers all,


    1. Matthew – I was at the demo and it had been organised by the Mill Road Traders Association as they KNOW (from last year’s closure) that they will lose more money, when some have not even reopened yet from Covid closure. The taxis were supporting this protest.

      I think your use of the words “cut through” are rather loaded. Taxis choose the shortest or quickest route for their passengers to reach their destinations and often travel to and from our main railway station. Taking the most direct or shortest route uses the least fuel and produces the least pollution, surely something we should encourage. Many of these vehicles are also hybrid or electric and pose little harm to people using Mill Road – unlike diesel lorries and buses.

      Finally, taxi drivers have been putting themselves at risk to help people get round Cambridge during the last 3 months, I think we owe them a bit more respect.

      1. Some moot points, here.

        Last summer‘s bridge closure certainly did adversely affect trade, particularly on the city side of Mill Road bridge. What is difficult to disentangle, however, is how much was the effect of the bridge closure or of the simultaneous gas main works.

        Unfortunately, at the present time, it will be difficult to know, as businesses reopen, how much the new restrictions on Mill Road Bridge are affecting trade and how much it is as a result of people unwilling to trust politicians who say that it is safe to ease lockdown rules.

        On the issues around petrol, electric, and diesel vehicles – there are a few points worth making.

        Cambridge City Council pushed through a move to electrification of the taxi fleet. Some taxi-drivers protested at this wanting to keep their diesel vehicles. Moreover, what many of us refer to as ‘taxis’ are not, legally taxis but private hire vehicles. Many of them are registered under slightly different regulations in South Cambridgeshire, and elsewhere. I have even noticed at least one which is registered in Wolverhampton. These can, quite legally, operate into, out of, and within Cambridge city.

        Finally, counterintuitively, Euro VI diesel buses have lower emissions than Euro 6 diesel taxis. The well-known scandal of the way that emission test for lighter diesel engines were gamed, does not apply to the heavy diesel engines which are subject to real-world testing.

        There is a post – Dirty Buses – on the Cambridge Area Bus Users website which has much more information on diesel emissions.

    2. So well argued, thank you Matthew. The mood is very confrontational which is sad.

      As a resident of Mill Road I mentioned to a taxi driver, as he honked his horn, that surely there could be another way. Local taxis could have dispensation to use the bridge along with buses.

  13. Whilst being in broad agreement with the need to widen pavements on Mill Road so that we can safely reopen businesses there, I also agree that this scheme has been hastily introduced with no consultation. One of the groups that appear to have been neglected in this are the less able bodied. Can you please consider signing this petition to allow access over Mill Road bridge to blue badge holders. Thank you.

    Sign the petition, here.

    Note: This petition is run by Cambridge LibDems, to whom Mill Road Bridges has no affiliation.

    We are, however, happy to link to appropriate petitions from any organisation.

    – Mill Road Bridges web editor

    1. Thanks for highlighting this. I’m appalled that the council appears to be so cynical and unconcerned about access needs for people with disabilities. This isn’t the first time they’ve shown such insensitivity. I would love still to be able to walk or bike but neither is now possible. What does the council propose for people who can’t always walk much, if at all?

      1. Remember that when you say “the council” these measures are being introduced by Cambridgeshire County Council, not Cambridge City Council.

        The major problem, as I have remarked elsewhere, is that these measures were rushed into being by central government, giving highway authorities – in our case Cambridgeshire County Council – just eight weeks to undertake works or lose the money.

        As the legal basis for these works is under an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order, the scheme can be amended throughout the whole of its period.

        I have provided a link, in the main body of the blog post, where you can make your representations known.

        (I do not mean, by that, that you should stop commenting here. You are very welcome to add more comments.)

  14. Quick thought…the social distanceing argument is surely now null and void is it not? As of the 4th of July, this will be reverting to 1m+ , therefore the width of the pavement would be sufficient. Why is this still being considered?

    It certainly no longer seems to be bear any relationship to COVID protections and appears to be more of an opportunity to push a half baked agenda driven by a minority. Not meaning to be negative, as there certainly are benefits associated with the plan… but on the face of it, this seems to be a very underhand way to force through such legislation without consultation.

    1. It is far from ideal that central government has a bout of initiative-itis and the county council has eight weeks to do things. But that is how, in this case, the schemes came into being.

      Many commenters, in national media and social media, have said that the government is making up policy ‘on the hoof’ and drafted ‘on the back of a fag-packet’. Be that as may, government initiatives and changes to rules and advice zoom past us at bewildering speed.

      On the one hand, a longer pre-consultation period would satisfy many people, but if delivery was delayed until, say, October, that would be about as much use as a chocolate teapot, when measures are needed now.

      With the limited timescale imposed by central government, there is little time to think out projects from a clean sheet. Inevitably projects which have been shelved in the past are taken down, dusted off and implemented. Sometimes minor amendments are incorporated, sometimes not.

      I think much of the thrust of the Statutory Guidance from the DfT is to encourage, nationally, more walking and cycling, to avoid a resurgence of private car traffic, when public transport use is being discouraged.

      I’m not taking sides on these proposals, and am happy to approve all manner of viewpoints which are not my own.

  15. Mill Road is one of the most unpleasant streets for cycling or walking in Cambridge. I’ve lived here for 5 years, and I’m astonished that people consider this some kind of model of urban space. It is unsafe, noisy, dirty, polluted, and the frequency with which one encounters drug transactions in broad daylight — not 100 m away from the Police Station — is incredible.

    The changes that are being trialled are extremely conservative. Making a few provisions for blue badge holders, the new system would only affect private vehicle drivers who have to go through the bridge every day. Why we think of this as a god-given right is beyond me.

    A few vocal business owners seem to drown the debate with invective. Ironically, they run some of the most unattractive businesses on the street. When was the last time that [shop name] changed anything on the window? Why is this something worth preserving? You have to have a romantic affinity for squalor to think of that as a treasured asset.

    Shop name redacted because I can find no post here or on social media from that particular trader expressing opinions for, or against, these works.

    – Mill Road Bridges web editor

    1. You make some valid points about the current downsides of Mill Road.

      Do you think the current proposals will help to improve the ‘liveability’, ‘walkability’ and cycleability’ of the street? Or should there be further installations and/or restrictions?

      There are, as you say, a core of highly-vocal traders who are firmly against these proposals. We will, of course, enable them to express their views. Other traders see the current proposals as a great business opportunity. They, too, are welcome to have their say, here. At least one already has expressed his view.

      If you have a ‘romantic affinity for squalor’ try visiting Fantasia

      Unusual and Unnecessary Items…
      MillRoadMaven’s emporium of the exotic, unique to Cambridge! New and vintage clothing + collectibles from Japan, US, Paris, England…

    2. I lived off Mill road in Argyll street and Greville Road for 25 years, and frankly I do not recognise your description of the road. I have never seen a drug deal on there… I’m guessing I’m not around at the best time of day for buying drugs?

      It is a multicultural, mixed inner city street. It has some fantastic shops and shop keepers, my daughter was given a meal free in one of the Chinese restaurants once on a very cold winters day… for no other reason than being nice.

      1. It’s a great place. Thank you for your comment.

        I have, myself, encountered similar kindnesses, both to myself and to others.

        There is, however, as others have quite properly remarked, a downside. There are people who are begging on the streets to fund their drug and alcohol abuse. There are drug deals on and around Mill Road.

