Camcycle is encouraging the Mill Road community to share positive visions for the future of the street through a new campaign called Mill Road 2021. The charity would like to hear of the ways the road could be celebrated and shaped into an even better place to shop, travel and spend time together when the risk of Covid-19 subsides.
Despite many challenges, the pandemic has meant local neighbourhoods have pulled together more than ever through mutual aid support, and the first lockdown gave a glimpse of a different world of birdsong and reduced traffic. A UK survey conducted in April showed that 91% of respondents did not want life to return to ‘normal’ after the pandemic, welcoming changes such as cleaner air and a stronger sense of community.
Sam Dyer, a local resident and director of Cambridge Sustainable Food which has been coordinating the emergency food provision in Cambridge during the pandemic, said that there had been huge amounts of change to the Mill Road area during the 35 years she had lived there, but the pandemic period had given a glimpse of what was possible if we worked together to tackle climate change.
She said, “I am super excited to see the possibility of Mill Road changing and becoming part of the solution rather than a clogged up, congested, air-polluted street. One particular morning [after the bus gate was installed] I walked out and the air was crystal clear. And I walked out onto Mill Road and the road was crystal clear and I could hear the birds singing. And to me, that was fantastic. I’m exceptionally concerned about climate change – we HAVE to change, otherwise the world will change for us and we won’t have Mill Road. So, why not be one of the leading lights in the country and in the world? Get rid of the cars where we can – obviously I still believe in access for disabled access, for buses – but what an amazing place it could be.”
Camcycle calls on Cambridgeshire County Council to extend the experimental bus gate scheme and encourages other local residents and those who work and travel on Mill Road to show their support and submit suggestions for any changes needed.
Camcycle would like to see amends made to the pavement-widening ‘build-outs’. These should be made more attractive with planting and rebuilt in a way that improves access. For example, replacing the plastic barriers with temporary pavement-level tarmac would make it easier to cross the road at these points and easier for those with visual impairments or using mobility aids to navigate. Camcycle would also like to see delivery and disability car parking improved, better promotion of local shops, and space allocated for outdoor seating to help local food businesses during the pandemic.
The county has a consultation on the bus gate scheme open until 24 December. We encourage you to submit comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and complete the consultation survey. You can find out more about Camcycle’s campaign at camcycle.org.uk/millroad2021