Frequently asked questions

Here are some of the questions and concerns that people tend to ask about reducing traffic on Mill Road. Your question not listed? Ask us, and if it’s a question that others are asking, we’ll publish it and our response here.

What’s the overall aim of the project?

Our overriding aim is to make Mill Road an attractive, safe and successful shopping street, while retaining its unique atmosphere. We are against changing its character through gentrification, and instead want to make it popular and accessible to all residents.

When will the bridge restrictions go back in?

There has been a long delay between the spring 2022 consultation results being published in May 2022, the County Council Highways Committee decision in March 2023 to approve a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to put the restrictions back, and the current date. The work to reintroduce the restrictions was planned for October 2023 but a small group of individuals have now issued a legal challenge to the County’s decision to go ahead with the TRO. This is currently with the courts. The County Council’s legal advice was to delay the implementation until the court decided the case. Despite our protests this advice was followed by councillors.

How will your ideas be realised?

Some of our ideas could be implemented quickly and cheaply; some are longer-term ideas. We hope they will act both as a stimulus for councillors and other stakeholders, and as the basis of a meaningful and in-depth consultation with local residents.

The previous scheme which included a bus gate on Mill Road bridge was implemented using an ETRO (Experimental Traffic Regulation Order).

Because any new scheme must have substantial differences to the previous ETRO scheme, the new scheme will be implemented as a standard TRO. This had enabled community-driven consultation and the delivery of changes which will support trade, accessibility, improvements to public space, and active and safe travel. The consultation was conducted by the Greater Cambridge Partnership on behalf of the County Council.

A TRO to reintroduce restrictions on Mill Road bridge was approved by county councillors in spring 2023. Once these restrictions are implemented, our attention will turn to the numerous improvements that are needed to the public realm on and around Mill Road. Our members have contributed many ideas for such improvements which you can read about here

How can I show my support?

If you support our goals, please let us know!

    We will safeguard and use the personal information that you give us (your name, email address, telephone number and postcode) as set out in our Privacy Policy. If you send us this information, you are consenting to us using it as described.

    What about the impact on businesses on Mill Road?

    All retailers suffered substantial impacts to their businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some traders believe that stopping Mill Road being used for through traffic added to their difficulties. Our responses:

    • The Covid related emergency scheme can be vastly improved as we have indicated; this will encourage more people to visit and shop locally. Businesses where similar measures have been taken have reported an increase in footfall and takings.
    • Large new housing developments on and around Mill Road has started to bring significant numbers of new local customers who are likely to favour a pleasant walking or cycling environment.
    • Some customers may have been deterred from visiting some businesses during the period that the bridge was restricted; but using this as a justification for re-opening the road to through traffic discounts the many downsides of returning to a highly congested and polluted Mill Road
    • Traders may overestimate the proportion of their customers arriving by car – for example a survey conducted in spring 2015 in Lea Bridge Road Waltham Forest showed that businesses believed that 63% of their customers arrived by car; a survey of visitors to the street revealed that only 20% had arrived by car. Sustrans report that a study in Graz, Austria, subsequently repeated in Bristol found that retailers overestimated the number of customers arriving by car by almost 100%.
    • This dossier of evidence of the economic benefits of encouraging more walking and cycling was prepared by Transport for London, and links to a number of useful resources on the subject.

    Why not go for a one-way system on Mill Road?

    Some have proposed that a one-way system on Mill Road would be a better solution than restricting through traffic on the bridge. For example see this Next Door discussion. We have concerns about that idea.

    • A one-way system would make bus travel for people living around Mill Road impractical, resulting in a significant extra walk and a longer bus journey. The current bus gate scheme, by contrast, has enabled buses to run efficiently through Mill Road without getting stuck in traffic.
    • It would still leave Mill Road as a conduit for queueing traffic – it’s much harder to create any kind of pleasant environment if you have through-traffic of any significant volume.
    • It would reduce the incentive to switch to non-car modes of travel, as the street would revert to being polluted and dangerous, albeit with all the cars pointing in one direction.
    • Making Mill Road one-way would free up some space for a cycle lane – but would substantially reduce the flexibility needed to add seating / parklets / delivery-bays etc. It would become even more important not to block either the car or cycle lane, because any blockage would bring the car or cycle traffic to a halt.
    • A one-way Mill Road would be impractical for lots of journeys, and doesn’t solve any of the disability access concerns. For instance, assuming you made a one-way system heading into town, i.e. turning Mill Road’s status into a queueing street for accessing the city centre, you end up making it even more difficult people to travel from Petersfield to Romsey, as you now have a queue to leave to get to the inner ring round, and then the long way round.
    • Some have proposed that Coldhams Lane could be one-way in the opposite direction, to create a circular one-way system. But depending on the time of day, this would result in most of the traffic being concentrated on one road, while the other took none. For example if Mill Road was one-way into the City and Coldhams Lane one-way out, in the morning you would have heavy traffic on Mill Road, and in the evening, Coldham’s Lane would be full of cars.