        The problem with the drug dealing is that Cambridgeshire Constabulary are, in effect, playing whack-a-mole with the drug dealers.

        I’m afraid that the debate about what are appropriate approaches to drug addiction are, probably, for other fora.

  16. I do think it’s interesting that a large number of folks commenting positively currently never shop on Mill Road. Pre Covid, I don’t understand why. The pavements without a 2m rule are not too bad even for this wonky old bird.

    They really should keep the bridge open for folk who can’t walk over it. Could just log car plates like you do for disabled parking at the station.

    1. A point well worth discussing.

      The ANPR technology used for enforcement could equally distinguish local, pre-registered, permitted users.

  17. Yesterday afternoon I walked over Mill Road Bridge towards town and most people were adhering to the message on the yellow signs to walk on the left side, thereby making social distancing possible. As I crossed two police cars on blue lights headed over towards Romsey. Further down the road another police car and an ambulance – both on blue lights- headed in the same direction. Once the new scheme is in place it will be concerning if such a scenario was repeated and the emergency vehicles encountered a double decker bus on the bridge. Will there be room for such vehicles to pass by using the cycle lanes?

  18. I have had a business on Mill Road for over 20 years. Sure, clients would like to drive to us, & sometimes we need to use a car, but it is about priories and changing behaviour. There are alternatives (we use a car club). I cannot believe that people would argue against widening pavements that are sometimes less than 3 foot wide. There need to be serious endeavours to slow speeding traffic which is dangerous and unpleasant. A huge body of evidence exists that all of us who work along the street will benefit from a bit more balance and a cleaner and safer environment.

  19. I suppose the idea is to encourage people to walk and cycle more. And that’s good for the planet and good for our health. So I’m for it.

    Also…I’m not so steady on my bike and it feels really scary if I ever cycle across the bridge.

  20. I agree with Anne’s post about being positive, as I’ve said further down. I do think the debate more widely is becoming a little divorced from reality, yes this may not be ideal but it could be a real opportunity and lots of people are in favour (and many opposed). I joined Nextdoor as I thought there might be a bit of a drive to support the traders by publicising the shops or something but it was so vicious i quickly deleted my account!

    We all want to support the shops, and I intend to shop again on Mill Road once the closure is in place and I feel safe.

    I do think some quarters of the debate are enjoying the hype and drama of it all and slightly taking advantage of the traders’ justifiable concern and anger.

    I don’t mean anyone here at all I mean more on wider social networks – I just think legitimate business concerns are getting bound up with fringe groups with axes to grind. They have the right to think and say what they want but I think the combined result is not helping the traders at all. I just hope once the closure is in place the community can come together and with tweaks maybe the scheme will help.

    1. Thank you for your positive approach.

      There are, indeed, a plethora of intemperate posts on the local (anti-?)social media ‘Nextdoor’ network.

      The current proposals are, quite probably, sub-optimal, but Mill Road’s ‘Community of Communities’ needs to find a way though the current crisis and to reimagine the future.

      It’s not helpful if others fight like ferrets in a sack.

    2. Completely agree, Lauren.

      I’m on Nextdoor too – there certainly are some nasty comments on there and a lot of ill-judged, bigoted, unsubstantiated statements too… particularly about cyclists, road pollution concerns, traffic calming etc.

      I persevere because I use the site for really helpful things like recommendations for plumbers etc + I don’t want to allow the ill-informed and small-minded lot to have free rein on there about important local Cambridge issues such as this one.

      Absurd assertions based on nothing but bias need to be challenged! Especially when the issues under discussion are as important to life and well being, indeed the future of not just our city but our planet itself, as this one..

  21. The plans put forward by the County may not be perfect but they do present us with an opportunity to create the sort of shopping and communal space we would all like to see in Mill Road.

    This emergency scheme can be tweaked and I hope everyone will be able to come up with positive ideas of how it can be improved. During last Summer’s closure the Romsey side had pavement cafes and flower beds which have become permanent. If we recognise that Mill Road is not a cut through but a road for thriving business and community engagement we can make progress.

    I am looking forward to the continuing reduction in pollution, better accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists and shops which can make the most of a much more friendly environment.

    We all recognise the devastating effect that Covid has had on our local businesses and I for one want to help them to take advantage of a post COVID world.

    1. All? What ‘all’? Who are you speaking for? Not me and hundreds of others that think it is a ridiculous idea.

      1. Thank you for the comment.

        Could you clarify who the ‘hundreds of others’ are who agree with your viewpoint?

        A careful reading of our former MP’s use of ‘all’ in her contribution looks like an expression of Mill Road’s community spirit to find the best solution for our ‘Community of Communities’ rather than an assertion that the current proposals are ideal.

    2. Anne – you still think you are speaking fur all residents, and you are not. This will increase pollution in many other roads, overall in my opinion it is not a price worth paying. I guess it depends on which road you live on, as people are affected differently.

      1. You have an entirely valid view about the spread of pollution.

        It is not, however, at all clear that our former MP is suggesting she speaks for anyone other than herself, save for the sense in which she credits ‘all’ in the community with good intentions.

    3. Hear,hear Anne!
      Your comment expresses eloquently how very many of us who live in this area feel about this issue.
      Thank you.

    4. It also leaves disabled people like me who can’t manage the bridge on foot cut off from the town end of the road. I do feel once again it’s a pro cyclist ( which is fine) anti disabled people position. I’ve contacted my councillor as I don’t think any attempt at consultation was made.

      1. I’m not sure which councillor you contacted, Karen.

        As this is a Cambridgeshire County Council scheme, it‘s your two local county councillors you should contact.

        I’ll add details into the main part of the blog post, and link back into this answer, later this afternoon.

      2. I’m not disabled but I have previously experienced not been able to walk due to a temporary issue (during the bridge closure last year) so I do sympathise though I know I haven’t experienced disability. I do think they should make it accessible to blue badge holders like the campaign group is suggesting.

        Would seem to be the obvious solution to a lot of this. Those people like you who need to drive over can, those who are choosing to, take a detour on more appropriate roads leaving the road clearer for people like you.

        1. While I would like the pavements around the shops to be wider and the shopping experience to be better, there is a balance to be struck. I don’t want to recreate boho areas in London, I want it still to be “Mill Road”. Sending the traffic round on “more suitable roads” means small residential streets, and generating more air pollution. Is this more suitable? I think the elephant in the room is that there is actually space for bikes, cars, vans and taxis – while driven at sensible speeds. It is the lorries and buses which are out of scale with our narrow roadspace. If we could move Travis Perkins out of the area, the large traffic issues would reduce. Buses are more of a problem to solve. Any ideas

          1. Sending the traffic round on “more suitable roads” means small
            residential streets, and generating more air pollution.

            There seems to be a frequent assumption that the number of motorists is going to remain constant, but one of the government objectives is to stop people driving and encourage them to use “active travel” (e.g. walking) instead when they are able. For these targeted people, surely the inconvenience is a feature of the scheme, intended to nudge them out of their cars and stop the problem of unnecessary short car journeys. It will be interesting to see what actually happens …

          2. This is a fair point nick, what I meant though said clumsily is really what you said – Mill Road is narrow so it’s not really a main road in the modern sense. And before someone piles on to say it is an arterial road, yes it is in practice but it was built in the late 19th c, it’s narrow and so as you say not right for big lorries.

