Our vision for Mill Road

In our latest Camcycle newsletter, we wrote an article presenting our vision for Mill Road, inspired by the recent closure to through traffic of a section of the road to repair a sinkhole. While the road was closed to through traffic, calm and tranquillity broke out. You could hear people talking across the street. It was at last safe to cycle and Mill Road felt like a place again. Just for two days.

Our vision suggests preventing through-traffic in order to make Mill Road into a place for people with wider pavements, parklets for people to stop in, safer cycling, better delivery bays, improved bus services and a subsequent increase in footfall and customers for local traders.

There have been many ideas over recent decades for ways to improve Mill Road for all users. The sinkhole, which prevented through-traffic along a section of Mill Road, demonstrated that Cambridge did not grind to a halt and that a new Mill Road was possible. Many people commented on how much nicer the road was over the few days of the closure to through traffic. Since then, momentum has been building for some of these new ideas for Mill Road to be further explored and trialled.

While we have recently presented our vision for Mill Road, we know that lots of roads in Cambridge need to be upgraded. Each road will need its own solution, and Camcycle members have also been discussing ideas for areas like Mitcham’s Corner, Milton Road and the Eastern Gate (East Road and Newmarket Road).

Schemes that manage through-traffic and beautify streets to make them more attractive for people to visit have been implemented around the world many, many times. Bridge Street is a great Cambridge example. In fact, 20 years ago when this scheme was introduced, people predicted chaos and terrible times for traders, but now no-one would go back to the days of having all that traffic going through.

We think it would be very cheap to implement our vision for Mill Road. The point where through-traffic is not permitted could be installed in exactly the same way as the other places in town, like Bridge Street, that have the same kind of traffic management. Parklets are fairly cheap, and there is lots of potential for the spaces to be sponsored and for creative people and organisations to come up with innovative designs. The scheme is not a big engineering-type scheme and compared to other projects it needs almost no money and very little time. All it will really take is political will to try something bold. This could be an ideal project for the Greater Cambridgeshire Partnership to implement.

At present these are a set of ideas that we would like to develop further with local people and we hope to organise a big community workshop in the Autumn to further explore the potential for Mill Road.

We would like to see a proper, several-month-long trial to find out just how much these ideas could improve Mill Road. A single day or two wouldn’t really provide the time for people to adapt their travel modes and journey times and to experience the benefits of a Mill Road that is good for people and not just motor traffic.

Camcycle is a local charity working for more, better and safer cycling, for all ages and abilities, in and around Cambridge. To support our work, please become a member. www.camcycle.org.uk