The outcry over LTNs is not a culture war – it’s more serious than that

Map by LiveWestEaling

We knew the latter half of 2020 would see arguments about Brexit, lockdown restrictions, masks and the US election. What we didn’t foresee was that, in many places, the row of the summer and autumn would be about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – LTNs for short.  I had never heard of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods until June of this year, when I was told that one had been proposed for an area near where I live. Even after someone had explained it to me, I still didn’t really get it. It was only when I saw this map that I realised what Ealing Council was trying to do.

It is a very cleverly designed traffic system that ensures everyone still has motor vehicle access to their homes but makes it impossible to use the side roads to drive between any of the major routes. As with so many things, there was not much discussion about it until the day the roads were blocked. Then it all kicked off. I soon discovered it was kicking off all over London and in many other cities too

The speed at which LTNs have suddenly become topical is due to the speed at which they have been implemented. Councils were given special powers to set up LTNs with a week’s notice and to carry out the consultation period after the implementation, using something called Experimental Traffic Orders. As could have been predicted by anyone who knew anything about human behaviour, the people being experimented on didn’t like it very much. 

Local authorities came in for a lot of stick. There was a suspicion in our area that Ealing Council was using the Covid pandemic as cover to implement a radical cycling agenda, the council leader being a keen cyclist. But, while some councils might have been enthusiastic, the drive for LTNs has come from central government. Local authorities have been strongly advised to implement such schemes and told that their transport budgets may be cut if their schemes don’t measure up. The speed of implementation is accounted for by the fact that there was a narrow window to bid for government funding. Councils were therefore in a race to get financial support to implement the schemes. The losers risked a double whammy of failing to get funding and therefore seeing their budgets cut next year for not doing enough about ‘active travel’.

If that sounds far-fetched (which it did to me when I was first told about it), check out the initial statement from Grant Shapps in May:

The government expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.

Followed by the detailed report, signed by a smiling Boris Johnson, in July:

There will be first hundreds, then thousands of miles of safe, continuous, direct routes for cycling in towns and cities, physically separated from pedestrians and volume motor traffic, serving the places that people want to go. 

And how are councils meant to do this?

Low-traffic neighbourhoods will be created in many more groups of residential streets by installing point closures – for example, bollards or planters – on some of the roads. It would still be possible to access any road in the area, but motor traffic would not be able to use the roads as through routes. Streets within low traffic neighbourhoods will provide clear, direct routes for cyclists and pedestrians promoting walking and cycling. 

What if the councils drag their heels?

Many schemes take too long to get started and too long to deliver once they have been started. All future funding will be conditional on work starting and finishing by specified dates.

Those councils that don’t implement enough schemes will face the wrath of Active Travel England, a new Oftsed-style inspectorate:

From next year, Active Travel England will also begin to inspect, and publish annual reports on, highway authorities, whether or not they have received funding from us, grading them on their performance on active travel and identifying particularly dangerous failings in their highways for cyclists and pedestrians. 

Active Travel England’s assessment of an authority’s performance with respect to sustainable travel outcomes, particularly cycling and walking, will be taken into account when considering funding allocations for local transport schemes. We will consult on introducing new criteria to measure local highway authorities’ performance in respect of sustainable travel outcomes, particularly cycling and walking, when considering funding allocations for local transport schemes. 

Nice transport budget you’ve got there. Wouldn’t want anything to ‘appen to it, would yer?

The government is not messing about here! It is determined to see Low Traffic Neighbourhoods implemented and it will beat councils up if they don’t comply. It’s no wonder, then, that hundreds of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods have appeared all over the country in the space of a few months.

In many areas, opinion has been bitterly divided. The vitriol on social media appears, to me at least, worse than that over Brexit. Bollards and planters have been vandalised and people have been threatened. This has led some to characterise the battle over LTNs as another front in the culture wars. It’s a compelling story – yet another divide between the Remainers and Brexiters, the conservatives and liberals, the Somewheres and Anywheres. Now we can add the petrolheads and white van men on one side and the eco-warriors and cycling lobbyists on the other. 

Compelling but wide of the mark. As a proxy for the other culture war divisions, the LTN controversy doesn’t really work. The text of the article that appeared in the Observer with the ‘culture wars’ title actually went to great lengths to explain how diverse the supporters and opponents of LTNs are. My area has become, in many ways, the epicentre of the resistance to LTNs. It is from the neighbouring Northfield ward that the legal challenge to LTNs has come. Two veteran local campaigners both of whom I have got to know recently as they have been very helpful to me and my neighbours over our own local difficulties, have found themselves on opposite sides of the LTN argument. The one leading the charge against LTNs is a leftie Remain voter whose hero is Tony Benn. At 71 percent, Northfield was the 22nd most Remainy ward in the UK. Another area where there is a significant anti-LTN movement,  Lewisham, voted 70 percent for Remain. If the data is available, someone with more time than I have might want to map the referendum vote against level of opposition to LTNs. Given that most of the LTNs are in urban areas, I’d be surprised if it showed that the Remain/Leave split is much of a predictor of views on LTNs. West Ealing is not Farage country by any stretch but many of its residents don’t like LTNs.