            What I meant was personally for me; I hate driving it, I find it stressful and always end up driving very slowly behind a cyclist because I don’t want to aggressively overtake and scare them. Therefore for me being nudged to other roads like Coldham’s Lane is better. Though again before I get leapt on, this isn’t ideal for those residents.

            I think as the below poster suggests the theory is traffic is reduced, generally. But buses need to improve for that to happen in reality. I just meant if people doing short drives reduces then the road is better for walkers and cyclists but also quieter for disabled people who need to drive.

            And yes, buses here are terrible to cyclists so I don’t think this will be a utopia with cycling and bus riding existing happily – I’ve seen just as many bus drivers in Cambridge abuse cyclists as car drivers so I guess that also needs to change.

          3. Speaking on a personal basis…

            • When I drive, I think of the cyclists in front and behind and keep in my mind my experiences of cycling along Mill Road.
            • When I cycle over Mill Road Bridge, I keep well out from the kerb to ‘take the lane’ and have a safety margin in case of a close-pass.
            • Some of my hairiest close-pass experiences have involved taxis.
            • I’ve never once felt threatened by a bus on my tail on the bridge. I’ve always found that the drivers hang well back and give me space. On a number of occasions, I have emailed or tweeted to Stagecoach complimenting the driver.
            • When I’m getting off a bus, as well as saying ‘thank you’, I always compliment drivers who have driven well around cyclists.
          4. That is good to know, I’ve always been frightened of the buses so it’s good to hear a positive experience. I saw an accident involving a bus and cyclist in town and the experience shook me!

          5. Just chiming in to agree with what Nick says about the huge noisy polluting 18-wheelers that roar past too often. The rest, as he says: there is “actually space for bikes, cars, vans and taxis – while driven at sensible speeds.”

          6. Coincidentally, I was just mentioning you, Pamela…

            If you have a ‘romantic affinity for squalor’ try visiting Fantasia

            Unusual and Unnecessary Items…
            MillRoadMaven’s emporium of the exotic, unique to Cambridge! New and vintage clothing + collectibles from Japan, US, Paris, England…

      3. I agree that this closure of the bridge to cars causes problems for people with disabilities.

        My son has a Blue Badge. The poster who cited the arrangements at Cambridge Station for Blue Badge holders as being a workable arrangement probably hasn’t experienced the appalling bureaucracy and the threats from the Car Parking Company. My son doesn’t drive, and we don’t have a car. His support workers do.

        The car parking Company makes you register the vehicle not the Blue Badge. This means that we can’t use the Disabled Bays, because of the appalling time-consuming process you have to go through every time there is a different vehicle being used to transport my son. And it seems, even when you have registered, the system issues you with a fine if you need to park at the station the day you have registered.

        Last year we had 18 different support workers, most of whom used their cars to transport my son. You cannot register more than one car with a Blue Badge. This means every time there is a different vehicle you have to go online, take a picture of the badge, upload it to their website, fill in a detailed form. This takes me hours and help from several people. We aren’t all able to do this sort of thing. When my son needed a different car with a different driver, we had to go through this all over again.

        What I didn’t realise was that we weren’t registering a second car, we were automatically deregistering the first one as well. The system didn’t tell me this. And you try phoning them up! Each time it was at least a 40-minute wait to get through and then you are given wrong information. The [people] from the parking company who set up this system fail to account for the fact the Badge belongs to the disabled person and not to any vehicle. They don’t care. They care nothing about disability issues.

        The two railway companies involved at Cambridge station aren’t bothered either. The car parking company is acting as the agent of the company that runs the Station. The NCP should either have staff going round the car park checking the Blue Badge’s validity or, if they insist on scanning, they should scan the badge itself on entry or exit. Instead they rely on number plate recognition.

        After I registered the second car, we then found that I needed to re-register the first one. I had an email saying this had been done and off the driver went with my son. But a few days later he then received a threatening letter from NCP imposing a heavy fine – nearly £100.

        It took hours and hours of my time over several weeks to get them to cancel the fine. I asked for an apology but never received one. This system blatantly fails to provide for disabled people’s needs. And I, as the principal family carer, need this sort of problem like I need a hole in the head. So, the outcome is that now we never park at the station. I bet the same problem would apply if a Blue Badge exemption was brought in for crossing Mill Road.

        Now we have to use taxis if we need to drive to the station the journey time and the cost has gone up because taxis can’t cross the bridge. Last summer when the bridge was shut, and Mill Road was chaos with the gas main, we hardly went into town at all because buses weren’t running, and taxi journeys were an expensive nightmare. Many drivers refused even to accept the fare when they heard where we lived. We are now back with the very expensive and unnecessarily lengthy taxi journeys. We are not getting on a bus at the moment for safety reasons.

        Oh yes, and I think the street where we live will now become a rat run for vehicles needing to turn round before the bridge. Thanks a million.

        1. This is appalling treatment you have had to endure. Thank you, so much, for pointing this out. It is very easy for those of us who do not need to use a Blue Badge and have no experience of this to glibly assume that it will be relatively easy to give exemptions.

          Thank you for educating all who follow this website.

        2. Re: Cambridge Independent recent piece, “A Lifeline to Blue Badge Holders and Mill Road Bridge” by Mike Scialom.

          This is a sensible balanced way of considering the situation. The down side of this is that the Blue Badge Holder Scheme has been open to blatant abuse ever since it's inception, partly due to weak enforcement. Somehow, as has been hinted in this piece, a solution to prevent any abuse would be needed. Hopefully that could be found.🙂

        3. Interesting to hear Margaret. I am also a blue badge holder, but in my case I can drive myself at the moment. I have parked at the station many times, both in my own car and in a friends. In both cases I have never had a problem. I did in both cases register well in advance of needing to use the car park, and I did need to re-register my own car after using another one. It has worked just fine for me. I really appreciate that it’s free all day.

          I’m also living on the Romsey side of the bridge. I don’t find it too awful going into town when the bridge is shut, though it does take longer. It’s the Petersfield side of the bridge I’ll miss.

          I had a hospital appointment this morning and had to drive home. The traffic narrowing features now on the road seem bonkers to me. How does pushing cyclists out into oncoming traffic help anyone. I saw someone nearly knocked off by a taxi that didn’t want to wait.

          I was also told by my cleaner that she’d seen three cars cross the bridge again nearly knocking her off as it’s too narrow.

          The whole thing looks like a mess to me. Glad I’m not a cyclist.

  22. I live on Mill Road. Most cars using the road are using it as a cut through and, whilst that’s indicative of a wider problem in Cambridge which is not easily solved, it doesn’t benefit the community or businesses. People race down the road and often we walk into the road due to thin pavements, so not safe for kids or relaxing. Taxis use this road all day long just to cut through to station and avoid Hills Road or Newmarket Road. I personally think a pedestrianised Mill Road would boost trade, provided that the counsel invested in ample parking nearby. More people would come and they would stay longer if it was a more relaxing environment, conducive with shopping and eating. That’s my view and i welcome others… So why not have a consultation with the whole invested populus, not just traders? Just a simple online pole with one vote per person would give an indication of wider sentiment, not just traders or the council or those with vested interests

    1. Mill Road is one of the main arterial roads in Cambridge, it is not a residential road, it is lined with shops for a good proportion of its length. It is a bus route. You seem to want to make people believe its a quiet residential road which is plagued as a cut through/rat run.

      Cars cannot race down Mill road, part of the initiative was to get the buses to run faster and to cut congestion. Pedestrianising Mill Road would effectively cut off a good proportion of the “town end” as they would have no way to “leave”.

