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Traders tell of concern over Coldhams Lane bus gate proposal in Cambridge

Traders say they could be forced to close if plans to restrict traffic along Coldhams Lane with a bus gate go ahead.

Coldhams Lane. Picture: Google Earth Pro
Coldhams Lane. Picture: Google Earth Pro

But some Cambridge residents and cycling campaigners say the move is needed to reduce traffic and make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Cambridgeshire County Council is consulting on two potential locations for an experimental bus gate modal filter, which would mean through traffic using Barnwell Road and Newmarket Road instead.

The first option would be located at the foot of the Coldhams Lane railway bridge, with access to Coldhams Road Industrial Estate from the east of the railway line only, and the second between Brampton Road and Cromwell Road, which could allow local access to the bridge via those roads.

Modal filter access in both options would only be permitted for cycles, buses and emergency service vehicles.

Alex Nichols, managing director at Belfast Beds in Coldhams Road Industrial Estate, said: “I don’t think it’s been thought out at all. The amount of businesses down Coldhams Road which I think would have to close... I don’t think they’d be able to continue if we didn’t have any traffic coming down here.

“I think it’s an absolutely terrible idea. The council will end up with fewer business rates because the business just won’t be able to survive.

Bus lane cameras and signage on Mill Road bridge during the closure, which have since been removed. Picture: Keith Heppell
Bus lane cameras and signage on Mill Road bridge during the closure, which have since been removed. Picture: Keith Heppell

“It didn’t work with Mill Road – maybe they need to look at getting better public transport in place than trying to stop cars completely. They’re going to make it bus only, but I’ve only seen one bus go over that bridge. The whole idea is just not thought through.”

James Hill, owner of St Barnabas Press in Coldhams Road Industrial Estate, told the Cambridge Independent: “People are going to have to take a three or four-mile detour to get to my business. I don’t see how that’s saving on the environment if people are having to take a longer journey. People come for framing which means they’re having to take away things that are glass and coming on a bicycle isn’t going to cut it.

“I would have to think about relocating the framing part of the business, but that would cost an arm and a leg, which may not actually be viable.”

He added: “People will have to come down Newmarket Road and I don’t see how that is going to work as it’s already pretty impossible.”

Our interactive map, below, allows you to see all 12 of the active travel schemes currently under consideration. Click on one of the schemes to see the detail.

Reza Assvadian, of Reza’s Tiles on Coldhams Road, predicted that the Coldhams Lane closure would result in a 30 per cent reduction in trade.

He said: “And also with Covid we are more or less down by 20 or 30 per cent, so that makes it 60 per cent down – I’ll have to come and work for you.

“The person who makes the decision to shut down the main artery for businesses, have they been in business to know the implications of having a business, and what it means to have a business and then hit them with something like that?”

Cambridge cycling charity Camcycle said this week that Coldhams Lane should be a “pleasant residential street” instead of a place where more than “14,000 vehicles speed each week at up to 73mph”. They support the first option proposed by the council.

This view was supported by some residents, while others questioned whether the reliability of bus services was going to be “radically improved” as a result of the filter.

Camcycle said on its website: “The proposed scheme has two options but each has the same goal, which is to remove regional motor traffic from this section of the road while local motor traffic may still access properties and buses may pass through.

“This would have the major benefit of turning Coldhams Lane into a safe residential street overnight, reducing traffic in the entire area, and also cutting congestion for buses and emergency vehicles. The only downside is that some motor vehicle journeys might take a few minutes longer, but this has to be balanced against the fact that local car journeys will no longer get caught in congestion.”

The county council has around £1.6m in active travel funding for projects across the county – and says it is keen to “prioritise changes where there is support across local communities”.

The Coldhams Lane proposal is one of 12 proposed for Cambridge by the county council.

Other current proposals include reducing the number of lanes for cars at Mitcham’s Corner and Trumpington Street, and introducing a modal filter in Arbury Road.

There are also proposals for a modal filter in Chapel Street like those in place around the west of Cambridge on Storey’s Way and Nightingale Avenue.

At Mitcham’s Corner, the plans include reducing the number of lanes for cars and adding more space for cycles as well as “physical segregation with temporary water-filled barriers”.

It is inviting the public to review the ideas and share their views through a short survey. Visit consultcambs.uk.engagementhq.com/cats to respond and ask questions: request paper versions of the survey via transport.delivery@cambridgeshire.gov.uk, or call 0345 045 5212. The consultation runs until September 15.

Read more

Cambridge councillors: ‘We need a citywide transport strategy’

‘Congestion in Arbury Road must be tackled’ say Cambridge residents as debate on closure to motor vehicles grows

‘Arbury Road closure in Cambridge would be social injustice’ say residents

Mill Road bridge closure protest reveals divisions that will take time to heal

Interactive map: The 12 active travel schemes planned for Cambridge roads explained

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