It is also likely that social media is giving a distorted sense of the level of polarisation. Most of the people I speak to have mixed views but Twitter and Facebook seem to be split into hostile camps. Research on the discussion of LTNs on Twitter by social network analyst Jimmy Tidy found that 50 percent of the activity on Twitter came from just 20 accounts. A few very convinced and very vocal people are shaping the online debate.

The politics around LTNs are similarly complex. Ealing’s Labour council and most of its Labour councillors that have expressed an opinion are in favour of LTNs. One of its Labour MPs has criticised the schemes. Conservative councillors in Ealing and Hounslow have attempted no confidence motions against the Labour administrations, yet it is difficult to accuse councils of doing anything other than what the Conservative government told them to. The claim that many of the LTNs are poorly designed doesn’t really stand up. Yes, planters and bollards are a nuisance but that’s what’s recommended in the government report. Sure, they inconvenience people but that’s what they are supposed to do. They are meant to discourage people from driving along side roads and from making short journeys by car. The inconvenience is not a bug, it’s a feature.  Grant Shapps has flipped backwards and forwards, colluding with his party’s councillors while still trying to stick to the government line. He has admonished councils to implement LTNS, threatened to punish them for ‘poorly designed’ schemes, told them to get on with it and not be derailed by noisy opponents, threatened to reclaim the money granted if they don’t consult, then re-iterated his earlier threat to hammer their budgets if they don’t get with the LTN programme. Perhaps a man who ran businesses under assumed names finds it easy to dissemble but the mixed messages are certainly confusing for everyone else. 

Some of this will, no doubt, strike those of you with long memories as a bit odd. This is a Conservative government deliberately making it more difficult for people to use their cars. Margaret Thatcher, it is said, was not particularly interested in public transport, because ‘our people drive’. The Tories, being the party of the more affluent suburbs and smaller towns, were also the party of the habitual driver. Whatever else, this campaign for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods doesn’t sound very conservative. 

Things have changed since the 1980s though. After a fall in the mid 2000s, traffic levels are increasing again. It is likely that Covid will encourage more people to take to their cars, given that it is the only way you can move about while self-isolating.

Chart by Department for Transport

In London, the entire net increase in traffic has been on minor roads. The development of satellite navigation and associated apps have opened up streets where previously only those with local knowledge would drive. Using real-time data, powerful algorithms are diverting vehicles down whatever roads are available in a given area. Traffic has become like water, flowing along the shortest route to a given destination and automatically changing direction when obstacles are placed in its way. It is reasonable to assume, at least in London, that without sat nav, the increase in traffic would not have been possible. 

Chart by Department for Transport

This presents a problem for councils of all political colours that had been trying to reduce the level of traffic in their boroughs for some time and, until recently, thought they were succeeding. It also doesn’t bode well for the UK’s carbon emissions target.  Achieving that would have been difficult enough even with a gradual decline in road traffic. The jury is still out on whether or not LTNs have much impact on the level of traffic or vehicle emissions. Supporters will point to Walthamstow as an example but the very fact that the same survey comes up so often is indicative of how little robust evidence there is. There is some evidence to suggest that, over time,  LTNs discourage car ownership but the authors of the study carried out in London concede, “Sample size for LTN areas is small and hence uncertainty about effect magnitude is large.”

But even if LTNs were proven beyond doubt to reduce levels of traffic and emissions, I suspect it would have little impact on the debate. LTNs require a significant shift in behaviour and such things are not generally popular.

The row over Low Traffic Neighbourhoods may turn out to be a storm in a teacup. Maybe we will just get used to them or perhaps the opposition will kill the idea stone dead. The outcry does draw attention to an important question though. Most of us recognise, at least in the abstract, that we will need to change our behaviour if we are to have a hope of even slowing down the rate of climate change. The government’s emission targets will be unachievable without reduced car use. But that ‘we’ is abstract and somewhere in the future. I’m reminded of St Augustine, who is supposed to have said, “Please God, make me good, but not just yet.” Supporters of LTNs point to a survey (which I can’t find online) that says most people are in favour of such schemes. Opponents argue that a majority of people who actually live in LTNs don’t like them and point to the large turnouts at demonstrations. It is quite possible that both are right. 

