This article was published in 2019, in Magazine 145.
Upcoming city council trial of anti-terrorism barriers on King’s Parade to allow just 1.2m for cycle access
In March 2019, councillors at the city council’s Joint Area Committee discussed a report by counter-terrorism police that identified a ‘number of vulnerabilities to a potential attack’ in King’s Parade. It noted that unlike other cities in the UK, Cambridge had not taken any proactive steps to protect visitors from the threat of vehicle-borne terrorism. One of the report’s proposals was to install a physical barrier north of Bene’t Street, and funding for a temporary trial of a barrier was subsequently agreed by the council’s strategy and resources committee on 7 October.
Although the barrier will have a positive impact on walking and cycling in King’s Parade by restricting motor traffic to the street, we are concerned about the proposed design of the temporary structure which will be in place for up to 18 months. Cycle access will be restricted to a gap of just 1.2m outside the morning peak (when the barrier will be open). This is one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares with heavy two-way cycle traffic of all kinds, and a key route for students travelling between lectures. The gap will cause issues for larger cycles (many of Zedify’s delivery cargo bikes are 1.2m wide) and is likely to lead to some cyclists choosing to use the adjacent footways illegally, causing conflict with pedestrians.
We first raised issues with the design back in March and have continued to press for further consultation, along with several councillors who share our concerns. However, Councillor Lewis Herbert, leader of the city council has said: ‘Given the pressing security priority, it is an unavoidable decision to put in a temporary closure at the earliest opportunity’. At time of writing, no implementation dates have been released.
A vision for Mill Road that makes space for people
Following the temporary closure of Mill Road bridge over the summer, we continue to stimulate discussion on how to improve the road for pedestrians, cyclists, local residents and traders. On 8 October we attended a public meeting at St Barnabas Church to discuss how a vision for Mill Road might fit into the city council’s Making Space for People consultation, which was considering how to improve the streets and spaces in central Cambridge.
Romsey Councillor Dave Baigent chaired the meeting and described the vision needed as one ‘that would find ways to create an Opportunity Area to support the interests of Mill Road’s characteristic smaller independent traders, the vitality and viability of our road and protect and enhance its unique character’. Councillor Katie Thornburrow, Executive Councillor for Planning and Open Spaces, spoke about the consultation, followed by Kieran Perkins on behalf of Cambridge Architects, Association, who had prepared some ‘vision’ images for the street.
We had publicised this event through delivery of another issue of Mill Road Cycling News and there was a large turnout of over 150 people. Those present divided into smaller groups to discuss ideas for change around the themes of Green, Health, Welcoming and Well-Curated before having the chance to speak in an open forum session.
Several Camcycle members spoke at the meeting and others have shared opinions on Cyclescape, our members’ forum. We continue to develop our own Mill Road vision, first published in August 2018, refining it based on feedback from the local community, data coming in from the bridge closure period and further research into the options. Only four people at the Mill Road Vision meeting were happy with Mill Road in its current state, so we remain determined to work for change that will benefit all those who live and work in the area.