The campaign continues for Spaces to Breathe on Mill Road

This article was published in 2021, in Magazine 152.

A scene from Mill Road before the experimental bus gate was removed.

Camcycle members and supporters spoke to local people in the Mill Road area, delivered leaflets about our campaign, shared photos of a low-traffic street, gave statements to the press, wrote to county councillors to share our views on the improvements needed and addressed the Highways and Transport Committee with a plea to respect the views of the community and think of our children’s’ future. Sadly, at this point, it was not enough. The committee voted 8-7 in favour of removing the bus gate and motor traffic restrictions. Vice Chair Gerri Bird (in place of Councillor Peter McDonald who was unable to attend due to Covid), had the casting vote after the committee vote was split. The key concern was access for those with disabilities, an issue we’d also like to see better addressed.

We were hugely disappointed and believe this decision was contrary to the wishes of the majority of local residents – made clear by the consultation data presented, representations made to councillors and the results of recent elections. It was also an outright failure of the new county council coalition to abide by their promises to put climate change at the heart of their administration.

However, the committee did agree to undertake a full review and consultation on the options for a bus gate with appropriate exemptions; this has since been publicly supported by Mayor Dr Nik Johnson who told BBC Cambridgeshire he was ‘fundamentally wedded to the improvements’ on Mill Road (and on Crescent Bridge in Peterborough, where a pop-up cycle lane was removed). The government has made clear to Cambridgeshire that it cannot fail on active travel if it wants to see further funding.

Camcycle continues to work with the Cambridge community to develop ideas for a vibrant Mill Road that is safe and pleasant for people walking, cycling, trading, and spending time and money on the street. If you want to see traffic reduction on Mill Road, then please write to your county councillors to ensure the new consultation begins as soon as possible.

MILL ROAD BUS GATE SCHEME: THE FACTS

Experimental scheme
An extension of the trial was supported by 62% of those surveyed, with a third wanting it made permanent.

Safety
Over half of those surveyed thought Mill Road was safer with the bus gate and 35% thought the road felt much safer.

Environment
Over half of people surveyed thought the environment of Mill Road was improved and 39% thought it was much improved.

Walking and cycling
The majority of people who walked and cycled on Mill Road responded positively to the bus gate scheme.

Motor vehicles
Vehicle use was 30-70% of pre-pandemic levels, reducing congestion but retaining access for those who needed to drive.

Air quality
The traffic reduction led to decreased levels of NO2, a pollutant which affects health.

Data from reports published by Cambridgeshire County Council. Note that there appeared to be some duplicate responses to the survey which means there may be a margin of error in these figures.