When cities have been designed and lifestyles have been built based on decades of assumptions about the availability and speed of car use, it is very difficult to change behaviours overnight. Yes, I know reducing the number of short car journeys is a good idea but not in my area, or, at least, not yet. Yes, I know we have to save the planet but right now I need to get to West Ealing Sainsbury’s for my weekly shop and I’m annoyed that I have to do a 270 degree journey to get there. The row over LTNs isn’t a culture war, it’s a microcosm of a much more fundamental question. How the does a society built on fossil fuels shift its behaviour quickly enough to have an impact on the looming climate change catastrophe? It’s a question that’s not going to go away. 

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24 Responses to The outcry over LTNs is not a culture war – it’s more serious than that

  1. Excellent piece – thank you.

    I would add only that LTNs are far from new – although the phrase itself is new. London (and probably many other cities) has lots of closed off residential streets. A particular problem in our part of South London is that this has caused a huge increase in rat running through our area, where previously other short cuts were available.
    A little further information is here:- https://www.saveovalstreets.org/ltn.html

    • Dipper says:

      Certainly not new. In my years in Leeds towards the end of the last century many of the Terraces had been blocked to avoid cars using them as rat runs, which was annoying until you accepted the inevitable wait on the congested main roads.

    • Mr Streakier says:

      Agree – nothing new. It’s also worth observing that the vast majority of post-war housing estates were built to explicitly exclude motorised through-traffic, with planners recognising the blight that it imposes on residential areas. Around me in a circle, Tulse Hill Estate, the Herne Hill blocks, the Loughborough Park Estate, the Loughborough Estate, Southwyck House, Edmundsbury Court, Arlington Lodge, Angell Town and the St Matthews Estate all exclude through traffic. The same goes for the postwar housing estates south of Oval station.

      Main roads are, to some extent, designed better to take high levels of traffic, but residential Victorian side streets are uniquely unsuited. Round me, there is plenty of social housing in Victorian terraces. To me, this gives the lie to the argument that LTNs represent social injustice. Given that children of the most deprived socioeconomic group are up to 28 times more likely to be killed on the roads than those of the least deprived socioeconomic group, overall traffic reductions are a positive step for social justice – and there is plenty of evidence that LTNs deliver that, even if they may move some residential side street traffic back onto main roads.

  2. thelyniezian says:

    Even as someone who is normally in favour (in theory anyway) of more walking and biking and fewer cars, I think it’s a stupid idea. I don’t even think the idea of blocking off part of streets to motor traffic when the residents want it- to reduce “rat runs” down side streets- is a good idea.

    The only way to really reduce motor traffic ultimately is to make people *want* not to use it, and give them the options not to. Whether it means increasing public transport porvison, or alterting planning of workplace loacations to take things back out of out of thee way business parks and industrial estates, to more working fornm home which seems to have prved more “doable” during this pandemic, to even losing some ofthe out of town shopping places… and I don’t know what any of that means for London, since I’m elsewhere in the country. But these schemes seems just to create yet another layer of inconvenience for people who, by and large, let’s be honest, aren’t getting out of their cars any time soon. And they are going to get rather annoyed.

    • 2WheelsGood says:

      No part of any street has been blocked off by any LTN implementation under the current scheme so your objections is built on a the wrong premise.
      LTN have the dual effect of making it less convenient to drive and more comfortable to walk and cycle. It’s a double whammy.
      Obviously, it’s not a silver bullet and will only work as part of a wider strategy but it’s not “stupid”.

      • abradacamera says:

        It is stupid, because you fans of it have failed to know about and understand the nature of “loss aversion”.

        If you’re looking to change people’s outlook and behaviours, a bit of basic psychology reading wouldn’t go amiss.

        All your LTN schemes are doomed to failure, because your fervent enthusiasm for the change you’re hoping for is eclipsing your capacity to imagine other people’s perspectives.

        A minefield of unforeseen consequences is opening up before you, and you’re so obnoxious in your pursuit of your agenda that you refuse to read the signs at the edge of it.

        Wandsworth has already spent their money and spent it again removing these stupid schemes.

        Imagine instead had we spent the money on a massive programme of road user education,

        You’re doing it wrong.

        • Anders says:

          Road user education…can you elaborate on how this would reduce pollution and emissions and make families feel safer taking children on bikes etc? Or do you not see these as worthwhile objectives?

        • jimmytidey says:

          Loss aversion is an interesting framing, and I absolutely think it plays a significant role.