      I lived off Mill Road for 25 years and walked up and down it most days, shopping at the Coop/ChooMee etc, I do not recognise the fear you seem to have of it.

      1. “Cars cannot race down Mill road”. Are you serious? Go there in the evenings and you see exactly that. Even during the day recently there has been some of this because traffic has been so much lower.

        Mill Road is a massive collision blackspot – the second-highest location in the whole of Cambridgeshire. Browse the map here and you’ll see collision after collision. Anyone who cycles over the bridge will know you take your life in your hands with close passing and dangerous driving very common.

        See Bike Data – collisions on this map centred on hill Cambridge.

        Mill Road Bridges website manager adds: this is even more alarming if you tick the checkbox to add pedestrian casualties to those of cyclists.

        PS Clearly Mill Road can’t be ‘pedestrianised’ as all the sideroads have to be driven and out of by residents. I don’t think anyone is asking for that kind of thing. But the vast amount of through-traffic provides absolutely no benefit to the community. It should be a street that people can access easily but not use as an arterial road – the volume of traffic is now well beyond what the street was designed for.

        1. What about members of the community who rely on the road for their commute?

          Hi, Hugh.

          Is it possible to be specific about which community of commuters you’re raising concerns on behalf of? And if their mode of commute is by bus and cycle – which are not going to be disrupted – or by motorcar?

          – Mill Road Bridges Website Manager

          1. Sure, my partner commutes by car from Cavendish Road (Romsey side of Mill Road) to Huntingdon. The quickest route is to join the M11 which means driving down Mill Road and skirting Parker’s Piece. This is already a bit of a mission of a commute and the bridge will now require a detour and add extra time to it. I’m sure there are also others in the community who follow a similar route. This change is going to be a cause of significant frustration as not everyone is able to commute via public transport or bicycle.

          2. Thank you, for this, Hugh.

            I would have thought that my own choice of route, were I setting out from Cavendish Road, would be via Brooks Road Banwell Road, Fen Ditton and onto the A14 that way.

            That, agreed, might have been fairly horrendous while improvement works were in place in Fen Ditton village and on the A14 itself. But I would suspect that, now both of those jobs are complete, it might be equally as quick.

        2. Overall there has been an increase in speeding in the whole country because roads were much quieter due to the lock down, not just as you intimate Mill Road. On normal days you cannot speed down Mill Road as it is and has been for many years congested. I cycle in cambridge, frequently over the railway bridge on Mill Road… I have never felt like I was taking my life in my hands doing it. That said I also use the cycle route into cambridge via the carter bridge, depending on where I start off from.

          The only time I have been worried by traffic on Mill Road was when a white van mounted the pavement at speed to park in the area near the NipIn, as it nearly drove into me as I walked on the pavement. Where the pavement is widest it seems to be used as parking for the shops or for Taxis to lurk on.

          1. This is why, in a personal capacity, I am shocked and distressed that the Cambridgeshire County Council have not used the powers which they have had for over nine years to clamp down on this kind of abuse of our pavements.

        3. […] bike bridge[…]

          This commenter made reference to the advantages of cyclists using the Carter Cycle Bridge rather than Mill Road for safety.

          This is a moot point and should be discussed.

          The actual wording has been partially redacted as not conforming to our politeness policy.

          – Mill Road Bridges web editor

        4. Well it might get worse with the closure of the bridge to cars. I saw the demonstration the other day.

          A woman who was part of the demo crew was telling all the cars approaching the bridge from the town end to turn right into Devonshire Road. That is illegal! There’s no right turn allowed there, evidently to try and reduce collisions with bicycles coming over the bridge from Romsey. But where is this traffic going to go now? Either the no right turn prohibition will be removed and the risk of collisions will increase or… what? Where will these cars go?

          And the way to deal with people breaking the speed limit on Mill Road is surely to install speed cameras. I think the accidents on Mill Road are mainly concentrated at the junction with Devonshire Road; it’s not the whole road that is deeply problematic.

          1. The idea is to reduce the car traffic. That’s what’s happening elsewhere, people just start to walk and cycle if they can (I’m all for allowing blue badge holders to drive through and perhaps even taxis if they mind the other road users).

          2. That would’ve been Pamela Wesson who was directing the cars. Apparently she was actually assaulted by a motorist, using his car. She reported this in the radio interview which is links on the blogpost.

            I have enquired about the no right turn prohibition into Devonshire Road. I have been informed that it will be suspended For the duration of the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order.

            It is worth noting that neither Eye, nor anybody I know, has ever known the police to enforce this no right turn order.

          3. I think the accidents on Mill Road are mainly concentrated at the junction with Devonshire Road; it’s not the whole road that is deeply problematic.

            Very sadly, that’s not correct.

            The whole street has a collision problem, a problem which would be made worse by people stepping into the road due to physical distancing requirements. See the data, mapped here.

            Switch on the pedestrian button on this link, and the situation is even worse than it first appears.

    2. The Traders were not consulted. We traders would have preferred a open consultation with everyone, as you say.

  23. Lovely post. Thank you. I’m really looking forward to having a less polluted and safer street. I avoid Mill Road but I was really happy to shop there when it was partly closed last year.

  24. I would just add that although personally I support the closure for the many reasons highlighted, I understand many don’t or are unsure. I feel all of this “all residents think…” are unhelpful, it’s a divisive topic and people will disagree. I’ve also noted some 1980s articles circulating showing this has been a divisive topic for a long time: to me this just shows it has always been a problem forever, not that we shouldn’t change.

    I don’t think graffiti pro and against is helpful at all, neither is mudslinging or characterising all of one “side” as being one type of person.

    I wholeheartedly support Mill Road and its traders even though they are against the closure, which to me seems like an own goal as someone else has said. But i am beginning to feel a little unwelcome with some of the comments on social media from some of them. I really hope the community can get over this, and come together to support the traders. Almost everyone pro the closure has said they will shop more on Mill Road so I’m hoping that helps and maybe the trader association could use their admirable spirit and media savvy skills to promote themselves and the fact MillRoad is open – highlighting that it is open for example as many have said last year they simply didn’t know it was open to pedestrians, and maybe highlighting some of the car parks as even some a Cambridge Residents on Twitter have said they weren’t aware of Queen Anne’s car park. A social media campaign ensuring residents know which shops are open and giving directions may help, or for shops with heavy goods maybe some staff could help people to their car if they’re parked far away (I used to help customers to their car when I worked in a shop that sold electronics).

    Just waffling anyway and was thinking now may be a good time to be practical about what the traders can do to mitigate the impact. I saw the Cambridge Independent front page and was thinking what a wasted opportunity, all those column inches could be used to highlight that the shops are open and ready to welcome people.

    Thank you.

    A thoughtful contribution. Elsewhere, on under-moderated Nextdoor people are becoming intemperate. You could call it a ‘meeting of closed minds’.

    – Mill Road Bridges website manager

  25. When Mill Road Bridge has been closed before, it has displaced a lot of traffic into surrounding roads, making life more difficult for residents, cyclists and others. This measure to aid social distancing might have been useful 2 months ago but that horse has now bolted. I would support a temporary 10 mph limit, or a do not pass cyclists message (like Fenton Road roadworks), but not the proposed closure of the bridge to vans, cars and taxis. Help our air quality, and help the shops on Mill Road by opposing this ill-thought-out and ill-timed measure.