    How can the current scheme be changed to improve access to the street for those with disabilities?

    The previous scheme, implemented as part of the Covid-19 emergency measures, paid no regard to its negative impact on people with disabilities. The ideas under our Make Mill Road accessible to all goal are possible ways of addressing some of these impacts. Crucially we believe that provision must be made for disabled people to play a full part in future consultations on the street.

    Our resources page includes a detailed report on the impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on disabled people.

    What about the impact of displaced traffic on other roads?

    People often worry that traffic displaced from Mill Road will end up in roads like Cherry Hinton Road and Coldhams Lane. We understand that concern and share it to some extent, but believe we should continue to pursue a low-traffic Mill Road:

    • research based on over 70 case studies from eleven countries, and the opinions of over 200 transport professionals worldwide shows that problems of traffic displacement are rarely as bad as predicted, and overall the volume of traffic is significantly reduced; also see this article and this paper about London LTN’s and their impact on traffic levels in surrounding (or “boundary”) roads
    • this study has shown that low-traffic neighbourhoods reduce pollution in surrounding streets
    • in an ideal world we would solve all of Cambridge’s traffic congestion problems in one grand strategic scheme. But the City has been trying to solve the traffic congestion problem for decades, and getting agreement to allow anything to be done on a City-wide basis seems remote. We think we should enhance Mill Road as a low traffic street, while continuing to campaign for other traffic reduction measures throughout the City.
    • a strategic project to look at traffic reduction measures in the east of the City is being run by the Greater Cambridge Partnership. This is the appropriate vehicle for consideration to be given to the wider impact of the Mill Road changes on surrounding streets.
    • Mill Road is significantly different from other roads in the area, and so sees different impacts from traffic congestion. For example the number of shops and hence footfall on Mill Road is much higher; Mill Road is a narrower street with narrow pavements; Mill Road attracts more cyclists

    Further detailed information is available here:

    Is your organisation aligned with a particular political party?

    No. We are working cross-party to seek the best Mill Road for the majority of residents and traders. We have members who are supporters of all the major political parties and none; most of our members live locally, and some run businesses locally.

    How far do people typically drive in congested urban areas?

    After undertaking analysis of more than 30 million anonymous car trips in the UK, INRIX Research found that 67% of all car trips in the most congested U.K. urban areas are less than three miles (18% < 1 mile, 39% 1-2 miles and 10% 2-3 miles) – see https://inrix.com/press-releases/micromobility-study-uk-2019/

    What health benefits result from LTN’s?

    This paper provides strong evidence that motorised transportation imposes a high health cost on society, and specifically children. In contrast, active transport is a very significant health benefit.

    This paper reports on three years’ follow-up in a study of active travel interventions in London. Highlights include:

    • Consistent findings of 41–44 min more past-week active travel, mostly walking
    • Increased likelihood of any-past week cycling
    • Increased likelihood of meeting active travel and physical activity targets
    • Estimated 20 year health economic benefit of £724m from 3 years of interventions costing £80m

    Will overall traffic levels increase after reducing traffic levels on Mill Road?

    Evidence gathered after the implementation of a number of other low traffic schemes shows that overall traffic levels decrease, measured in streets within and outside of the are of the scheme. For example see this study.

    The particular effect of the Mill Road scheme can be seen from previous periods of bridge restrictions, particularly the pre-covid period when the bridge was restricted for works on the railway. See our article on this topic here.

    What are the rules around bus gates and who can be permitted to drive through them?

    You can read a detailed answer to this question on our Resources Page.