          It does cut both ways though – if you try to remove an LTN, residents are likely to be ‘loss averse’ and strongly protest the loss of the quiet street, the increase in local pollution, dangers to children playing etc… even if they never protested about traffic before the LTN.

          Education could certainly be a part of a reduction in using cars, but on it’s own I’m not sure it would cause a significant change.

  3. Bob Haberfield says:

    A fairly well balanced article but a couple of extra points I’d like to mention regarding my local LTN. The creation of the gentrified Hither Green LTN in a mostly affluent area has displaced traffic to the main roads outside of it where a high percentage of poorer/BAME live. With displaced traffic comes displaced pollution. A recent inquiry found that pollution was a cause of Ella Kissi-Debrah’s death, Ella lived on the South Circular road, a road that often come to a standstill with displaced traffic, it’s more polluted now than when Ella lived there. The displaced traffic does not just affect the area just outside of the LTN, it’s causing far reaching queues and gridlock over a large area of SE London. Rat running has now increased in the borough and neighbouring boroughs rather than decreasing as motorists try to find ways of avoiding the gridlock, unheard of before but we now have queues forming in narrow residential roads. As rightly mentioned in the article the only way of improving things is to reduce the use of cars but the LTN’s are not achieving just displacing them.

    • Editors says:

      Mostly helpful, yes but (i) if LTNs increase congestion on perimeter roads that should help to reduce overall car use, (ii) The class balance of impacts will need careful study and will be dynamic – in the sense that changed neighbourhood attributes will create new things for the rich to avoid by using their market power. Expanding non-market housing would help a bit & changing driver habits/modal choice too. The air quality aspect would be helped by electric vehicles including delivery robots. Michael Edwards

  4. abradacamera says:

    You seem not to have mentioned that the current effect of LTNs is that they’ve caused considerably more pollution and congestion by making all journeys within the area they’ve been imposed on significantly longer and slower.

    So far, LTNs have improved absolutely nothing, and in Ealing they have no chance of success even within the remit of their own terms because virtually all Ealing’s roads are residential. The LTNs’ only achievement so far have been to generate a whole new tier of bitter societal division while increasing the pollution they were supposedly designed to diminish.

    What we should really be doing with all this money that’s being frittered away on ill thought out road schemes is spending it on road user education, encouraging urban drivers to go slower and give cyclists greater consideration. Imaginary cycle lane wands, for instance, would be much cheaper to install, and the beauty of them being imaginary would be that when there are no cyclists, which is often the case, there would be no wands either.

    The net effect of this idiocy will be to discredit green causes and enfeeble their democratic support. Already significant swathes of people loathe and despise their previously somewhat unfamous local councillors and have pledged they’ll never vote Labour again, having seen how smug and arrogant their local councillors are capable of being when confronted with a tsunami of evidence that their constituents are unhappy with their policies.

    You’ve also missed the essential information that LTNs are the brainchild of cycling lobbyists the London Cycling Campaign, who’ve been absurdly successful in their attempts to present them as an off the shelf solution to policy makers: https://londonlivingstreets.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/lcc021-low-traffic-neighbourhoods-intro-v8.pdf
    They even have a complete guide to councils and activists telling them how to counter opposition – https://www.lcc.org.uk/pages/countering-opposition – the recommendations of which are essentially the same sort of tactics that have proven so successful when employed by the various denizens of 55 Tufton Street.

    So it is a culture war really, and the bike lobbyists, usually men of a certain age and class with nice cushy office jobs, selfishly imagine everyone else’s life to be like their own and seek to mould the city-scape in their own image of themselves. As far as they are concerned, if you are old or infirm, need an ambulance or health visitor or meals on wheels to call in on you, or if your house is on fire, or you don’t have the confidence or inclination to cycle… well, you can go to hell, because that’s not a problem they’ve encountered in their own lives, and therefore not relevant.

    Many of the most fervent campaigners against LTNs in Ealing are women with caring responsibilities whose lives are already stressed to the max. Then these half-lidded mansplainers show up and close of all their routes to the people they love and care for, making what was a five minute car journey into a half hour one. That seems to me to be a pretty significant cultural divide.

    Men like to build things and point to them and boast of what they’ve achieved, and this is especially true of this genre of man. They all have Ozymandias Syndrome – “Look upon my works!”

    Their essential tragedy is that their works are not going to cultivate the changes in behaviour they were designed to create. They’re just going to breed bitter resentment and create a store of frustration and anger ready and primed for some cynical politcos to exploit.

    Does that sound familiar as a syndrome? It should do.