    Thanks for this, Nick.

    If you can provide links to some of the metrics on traffic displacement onto other roads, that would really help to further the debate.

    – Mill Road Bridges website manager

    1. Nice to read such a carefully thought out comment, Nick.

      It’s not just the bridge that’s being changed though. With wider pavements elsewhere, the traffic will have to give way at various points along the road.

      Signs will indicate who has priority.

      This will undoubtedly slow traffic down considerably all the way along the road, and cars will be unlikely to be getting up to the current 20mph limit at any time.

      I hope it doesn’t have the effect of creating more pollution in the area while they wait, and you have to remember that car engines work less efficiently at such slow speeds.

      1. Very good points, particularly the pollution. This scheme will not make the pedestrianised nirvana that some people crave.

    2. I really like Nick’s idea of speed limits of 10 miles per hour and no overtaking of cyclists. I am disabled and have to get around by car and would be very happy to drive around slowly and carefully. I live off Mill Road in Romsey.

      1. Much as some people might appreciate a 10 mph limit, I don’t think either the Highway Authority (Cambridgeshire County Council) or the Cambridge City Council have powers to impose such a low speed limit.

        Unfortunately it has been a thankless task to attempt to get Cambridgeshire Constabulary to engage with vehicle drivers to educate them of the importance of sticking to the existing 20 mph limit and, if necessary, issuing fixed penalty notices and points on licences.

        I recall attending, as a member of the public, one of the city council‘s eastern area committee meetings, a few years back, where a senior police officer was most insulting to the councillors and members of the public present in saying that our 20 mph speed limits were, in his words, “inappropriate“.

        See this table of stopping distances from the Highway Code.

        Stopping distances

        Read more here.

      2. I’m in the same boat. I live on St Philips. Have advanced cancer but do like to get out now it feels a bit safer. But the town side of the road will effectively be out of bounds for me as I couldn’t walk over the bridge without needing a long sit down. Which just isn’t an option. Parking in Gwydir Street is great. But for example driving to Gwydir St is currently a 10 minute round trip. Now (according to Google) it will be nearly 20 minutes each way. Which just means I’ll shop elsewhere.

    3. Yes, Nick, the residents of Romsey and Petersfield mostly live on the side streets and, with the obstruction of Mill Road, for some of us, our narrow residential street will now be a rat-run because an important road into town has been obstructed by the County Council.

      There will be more pollution overall because car drivers will have to take a longer route.

  26. I don’t get why they are making the bridge bus only, when we have all been told NOT to use public transport.

    Narrow pavements on either side mean people tend not to walk side by side, unless already in a social bubble with a partner. Others can manage to walk 2m behind each other just to cross the bridge. It’s not difficult to do that for a short distance!

    The 2m rule is likely to be relaxed soon anyway.

    I don’t believe this reflects the purpose that the money was supposed to be earmarked for. It’s just been seized upon by active lobby groups.

    1. I don’t believe this reflects the purpose that the money was
      supposed to be earmarked for. It’s just been seized upon by
      active lobby groups.

      On the contrary, if anything the Cambs plans as a whole represent a rather lukewarm answer to the government’s statutory guidance, which envisages “a once in a generation opportunity to deliver a lasting transformative change in how we make short journeys in our towns and cities” and says that “the government therefore expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.”

      The bridge closure is in line with one of the government’s suggested steps: “closing roads to motor traffic […] this can create neighbourhoods that are low-traffic or traffic free, creating a more pleasant environment that encourages people to walk and cycle, and improving safety”.

      Statutory guidance – Traffic Management Act 2004: network management in response to COVID-19 – 23 May 2020

      1. I’ve looked at the link, Alex Brown.

        Apart from one mention of bus corridors, I can’t see any mention of this being used as a recommended form of travel for the time being.

        Could you possibly quote the particular lines that justify the use of these funds for this purpose?

        As far as I can tell, we are all being told to keep away from public transport if at all possible.

        1. You’re right: the main thrust of the government’s guidance is encourage a shift to “active” travel; as they say “embedding a long-term shift to active travel as we move from restart to recovery”.

          I don’t know the exact reasoning for maintaining the bus service , but the overall reduction in traffic that will result should at least be in line with the wish to promote walking and cycling.

          1. Exactly. None of us have any problems with the benefits of increased cycling and walking.

            We do have problems with a bus gate being put in which promotes a form of transport which is NOT being recommended at this time and which in fact flies in the face of social distancing guidelines.

            The proposal to install a bus gate on the bridge is NOT in keeping with the specific purposes of these funds.

          2. Although looking again I see one suggested step is “to create corridors for buses, cycles and access only on key routes into town and city centres”. So the Mill Rd plan could be said to be in line with that. In my understanding, funds will not be forthcoming for activities which aren’t in line with the guidance.

          3. A corridor is not the same as a gate. Buses already have access there, so no new gate would need to be created.

            I had already mentioned the corridor in an earlier post as the only relevant mention of buses.

            I an dumbfounded that you are trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes with this.

            Just taking advantage of a time when normal scrutiny has been suspended to push pet projects through.

          4. While it’s often said buses attract disproportionate attention in Cambs transport decision making, I’m sure the case can be made that the bridge closure is in line with the government guidance as written. Whether the bridge should be closed to buses too is a discussion for another time. Personally I think the bus aspect here is minor – the major change is the restriction on all other types of motor traffic.

          5. See my reply to Alex, below.

            I’m not sure that the distinction between ‘bus corridor’, ‘bus lane’ and ‘bus gate’ is well defined. For example, Emmanuel Road is a ‘bus corridor’ by dint of the ‘bus gate’ at Short Street / New Square.

            Neither do I think that Alex is seeking to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. Whether Cambridgeshire County Council is trying to do that is another matter. I couldn’t comment.

            What will be the case, however, is that central government (DfT) funds will only be forthcoming if schemes are in line with the statutory guidance

            What is also likely is that, given the on-the-hoof nature of the DfT proposals and funding and the truncated time-frame, shelved schemes will be taken down, dusted-off and implemented.

            Thus it either is or appears to be the case that pet projects are being pushed through.

            Appearance only? Or conspiracy? You decide. I couldn’t possibly comment.

          6. I agree with Veronica. We are supposed to be avoiding public transport for safety reasons! And the County is in a hurry to spend this “free money” from the government.

            At the moment if you are lucky enough to have a private car (unfortunately, we don’t) this is often the wisest and safest way to travel.

            Now is not the time to make life harder than it already is and as for the poor traders having to put up with this after the disaster of last summer’s collapse in trade on Mill Road and then the lockdown, I’m just speechless at the appalling timing of this measure.

  27. To me this has echoes of the taking down of the Colston statue in Bristol. Council talked about what should be done for years but nothing changed. The same has happened with regards to traffic problems in Mill Road.

    Personally it will be a great improvement for me and my shopping trips there however I know that others will be inconvenienced to varying degrees. Those on all sides of the debate need to write to the council, not just with moans and what is wrong with either the status quo or the experimental regime but also with what they see as solutions. That way it might be possible to learn from the temporary restrictions and get it right in the long term.

    My own priorities would be a complete ban on pavement parking with heavy fines for breaking it and no deliveries to shops between 0800 and 1800Hrs. Again with heavy penalties for those breaking the restrictions.

    And of course, they are never going to get it right for everyone. the other measure that could make a significant difference is a congestion charge. Would those three measures make enough difference to traffic levels and allow unrestricted access across the bridge and make Mill road safe enough during the day for cyclists and pedestrians? I don’t know. Just putting the ideas out there.

