This is why I like community events that play with maps and encourage locals to come up with their own solutions for local traffic issues on their doorstep.
You may have seen the headlines of the Mill Road Sink Hole. It turned out that this tiny little thing was hiding a huge hole underneath that went up to the shoulders of one of the workmen working on it.
It ended up blocking the road in the middle of a heatwave, and as a result, cars were temporarily banned, making Mill Road something of a haven for pedestrians.
Playing with Mill Road as a case study
Given how unlikely it is for Mill Road to become pedestrianised this side of an underground light rail, I’ve played with the idea of a segregated cycleroute parallel to Mill Road – which looks something like below.
You can click on G-Maps to see the original.
Now, such pieces of infrastructure are not without controversy and will be very strongly opposed by those most affected negatively. In this case, the largest opposition may come from those living on/around St Phillip’s Road who might become concerned about fast-moving cyclists cycling at great speed in a pedestrian area.
From the eastern end by the Cambridge which Cllr Dr Dave Baigent and friends are working on opening up the lakes to the public (see their report here), the ecisting cycle path (“The Tins”) links up the old village of Cherry Hinton, and a number of employers (including a large gym) along Coldhams Lane. A cyclepath could be built from Brookes Road and cut through the dentist’s car park at the back, before heading onto the Brookfields healthcare site – and provide extra footfall for the Edge Cafe charity cafe.
The challenge once we get to St Phillip’s Road is getting cyclists to keep their speed down as it is a straight road. But it is do-able.
The biggest piece of new infrastructure needed is a foot and cyclebridge over the railway line. But this would take a huge amount of cycle traffic off of Mill Road – which is not the nicest of bridges to cycle over, and is also a bridge that in my opinion needs widening anyway. The bridge on the western side would skim the edge of the new Mill Road Depot development, reducing dependency on the car to get out and about.
From the northern edge of the Mill Road depot site that the bottom-right of the picture above, the path heads along Hooper Street, past a couple of pubs and eateries before linking up with the existing cycle route down Gwydir Street, through to Norfolk Street and then onto East Road and Burleigh St. It is possible to link the path to Anglia Ruskin’s entrance by the Mill Road Cemetery, but this would require the purchasing of part of some people’s back gardens, which is not so straight forward.
This gives an idea of the sort of exercises that the Greater Cambridge Partnership should have done in detail, bringing transport planners together with residents across the city and beyond, asking them where they needed to get to, and what their ideas were for building new non-car routes. At the same time, it also enables specialists to discuss with residents what the likely problems and barriers are likely to be – in particular those that residents might not be aware of. (For example contaminated land from industries long gone – as is the case with the Mill Road Depot which is having part of the site decontaminated before homes are built on them).