There is a considerable debate about if access across Mill Rd Bridge should be allowed for Blue Badge holders and Taxis. Cambridgeshire County Council position statement on this follows.
Cambridgeshire County Council Position Statement
Bus Lane & Bus Gate Access
A bus gate/lane is a stretch of public highway where access is restricted to authorised vehicles only. They effectively create a ‘no through road’ for all traffic other than buses and other authorised vehicles (which include bicycles, taxis and emergency service vehicles). By using this type of restriction carefully, the Authority is able to create areas of lower vehicular traffic, thereby supporting sustainable transport methods (cycling and walking). There are also associated air quality and safety improvements that can be attributed where bus gates have been utilised effectively.
Cambridge is a very congested City and, before these restrictions were installed, buses were unable to run to their timetables. Cities across the country use bus gates and lanes as a tool to effectively manage their transportation networks supporting socio-economic activity across the wider community. It is essential, in a City such as this, that an effective public transport system is able to operate.
The Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) for bus gates (Station Road, Emmanuel Road, Bridge Street, Regent Street, Mill Road, Worts Causeway) and bus lanes (Elizabeth Way, Silver Street, Hills Road, Newmarket Road) in Cambridge is for authorised users to drive in e.g. taxis, buses, emergency vehicles. Non-authorised driving in a bus lane or gate, the results in obstruction of the road for, potentially causing delays for public transport users and emergency vehicles. The Enforcement of traffic regulations is vital to keep traffic moving across the City. The TRO for bus gates and lanes does not allow blue badge holders to use them.
Blue Badge Holders
There are over 30,000 blue badges issued in Cambridgeshire alone, 2.38 million held in England as at 31 March 2017, this does not include EU holders who have the same entitlement or figures for badges issued under the new criteria launched in July 2018 to people with hidden disabilities.
Blue badges are issued to a person not to a vehicle, if access was authorised for blue badge holders, it would be logistically impractical to run a bus gate using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology allowing all blue badge holders through. The Civil Enforcement Officer reviewing the infringement would not know if a car was being used by a blue badge holder at the time of going through the camera. Many blue badge holders who do not have a vehicle are transported by family or carers who are permitted to use the blue badge when the badge holder is present, so several vehicles may be linked to an individual blue badge holder.
The Blue Badge scheme helps the badge holder to park closer to their destination. As there are access points both sides of the bridge, there should be no reason for a blue badge holder other than to improve their own travel times. Blue badge holders do not have any exemption to other restrictions such as one way or no entry routes.
Taxis (private hire and hackney carriage) are authorised to use the bus lanes and gates (with the exception of Station Road, as there is dedicated Taxi rank behind Sainsbury’s). Taxis have limited means of access in the city, mainly via the bus gates and lanes and are therefore authorised users for this reason. Taxis provide a form of public transport, the same as a bus. Taxis, where left unregulated on the road, present the same risks to communities as other car users despite being a useful form of transportation.
In communities where there is a high risk of vehicular through flow or areas where there is a high proportion of pedestrians, it may be desirable to limit all vehicular access to decrease community disruption, improve safety for all highway users or to improve air quality. This is something that the considered use of a bus gate can support.
Police and Emergency services – There is currently an agreement with all the emergency services in place, which works effectively. Details of the vehicles are provided to the Councils Parking team who add/remove the vehicles from the authorised users list.
Mill Road Bus Gate & Blue Badge Holders
The intention of the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) for the bus gate on Mill Road Bridge is to significantly reduce overall traffic levels to encourage cycling, walking and modal shift as part of the Government’s reallocation of road space scheme.
To allow blue badge holders and taxis through the bus gate on Mill Road would mean there would still be a significant number of vehicles driving through the bus gate, which would significantly undermine the aim of the scheme. Allowing additional traffic into restricted areas would result in significant traffic management and air quality implications, as well as reducing the overall aim of encouraging cycling and walking and modal shift.
The independent parking and bus lanes adjudicator, the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT), requires consistency and therefore blue badge holders would be entitled to use all bus gate and lanes across Cambridge if permitted to use Mill Road bus gate. New TRO’s and signage would be needed for each location which would incur additional expense.
Should a blue badge holder require access to a site in or off Mill Road, blue badge holders may still park at the locations listed below;
- On single or double yellow lines (where there are no loading restrictions in place) for a maximum of 3 hours, with a valid blue badge and the time clock set issued to them set at the time of arrival, displayed on the dashboard of the vehicle.
- Resident bays with no time restrictions
- Pay and display bays with no time restrictions
- Disabled bays
- City Council surface car parks ( Adam & Eve Street, Riverside, Castle Hill, Gwydir Street)
- City Council multi storey car parks/Shopmobility scheme