  28. Many people furious about this. Please look at Nextdoor to take the temperature of the local population. The comments left here are in no way representative of public outrage.

    There are, indeed furious comments on Nextdoor, Don. However, those comments are inaccessible to anyone who has not been invited into membership of the Nextdoor network.

    The comments on Nextdoor are not, however, all on one side of the argument.

    And some, unfortunately are rather intemperate, as the Nextdoor network is inadequately moderated.

    I have been encouraging all of the Nextdoor members to head over to this blogpost to add their comments.

    Please do your bit to encourage more to comment here.

    – Web Editor

    1. I’m on Nextdoor and I and many others on there are very much in favour of the new measures re Mill Rd.

      It’s very much a mixed picture, not one sided as the above post suggests.

  29. I’m in favour of “The opening up of the Mill Rd Trading Area” to pedestrians. So I hope the downsides of the scheme can be mitigated, accepting that some people will lose out.

    There’s a potential upside to people shopping more locally and not crossing the bridge so much, so some stores might gain. Tho there’s only going to be one Al-Amin. Could they develop a (electric?) cargo-bike delivery service? And we should consider a relaxation outside of shopping hours…

  30. Closing Mill Road Bridge is very inconvenient to disabled residents living south of Mill Road (Romsey). Getting on a bus, walking or cycling is impossible so it means driving the long way round via Cherry Hinton Road and Hills Road or if you can’t drive, a very expensive taxi fare.

  31. A very welcome development. I am sure tweaks will be necessary in response to the evidence this experiment brings, but surely a return to the Mill Rd status quo, with queues of motor traffic belching fumes, is in nobody’s interest. The air in Cambridge has been noticeably better during this crisis.

    1. Alex this scheme will prevent significantly more queues of traffic all over the area around Mill Road, with resulting pollution

    2. Agree 100% with Alex Brown above- I’ve avoided Mill Rd where possible for years as I have mild asthma and bronchial issues which are very much exacerbated by car fumes etc. The pavements are too narrow and it’s just an unpleasant experience for pedestrians to walk along it, as it is.

      I’d love to browse all the interesting little shops there so I’m looking forward to being able to start going to Mill Rd once more.

      When my children were little I also kept away as all the pollution is particularly dangerous for little ones with their developing lungs, brains etc etc- and their heads are just at car exhaust level when in buggies..
      I know many families who would otherwise flock to Mill Rd to enjoy its shops and eateries but who at present avoid the place where possible for the same reason.

  32. It would be very helpful to let people know the shops and businesses are still open, I think, even if it’s just for trader’s peace of mind. There does also need to be consideration for deliveries. However, I’m afraid in being so negative about it generally they have, as Martin L-S says, scored a bit of an own goal.

    If this is done sensibly, as I hope it will be, it has the chance to make Mill Road somewhere people like shopping and walking rather than somewhere they feel unsafe or uneasy about.

    Agree about H Gee’s.

  33. I’m looking forward to the introduction of the new regime. The disabled driver and taxi access issues are a problem but I’ll be shopping in Mill Road when it’s introduced whereas I avoid it at the moment. I hope some of the restaurants will be able to use some extra space for outside tables because with reduced traffic this summer could help businesses get back on their feet.
    Business won’t be what it has been because people will still be hesitant about coming out but I hear that schemes like this have increased footfall in other places. I can’t see why it shouldn’t be the same here. Mill Road’s businesses deserve all the support we can give them. I’m for giving it a go.

    1. There were exactly the same protests in the 1970s from traders (in particular Campkins Cameras) when Kings Parade was closed to traffic. The world was about to come to an end as far as they were concerned. Since then it has become obvious that their trade benefitted enormously by the abolition of cars and consequent improved pedestrian access.

      1. Mill Road is quite simply a much more pleasant, and much safer, place to be when there are fewer cars. No-one is stopping people driving to the shops, shutting the bridge to private cars prevents rat running and encourages cycling or walking at a time when not everyone can use the bus because of social distancing. I am strongly supportive of having the bridge open to pedestrians, cycles and buses only.

        1. You cannot compare Kings Parade with Mill Road, they are completely different. Mill Road is an arterial road serving a large residential area.

          1. You make an interesting point, Nick about comparing King’s Parade to Mill Road.

            If you look at the scan of the Ordnance Survey 1:50 000 1st edition (revised to 1972) King’s Parade was an arterial route at that time. Together with Trinity Street and Bridge Street they formed the A10 through Cambridge. Northbound traffic used Sidney Street.


            The second scan, of the Ordnance Survey 1:50 000 2nd edition (revised to 1985) shows these streets still open to motor traffic but having been reduced to the same status as Mill Road was in 1972, 1985, and is today.

            Before the turn of the millennium, there were signs on the A1134 ring road at the Brooks Road, Perne Road, Mill Road junction signing traffic to the city centre along Mill Road. At some point these were removed as Mill Road became no longer considered of ‘arterial’ status.

            I hope these maps will help bring some clarity to the debate.

          2. Dear Admin, you are correct about 1972, I remember those days. But Cambridge has grown a lot since that time and there are only 4 bridges over the railway. Closing one will displace a lot of traffic into surrounding roads, making congestion and pollution even worse.

            Thanks, Nick.

            I’ll try to find out the pollution and traffic figures– monitored by Greater Cambridge Partnership – for other routes when Mill Road Bridge was closed for railway work in summer 2019.

            – Mill Road Bridges website editor

      2. I’m in the same boat. I live on St Philips. Have advanced cancer but do like to get out now it feels a bit safer. But the town side of the road will effectively be out of bounds for me as I couldn’t walk over the bridge without needing a long sit down. Which just isn’t an option. Parking in Gwydir Street is great. But for example driving to Gwydir St is currently a 10 minute round trip. Now (according to Google) it will be nearly 20 minutes each way. Which just means I’ll shop elsewhere.

      3. However disabled drivers can still access Kings Parade and indeed can park there., which is my main issue with what they have done.

        1. Karen, I thought that some disabled bays had been taken out on King’s Parade because of the anti-terrorism barrier?

    2. My thoughts exactly, Alan!
      I think many of the wary shopkeepers and traders on Mill Rd are going to be very pleasantly surprised by the increased footfall and business this change will, over time, bring…

  34. I think this is a very good idea. I want to support local traders and usually do, but since lockdown I’ve been shopping only at Sainsbury because Mill Rd doesn’t feel safe.

  35. I suspect the reason the county have not banned parking is because traders would then have to park their vehicles in the road, which would completely snarl up traffic. If the vast amounts of through-traffic simply passing through the area, treating it as a traffic conduit rather than a community, were not doing so, there would be plenty of space to park on the road.

    I’d far rather see the roadspace freed up from through-traffic. Vans and indeed shoppers’ cars would then be able to park in official new parking bay spots along the road. I hope the county council is considering this.

    Each sideroad in my view should also have a short-stay parking space and a disabled space added, and the existing cycle parking that partly blocks the pavements similarly should be moved to sideroads or extended into the roadway. It seems silly that the edges of each such street are also residents’ parking – residents can easily park a few metres further up, freeing the space for local shoppers.

    It’s been really noticeable how buses have been running on time now in Cambridge, given that they aren’t stuck in traffic any longer. The removal of through-traffic in Mill Road should mean that bus frequency should be increased (as will need to happen anyway given that fewer people can now use each bus).

