Mill Road: progress at Highways committee

The future of Mill Road was again on the agenda at the County Council Highways Committee Tuesday.

Councillors decided unanimously to accept officers’ recommendations for further progress on Mill Rd. These were:

  • Note the review undertaken by the GCP of Mill Road
  • Agree to consult on a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to reinstate the modal filter on Mill Road
  • Agree to consult on exemptions to the TRO, including disabled residents and taxis
  • Agree to work with the Combined Authority and GCP to develop a public realm improvement scheme along Mill Road
  • Agree to monitor and review traffic levels in surrounding streets should the modal filter on Mill Road be reintroduced
  • Continue to work with GCP on the Network Hierarchy Review of the Cambridge road network.

Thanks to all our members and supporters who have helped us get this far. More work to do, but this feels like progress!

Here’s the statement Katie Hawks our vice chair made to councillors at the meeting:

Katie at the start of the mass Mill Road bike ride earlier this year

Mill Road for People are obviously very pleased that this consultation has conclusively proved what we have always known: that there is overwhelming support for both a reduction in motor vehicles on Mill Road and improvements in the streetscape. The results are absolutely clear cut – not even close – and this gives you a clear mandate to act with speed and ambition. Our understanding is that you will now be consulting on specific ways to implement options 2 and 3 from the consultation. However, there is already clear and explicit support for a filter on Mill Road bridge and we see no reason to delay on this while other less clear-cut aspects of the scheme go out for further consultation.

On the question of a filter, we are and always have been fully supportive of exemptions for blue badge holders. We also believe that taxis form an important plank in enabling residents to cut down on personal car ownership and use. We therefore support exemptions for Cambridge hackney cabs in principle. However, many residents remain concerned about problems such as speeding, pavement parking and close-passing of cyclists by taxi drivers and we would like to see a commitment to dealing with these issues before an exemption is granted.

This consultation showed massive -83%- support for improving the quality of the streetscape. Mill Road for People has many innovative ideas about this, which we will be sharing with you and officers. We urge you to show in order ambition and vision in carrying out the project. As well as honouring the wishes of residents, this will be the best way to support the wonderful local businesses at the heart of Mill Road – anything half-hearted would be the worst of all worlds.

We also want to point out that in the context of plans to reduce traffic throughout the city, this is a great chance to make Mill Road into a blueprint for other low-traffic streets. We all know that traffic reduction is necessary but that its implementation is always controversial. We believe that an attractive and successful Mill Road is very likely to reduce opposition to traffic reduction in other areas.

A final thing we need to stress is that simply reinstating a filter on Mill Road bridge will not be an adequate solution to reducing traffic congestion. When the bus gate was in place previously, we saw an increase in rat-running from Mill Road to Hills Road through streets such as Tenison Road. We need measures to ensure that this does not happen again, and that residents along and near all areas of Mill Road benefit equally from traffic reductions.

I will finish by saying that above all else, we want you to get on with it now. We have literally been waiting for solutions to Mill Road traffic since 1973. There is no longer any excuse for delay.