Mill Road can’t be viewed in isolation
Sponsored feature | By Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID
Mill Road bridge closed in June 2020 with no consultation – as we were locked down, traffic was quiet, but as the city opened up, congestion grew on other roads like Coldhams Lane and Hills Road, and subsequently air quality fell in those areas. Traffic also returned to near normal on the city side of the bridge as rail station-bound traffic still used the various cut throughs, so no real improvement in congestion was seen here.
The bridge reopened in June 2021. Cambridgeshire County Council, which closed and opened the bridge, has now asked the Greater Cambridge Partnership to consult on the future of the road.
While consulting is better than not, we need to take a holistic view of city access and thus cannot just include one road, or even one bridge on one road. It is not surprising many Mill Road residents were happy with the closure – less traffic, cleaner air, and a nicer environment to walk and cycle. However, once the city did open up and visitors, workers and goods could not easily access the city, then the folly of a single-street solution became clear and it was demonstrated how unequal this approach is.
I wrote recently about congestion charging and resident parking schemes, there were also consultations in the autumn from Dr Nik Johnson’s Combined Authority. When I speak to businesses, everyone knows what the problem is but we seem to be slow at delivering a solution and hence as the city grows, the problem does too.
Buses seem to be a popular solution and, to be fair, many workers would happily travel into Cambridge by bus if they were quick, available early and late at night, affordable, clean and green and the network was more comprehensive. This would make the city more attractive to workers and visitors who can be deterred by the current congestion issues. To really incentivise people to use buses we need them to be funded upfront so they have a positive alternative to their car.
Read previous columns from Ian Sandison and Cambridge BID