    The bridge closure to through traffic should obviously exempt blue badge holders and, in my view, taxis. Though I think the need for taxis becomes less in Cambridge when buses can run to time.

    (The whole taxi situation on the Petersfield side going down Tenison Road is I think because it’s not obvious to station users that buses to north Cambridge actually go via the city centre. So what looks on the screen like a bus every 20 minutes is actually far more frequent. And the bus stops at the station are hideously out of sight, yet the taxi rank is right in front of you – that seems completely the wrong way round to me.)

    The presence of temporary barriers to allow wider footways would almost certainly mean greater delays for people cycling, as people will have to give way. But that seems completely fair enough to me – Mill Road should be a place where people can walk safely and use the shops and cafés as the top priority.

    The current bridge arrangement, where you take your life in your hands every time cycling over, will of course be a much-needed improvement though, even if this is only a temporary measure like the pavement widenings generally. I hope the bridge itself will have some way to have wider pavements – maybe some kind of informal markings? – as that is just as problematic as the main street sections.

    I would like to see some of any temporary barriers be used to house tables and chairs, where the pavements are wide enough for 2m passing, so that the pavements are not used for that purpose. I fear that some traders will find it impossible to serve enough customers without this extra space, whether the physical distancing rule of 2m stays or goes down to 1.5m / 1m.

    Traders complaining about wider footways sounds like a massive own goal to me. Bear in mind that the city centre will have wider pavements to enable queuing, and outside trading space for tables and chairs added. Mill Road will be competing with that new reality. If traders are asking for no change, I know where most people will vote with their feet (or rather their 2m space!), given the national pandemic. If traders want wider footways but no bridge closure, that is asking for two mutually-incompatible objectives.

    At least this year we won’t have a dirty and highly disruptive gas main being dug up for 3 months, or a fire, making the Petersfield side practically inaccessible. H Gee’s, we miss you 🙁

  36. For those stretches of the road where pavement-widening means one-way traffic, does anyone know if there will be room for a cycling contraflow?

    Specific cycling provision at these points remains to be seen. There will, however be no one-way sections. There will, rather be ‘Give way to oncoming traffic’ signs.

    – Mill Road Bridges website manager

    Give Way to oncoming vehicles

  37. Closing the bridge to all cars including those used by disabled drivers who have blue badges/mobility scheme cars just shows how ill thought out and rushed through this is. When the “congestion charge” also proposed closing the bridge to all traffic except buses /taxis the local politicians privately then reassured that this would not happen. Luckily that plan was scrapped. The scheme essentually dismisses the needs of the disabled and mobility impaired in the romsey community. Also the idea that shops on mill road can expand their footprint onto the pavement once it is “widened” out into the road by barriers also adversely affects wheelchair users and the visually impaired. This whole scheme is seemingly being rushed though with no consideration of the impact, by councillors who think bikes are the answer for everyone and dont seem to realise people have mobility issues.

    1. Any car disabled driver or otherwise will be able to get anywhere they want on Mill Road, it may take them a bit longer to get there that’s all. Don’t understand the concern.

    2. I have “mobility issues” and I’m very much in favour of these changes to Mill Road.

      Less traffic and congestion can only help the disabled or those with mobility problems like arthritis etc. For those with any sort of breathing problems like asthma, chronic bronchitis, COPD etc anything which reduces traffic and consequent air pollution is an absolute godsend!

      Wider (and improved) pavements would be great – I really hope that can happen at some point..

      1. There are levels of mobility issues where different amounts of “help” is required to get around […] Mill Road is one of the main roads into Cambridge, closing it by “removing” the bridge to cars will just make congestion worse in the remaining routes into the city. I only advocated keeping the option for disabled car drivers to use the bridge as it is for some the only way to get where they need to go, they should not be further financially penalised for having a disability.

        Minor edit to keep in line with Mill Road Bridges’ politeness policy.
        – Mill Road Bridges web editor

        1. The point about drivers with disabilities (blue-badge holders) is a valid one. Thank you.

          It will be important for blue-badge holders to send feedback on the current Mill Road schemes in the first six months ‘consultation’ period.

          The Experimental Traffic Regulation Order and associated notices are now available on the Cambridgeshire County Council website.

          Mill Road, Cambridge – Bus Gate Experimental Order 2020

          This order prohibits all motor vehicles from using Mill Road Bridge in the City of Cambridge except for local buses and pedal cycles. Closing date for comment is 24 December 2020.

          You can read/download them in the body of this blogpost, here.

        2. Rob
          I am completely aware of the needs of the disabled, and to use the word ‘blind’ about me in order to make your point seems highly insensitive in the context of disability etc (!).
          You have no idea of my level of mobility. My movement problems are besides my chest problems- but why I should be provoked by your rude reply (now thankfully edited I have just seen) to go into such detail on here I’m not sure…please don’t make assumptions about other people!
          But I will also say-my post was far from exhaustive..And I absolutely echo the idea that the needs of blue badge holders etc must be considered and provision made, exemptions put in place for such people etc. where necessary. I am sure that the council has a statutory duty to consider such people and to make reasonable provision for their particular needs.

          1. I was not rude, you seemed to dismiss in your reply the need of some to have to use a car due to their level of disability. You intimated in your post that you had arthritis and that you could travel without using a car but had issues with pollution levels that you seemed to think were of greater importance. (and therefore dismissing the mobility needs of others) .

          2. If not intentionally rude, Rob, your submitted phraseology “you seem rather blind to those who have greater need than yourself” was, at the least, confrontational, and insensitive to people with visual disabilities.

            This is why I redacted those 12 words, but let the comment through.

            We want to keep a great level of debate going and, so far, I have not felt the need to delete any whole comment, nor block anyone.

        3. Excuse me Rob – but you were indeed rude in your reply to me. I think the fact that the editor of this forum says above that he/she has now edited your first reply “to keep in line with Mill Road Bridges’ politeness policy” rather proves that…

          And I did not say I had arthritis at all – just because I used it as an example does not mean that I personally suffer from that particular condition. The reason I mentioned that condition is precisely because in my initial post to which you objected I was talking about these changes and their effects on those who have mobility problems but who can still walk – about the positive impact of possibly wider pavements, less traffic etc.

          As I have just clearly said in my response to your first reply to me, I am completely in favour of special provision being made for blue badge holders etc.

          So please stop accusing me of things of which I am innocent – also, please stop discussing my personal health matters and making assumptions about my health with no proper knowledge of me. You have now made two posts in reply to me both of which contain speculation about my health conditions – please desist.

          I have agreed with you about the need for provision for blue badge holders so I trust I have clarified my position on that and that this personal speculation and accusation can now cease and we can leave it there.

          Thank you.

          And thank you for keeping the right side of the politeness line in this response, Pippa.

          – Mill Road Bridges web editor

    3. I think the previous plan to which you refer was the Peak-Time Closure plan promoted by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (formerly city deal) in 2016 (I think).

      This would have seen closure points around the city in Mill Road, Hills Road, East Road and elsewhere – in operation from 7am to 10 am (I think) – and was widely opposed on Mill Road, East Road and through Newtown.

      Peak time closure illustrative map Sept 2016

      It was viewed by many local people as delivering maximum disruption to local residents for minimal benefit.

