Progress on £24million Milton Road proposals - but 'no magic solution'
Floating bus stops, Copenhagen crossings for cyclists, new cycleways and removal of on-street parking in the plans.
Plans to remodel Milton Road have taken a step forward after years of controversy, protests and hard work.
The latest designs for the key route into Cambridge received broad support from the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s joint assembly today (June 14). The plans are intended to ease congestion, which is expected to worsen as more people try to access the city from new developments in Waterbeach and further afield.
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.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (then known as the City Deal) was accused of trying to push through the scheme against the wishes of residents in the area.
Now, after input from residents’ groups and the local liaison forum – set up to bring residents’ views to the GCP – progress appears to be being made.
Jocelynne Scutt, a Labour councillor who chairs the Milton Road local liaison forum, which represents residents’ views at the GCP, said she was pleased with the way residents had been consulted on the designs, but noted there were still some issues which they were worried about.
“Attention has to be paid to where residents actually live and where they are likely to be crossing,” she said. “Protection of green verges is also important. Generally, there is appreciation for these plans.”
Cllr Scutt said the next step of consultation would need to be “effective and genuine” and that the GCP would need to continue working closely with residents as the project progressed.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Tim Bick agreed that crossing points were important, and said crossings needed to avoid “slicing up communities”.
Some still had concerns about the designs.
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.
Concerns were also raised over perceived “compromises” on cycling infrastructure – namely shared cycling and pedestrian paths.
In a tweet, the Cambridge Cycling Campaign said: “Clearly there is still a long way to go to get a Milton Road design that works for cycling.”
Cllr Bick said there was a time and a place for shared use paths, but said he thought it was “a pity” the new scheme did not address the issue while there was an opportunity for change.
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.”
Features of the scheme
Here are some of the features in the new preferred design which will now go before the GCP’s executive board.
There are designs for the four main junctions along Milton Road:
Gilbert Road – The design offers “complete separation” between cyclist and cars inbound through the junction. It is also proposed to give an advance green signal for outbound cyclists.
Elizabeth Way Roundabout – replacing the existing roundabout with a signalised junction to inlude signalised pedestrian and cycle crossings at three arms of the roundabout.
Arbury Road/Union Lane – There would be a fully segregated inbound and outbound crossings for cyclists while retaining the existing signal operation of the junction. However, it is not possible to create fully segregated cycle crossings between Arbury Road and Union lane
King’s Hedges Road/Green End Road – fully segregated and single crossing pedestrian and cycle features.
• More priority for buses and floating bus stops
• Fully segregated two metre wide inbound and outbound cycle lanes along most of the length of Milton Road separated from the carriageway by planting areas.
• Copenhagen-style priority crossings for cyclists at side roads. An exception to the above is the outbound section of cycle lane between Mitcham’s Corner and Gilbert Road.
• The section of inbound cycle lane between Gilbert Road and Mitcham’s Corner has been placed between the parking bays and the pavement with allowance for a half a meter car door opening “buffer” zone.
• The final concept design included a three-metre wide two-way cycle lane between Ascham Road and Ramsden square (on the outbound side). Any cyclists using the shared use pavement to travel inbound rather than the fully segregated cycle lane on the inbound side of the road, will not have priority at side roads and will be required to give way to pedestrians.
• Removal of on-street parking
In some places, the scheme will remove the ability to park along Milton Road. The project team will work alongside the parking officers at Cambridgeshire County Council to come up with a mitigation plan for residents who are not able to park within their own properties.
• Landscape and environment
The scheme will result in existing trees being replaced with a fully considered and developed tree planting design along the length of Milton Road taking into account relevant design guidance, in particular that developed by the Tree Design Advisory Group.