The restrictions on motor traffic on Mill Road have prompted a lot of debate amongst Romsey and Petersfield residents. The County Council have published a survey asking for your views; and they will use the results to decide whether these restrictions should remain after December.
We think that the advantages of the restrictions clearly outweigh any disadvantages. Why? We have published our thoughts on 3 of the key questions asked in the survey below; please feel free to use these in your response. And in any case, whatever your views, remember to complete the survey!
Question 8: Does the scheme promote equality?
In many ways the traffic restrictions align well with the County Council’s responsibilities under the Equality Act.
- Those with breathing problems e.g. asthma, COPD benefit from reduced pollution
- People with heart problems gain from reduced pollution
- Exhaust fumes actually cause disability / illness – and vehicle exhausts are at the level of young children
- Fresher air may encourage more disabled people to cycle and walk, which in turn is good for their health. Mill Rd has been so polluted in the past that many have avoided it.
- People with mobility scooters, walking frames and sticks have more space, and with built out pavements these people are more free to move around
- Deaf and blind residents have found Mill Road a friendlier environment
- Parent and carers with prams and buggies now have more space
- The community gains when people are on foot or cycling and this is good for people’s mental health
Individuals with disabilities affected by the bridge closure in Romsey can probably be split into three groups. Blue badge owners who drive cars, blue badge owners who don’t drive cars and those with breathing and heart problems that are exacerbated by pollution. Some in the first two groups seek to allow people with blue badges to cross the bridge, I am not against this. Nonetheless I would be against fully opening the bridge on this basis. It would also increase pollution and discriminate against the third group with heart and respiratory related problems (and people whose health is being damaged by pollution such as children).
The reduction in pollution and traffic has made it possible for many disabled people with breathing and heart problems to go onto Mill Rd. Babies/children are no longer subjected to pollutants that would harm their development. Active travel has increased as people get out of their cars and walk and cycle. People with disability buggies and walkies now have the space to use the pavement. In reference to potential discrimination, now that these and others have enjoyed a pollution free atmosphere and increased safety, it could now be seen as discriminatory against them if the bridge was to be opened fully (or even if taxis for example) were allowed as an exemption.
Question 9: The Build Outs
The purpose of the build outs is to enable social distancing. We think the County Council must improve their functionality and appearance. And use some of the hundreds of thousands of pounds they are raising in fines from the bridge to make this happen.
- The build outs have increased public safety by allowing social distancing to be maintained
- The build outs have given the public confidence to use the bridge (particularly cyclists, pedestrians and families with young children)
- Without build outs, vehicles would be more likely to speed down Mill Rd
- Many of the arguments against them are about their appearance; this in turn slants people’s views on how effective they are
- The current locations and style of the build outs should be improved; most residents’ current concerns include the temporary and unpleasant look – the concerns are not about the build outs themselves
- Fines from the bridge or crowd funding could pay for something more substantial, like the planters outside the coop on Mill Rd, or (like a parklet) extending the pavements; this would
- further increase community cohesion
- make it easier to promote Mill Road as a safe and welcoming shopping destination
The buildouts create safe areas of pavement where vehicles are separated from pedestrians, and pedestrians can separate from each other by stepping into them instead of the road. They also are essential to reduce the speed of the traffic.
Previously cars and people on foot/wheelchair were (and still are in many places) literally in touching distance of each other. Allowing people to socially distance during the pandemic is essential and under more normal conditions the separation should continue to allow safe passage of wheelchairs, buggies or pedestrians with shopping (without stepping into a busy traffic lane).
There is pressure for space on Mill Road and we need to provide more for the local community to shop, meet each other and simply be there. Clearly many people can occupy the same space that would otherwise be taken up by through-traffic polluters. The materials used to make the build outs could be improved by building planters in similar fashion to those outside the Coop so that people can relax on Mill Rd. There could also be parklets to develop our community (these could be sponsored or crowd funded like the parklet in summer 2019).
Question 11: Comments on the Bridge Closure
Restricting motor traffic across Mill Road bridge has reduced pollution, improved road safety, enabled social distancing, helped the local economy and generated an even greater sense of community in Romsey.
- Reduction in noise, air and traffic pollution
- The restrictions on Mill Rd Bridge encourage active travel
- The reduction in vehicles reduces noise and air pollution, and has transformed our experience of shopping and socialising (at a distance) on Mill Rd
- The reduction in traffic means that buses can now run more regularly, efficiently and on time
- Enabling higher uptake in use of public transport can reduce carbon emissions from private cars
- Improved road safety
- Mill Rd has never been a very safe place to cycle or walk. The closure has not only reduced the traffic it has enabled an increased sense of community; similar to the one Romsey experienced during the bridge closure of 2019.
- Support for local businesses
- People working from home are likely to increasingly use Mill Rd as a place to walk during lunchtime and to buy lunch/coffee.
- Traders are reporting that their businesses are thriving – particularly the café and evening economy
- New businesses are showing their confidence by starting up on Mill Road despite lockdowns and the pandemic
- Social Distancing
- Pedestrians can now use the road and build outs to increase social distancing
- Greater sense of community
- Public confidence in shopping local has increased as a result of easier social distancing; this has engendered a greater sense of community and greater uptake of shopping local.
- Mill Rd provides an example that can be built on throughout the city
Mill Road is the local high street with shops that are largely able to provide for all the needs of the 20k residents in the area. Indeed, during the current phrase, it has allowed people to shop locally and ‘safely’.
The road and pavements are narrow and year on year polluting traffic increases (circa 10,000 a day). There are no realistic places for polluting commuters to stop and shop without driving onto the pavement. Now the bridge is ‘closed’, traffic has reduced considerably; cyclists and pedestrians are safer, and pollution has reduced significantly. While there is still a way to go, the single largest improvement in air and quality of life in Romsey has been the restriction on Mill Road Bridge. The reduction in through polluting traffic and the introduction of the build-outs has allowed social distancing during the pandemic, reduced danger of injury, and reduced noise and air pollution. Active travel has visibly increased and probably the most used phrase in Romsey is “I would never let my kids cycle on Mill Rd as it was. Now I am actively encouraging them to cycle”. This along with more people feeling safe enough to cycle their children to school, reduces some of the 50% of Cambridge car traffic that currently originates within Cambridge. With less through traffic on Mill Road, buses can run on time and thus be more attractive alternatives long term, to car travel.
One third of the shops on Mill Rd sell food to eat on the premises. This has visibly increased since the traffic has reduced and has resulted in a visible increase in community spirit. There has been some initial criticism from the traders, but this was early on and has fallen away. Some people have argued this closure is restricting access but the whole of Mill Rd can still be reached by a car and buses also cross the bridge.
Many of our residents are now working from home. If this continues as expected after Covid then these people are likely to use Mill Rd during their lunchtime as a means of leaving their home. Some of the traders are offering outside eating spaces and this is because the pollution and noise has all but disappeared. Who wants to eat out and breath in pollution? Thanks to the Bus gate, the sense of community is improving as it did last year when the bridge was shut. Covid has changed people’s shopping behaviour and increased a desire to stay local, especially with many working at home instead of traveling to a distant office.