      It would, for example, have failed to tackle the long tailbacks from Parkside Pools to the railway bridge at lunchtimes, nor the streams of Barnwell to Grafton Centre traffic on Saturdays and Sundays, whist imposing wildly circuitous routes on people driving to out-of-city workplaces which are not well-served by public transport outbound in the peak.

  38. Thanks for the informative post. Nice to read a balanced piece.
    Personally I think it is good news, I’ve avoided Walking Mill Road for a while, preferring to go through the under cover bridge but with COVID I’m nervous to do that.

    Pavement parking is a problem too, I agree with your points. It’s hard to solve without simply making it illegal or limited – many aren’t loading they’re just parking vans especially near the Nip In end of the street so maybe they can enforce that you can only stop to load not simply to park.

    I do hope those businesses against it can evolve and survive, things like helping shoppers that would otherwise drive to cycle – deliveries for example would take the car numbers down and I’m sure many customers would welcome the convenience.

    I do wonder why this issue is so controversial, it will hopefully make it a nicer environment for most. And of course many people will shop more because Mill Road is less crowded. I don’t know anyone who drives here to shop – lots cycle over from other villages but no one I know drives so hopefully the fears will be allayed and the shops can do well.

    Lots however drive here to walk to town to avoid high car parking charges in the arcade but that’s another story!

    1. Exactly Homebaker123 – I would echo everything you say about this!
      These changes are going to help the local residents,the traders and the visitors to the Mill Road area.

      There are so many people, myself and my family included, who try to avoid Mill Road where possible due to the awful traffic congestion and consequent pollution levels..

      I think many shop owners and traders on Mill Road are going to be pleasantly surprised at the upturn in business these changes will bring… not to mention the cafes and restaurants..

  39. But closing the bridge to everything except buses and cycles IS closing the bridge, in reality. Even if they allowed taxis it would help.

  40. Last year, when the bridge was closed, the Gwydir Street barriers were opened so traffic could escape from Mill Road onto East Road via Norfolk Street. Do you know what the plans are this time?

    Quick answer, Mick, no idea.

    Longer answer, this is unlikely, but I’ll enquire.

    – Mill Road Bridges website manager.

    1. This would be very useful for residents on the Romsey side of the bridge who may need to commute across Cambridge on a daily basis. The barriers currently prevent this which will make it necessary to go the long way round through Cherry Hinton Road or Newmarket Road, both of which are highly inconvenient.

      Thanks for the reminder. I’ve still to investigate. I’m not even sure when the barriers were open. It might’ve been only when the fire at H Gee closed a section of Mill Road.

      – Mill Road Bridges website manager

    2. I certainly hope they don’t open the Gwydir Street barriers. That would be very grim news for North Petersfield residents!
      Did they really do that last year- are you sure?

      1. I’ve enquired about this, Pippa.

        • The Gwydir Street barriers were open at the time that the section of Mill Road between St Barnabas Road and Devonshire Road was barricaded off after the fire at H Gee’s premises.
        • The barriers were also opened at various times by unauthorised people. This was not an official ‘escape route’.
        • No authorised opening of the barriers is planned under the current proposals.
    3. I’ve enquired about this, Mick.

      • The Gwydir Street barriers were open at the time that the section of Mill Road between St Barnabas Road and Devonshire Road was barricaded off after the fire at H Gee’s premises.
      • The barriers were also opened at various times by unauthorised people. This was not an official ‘escape route’.
      • No authorised opening of the barriers is planned under the current proposals.
  41. Outrageous. Cambridge city council are slipping these decisions everywhere. With zero consultation using Covid as an excuse. See also: Nightingale Avenue. Exactly what I’d expect to see from a totalitarian labour council. Commies love this stuff. They’ll certainly know about this at the polling booth. Oh and of course CamCycle must be rubbing their hands with glee.


    Whilst you are entitled to your own viewpoints, which we are happy to publish, you are not entitled to your own facts.

    This was a decision made by Cambridgeshire County Council, which has highway responsibility throughout the whole of Cambridgeshire with the exception of Peterborough. It is not a decision taken by Cambridge City Council.

    – Mill Road Bridges website manager

    1. Indeed, Mill Rd Bridges website manager! 👌🏻
      Nor do I believe is either council Communist run….🤔

  42. Thanks for this good news. I like your idea that the County Council should issue an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order banning vehicles from parking on pavements along Mill Road, as that would immediately wipe out the benefits of wider pavements.

    I’ve avoided walking along Mill Road recently because it is hard to keep a safe distance, especially on the bridge. The council has put useful signs on the bridge asking people to use the north pavement (the Earl of Beaconsfield side) when walking away from the town centre, and the other when walking towards town. But sadly these signs had been vandalised, and people were crossing the bridge this morning in both directions on both pavements, passing unavoidably close to each other.

    1. I agree with you Janet – the signs were well intentioned but the few times I’ve walked over people have been walking on both sides.
      As a vulnerable resident the bridge feels very hostile so I’m pleased we pedestrians can get out again!

      1. I concur. I walk over fairly regularly and many people disregard the signs. It’s not possible to walk around them by stepping into the road if there’s a car or cyclist passing. Optional guidelines are widely ignored, it’s the same in the shops where many people don’t follow one way systems and staff continue to walk past stocking shelves. It’s the same with masks. I observe these inconvenient guidelines primarily because i don’t want to risk making others unwell and have that on my conscience.

        I’m relatively young and at the risk of sounding jaded or pessimistic, in my view a focus on individual autonomy and rights is prevailing in our society above consideration for others or social responsibility

        1. I’d love to say I disagree with you, Matthew, but sadly I can’t. Too many people seem to be becoming more and more careless towards others in this crisis.

          As a shielding household with increased vulnerability due to underlying health conditions, we’ve had countless awful experiences right the way through this with eg our (big name online shopping company beginning with O) home deliveries – with drivers refusing to stop handling our shopping with their bare hands, refusing to keep their distance at our door when requested etc etc… even one (Tesco) who said, after I explained why we were trying to be so careful, that I was stupid worrying as “loads of people have already touched it all at the depot” and then later “It’s just as well I don’t believe in this virus rubbish – it’s all just made up by the government…”

          So yeah – that delivery driver, we could feel reassured, was definitely making sure to antibac his hands after every delivery etc… “Every little helps” after all…

          It is very dispiriting to be on the receiving end of such witless carelessness.

          1. Hi Pippa,

            I think we are actually in agreement for the most part.

            I think the signs should be followed and don’t see any rationale not to simply cross the road to the other payment. The gain outweighs the minute inconvenience. I don’t see the lack of consideration and caution as a good thing, just an unfortunate trend.

            A neighbour told me at the weekend how his countries’ government say it’s a hoax and mocked me for wearing a mask, not realising that my housemate is a carer in an elderly home and that my Mum is infected.

            Hopefully forums like this, which welcome views and have good, even-handed moderation, can go some way to helping to redress the balance. Anyway, thanks for sharing.

            All the best,


          2. Hi Pippa,

            I think we are actually in agreement for the most part.

            I don’t see any rationale not to simply cross the road to the other payment. The gain outweighs the minute inconvenience. I don’t see the lack of consideration and caution as a good thing, just an unfortunate trend.

            A neighbour told me at the weekend how his countries’ government say it’s a hoax and mocked me for wearing a mask, not realising that my housemate is a carer in an elderly home and that my Mum is infected.

            Hopefully forums like this, which welcome views and have good, even-handed moderation, can go some way to helping to redress the balance. Anyway, thanks for sharing.

            All the best,


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