Milton Road revamp finally moves forward – but will it work?
After years of back-and-forth and controversy, residents are optimistic that a £24million upgrade of Milton Road is now a step in the right direction.
Although there is still room for improvement, some residents say, and the Cambridge Cycling Campaign has also suggested that more could still be done to make the road better for cyclists.
Although they are still concepts, the latest designs for the key route into Cambridge received broad support from the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s joint assembly this week (June 14).
Peter Blake, transport director of the Greater Cambridge Partnership, the authority granted the funding from government to move forward with the upgrade, said there will be “no magic solution” that will satisfy every user.
Milton Road residents have presented mixed reactions also regarding the underground metro being proposed for the city.
Resident Maureen Mace said cycle infrastructure should take priority over bus lanes, because buses “could well be outdated almost as soon as they are built”.
She said: “What we would like to see is world-class cycling and walking facilities worthy of our reputation as the cycling capital of the UK.
“To improve both there needs to be continuous wide cycleways, protected from motorised vehicles with plenty of crossings, more than shown, because not all journeys go from one end of the road to the other.
“Milton Road is in the heart of North Cambridge, where thousands of residents live and they also need to get around, to the doctors, the schools, the pubs and the shops as well as work, and visiting family and friends.
“The present plan does nothing to encourage modal shift and, although better than the last plans, could be so much better.”
Speaking at the joint assembly meeting, Anne Hamill, a resident of Milton Road, asked whether there was even any point remodelling Milton Road when there were proposals to dig an underground metro system in the city.
She said any metro system would make Milton Road less useful for moving traffic around.
Resident Alex Skinner said: “The plans for Milton Road, though still needing a bit of tweaking, are very promising and show just how much of a difference local councillors and groups can have.
“My main concern is mayor Palmer threatening to try to stop progress on Milton Road while we wait for his metro. Milton Road needed fixing years ago and I can’t see how an underground will make cycling any safer on Milton Road.”
The plans are intended to ease congestion.
Fewer than 24,500 vehicles used the road every day in 2012, which rose to more than 27,000 in 2015. It is expected to continue increasing.
Bus lanes, improved cycleways and pedestrian paths are part of the plans.
According to the report which came before the assembly, the project is on track to be delivered within a £24million budget.
Initial versions of the redesign came in for heavy criticism from residents, who feared the loss of the trees and green verges that line the road. In 2016 there were even protests, with demonstrators putting up banners and tying yellow ribbons around the trees which line the route.
A local liaison forum was set up to bring residents’ views to the GCP. The chair, Labour county councillor Jocelynne Scutt, said progress is being made but the next step would need to be “effective and genuine” and that the GCP would need to continue working with residents.
Concerns were also raised over perceived “compromises” on cycling infrastructure – namely shared cycling and pedestrian paths.
GCP transport director Peter Blake said: “There will not be a magic solution we can come up with because of the demands and movement constrictions in the corridor. The reality is users have a responsibility to respect each other. Experience has told us people interact and the majority of people are respectful.”
The design will be taken to the GCP executive board on July 26 for approval.