  5. Ron says:

    And what if the people who live on designated “main roads”? Not a mention. I assume they are just pawns to you in all of this.
    It takes 60 steps to walk along my block. In that space there are 21 homes. They are not merely “flats” or “units”, they are homes, with families and children, who are growing up and walking to school past queues of traffic made worse than ever by the implementation of an LTN, which, according to you, can’t possibly have been badly designed, because you seem to believe that design is about methods for blocking off roads, not which roads are actually blocked off.
    Yet if you walk 60 steps into the LTN from the nearest road block, you pass 8 homes. All big ones, with drives.
    21 homes v 8 homes. Some believe that by costing more, the 8 homes are entitled to cleaner air than the 21 homes. They already had that, obviously, as they are on quiet side roads (no one was suggesting they closed the main roads to divert all the traffic their way), but they now have largely car-free roads and dump all the pollution, plus they added pollution caused by cars on elongated detours, on the people that already suffer it the most.
    Cars haven’t vanished and homes on “main roads” have had to deal with the curse of through traffic for years, the LTN has assured me that our local council don’t care. A few years ago a ward councillor phoned me up to beg for my vote at an election. I mentioned pollution on my road. “Trust me, we’ll sort it.” he said. He lives inside the LTN.

  6. john carrick says:

    Without trying too hard I can see the following objections to LTN’s
    They focus more traffic on to congested main roads ,increasing the mileage of local journeys, slowing that traffic down and causing more stop start, more gear changes, more stationary traffic belching out exhaust fumes , more fuel consumption and more CO2 emissions. They increase journey routes and times for emergency vehicles, local delivery services, which are clearly increasing, more reversing and turning (amongst the most dangerous of road manoeuvres, especially in areas where children are likely to be present) as people realise their preferred shorter route is not available, more signage , more road furniture …..
    If I were to think it through longer I suspect my list could expand. Pity neither the central nor local governments took the time to fully consider the proposals or their implementation.

  7. Michael Roche says:

    If you want a nice example, look at the city of Ghent, Belgium. They cut the city center in 6 pieces. Contested at first, but at the next council elections not a single party wanted to abolish it completely.
    Of all the opponents, the only one with some valid argument are those who live at the remaining passthrough routes that have increasing traffic. But if you bought a house at a very busy road, stating that it is now even busier is not a very good argument.

    • abradacamera says:

      The greatest down side of your argument is that Ealing is not in Belgium.
      Belgium is in the EU, for a start, and Belgium’s politicians don’t operate an absurd winner takes all political system based on confrontation, bluster, backwardly engineered evidence designed to shore up faulty policy and downright lies, which is the unfortunate British way of doing things lately.

      There are already parties in Ealing that oppose Ealing’s LTNs, so that’s the end of that argument right there.

      But the most despicable argument you’ve advanced is the “screw the people who bought a house on a busy road, they knew what they were getting into, too bad if it got even busier” one. Shame on you for that. Using the same logic, anyone who bought a home in a road where there was access to several routes out who now finds they are restricted to only one can justifiably complain that their expectations at purchase have been destroyed. It might be exactly why they bought the place… because, y’know… location, location location.

      Congratulations on matching the obnoxious tone of the zealot that many pro LTN folk seem to wallow in though. You’re right on point there.

  8. An interesting article. The survey is here but not particularly up to date: https://enjoywalthamforest.co.uk/work-in-your-area/walthamstow-village/comparison-of-vehicle-numbers-before-and-after-the-scheme-and-during-the-trial/ There were a few omissions from the survey like the effect on St Marys road. Fulbourne rd. and Forest rd. also had increases. The DfT figures for Hoe Street & Lea Bridge road showed a higher percentage increase than the survey. Unfortunately traffic counts do not represent congestion. Another point regarding Waltham Forest is that the reduction in population exposure to emissions has never been measured.

    Calculations have been modelled by Kings College using background levels from other areas and omitting high readings but even so the studies have not actually been attributed to LTNs and in the end the NO2 readings look the same as any other Borough due to the reduction in car emission standards.

    Another point is with regard to the DfT figures for the minor roads which is under investigation at the moment from TFL. A 73% increase is frankly ludicrous bearing in mind that the traffic counts for the minor roads have hardly increased at all and looks like they have added the 31.6% estimated increase in 2018 again in 2019.

    What is always missed from any reports is the increase in road mileage from LTN schemes. It has never been calculated for Waltham Forest and if we are talking about climate change this is important.

    There was a mileage analysis done on Ealing’s LTN21 which estimated road mileage to increase by on average 52% which roughly equates to 1.3 million miles per year. There was also a CO2 analysis done that estimated conservatively that gross emissions would increase by nearly 500 tons annually and this all for one small area of about 2 square miles.

    Congestion has increased to the degree that gridlock is the norm, bearing in mind that traffic is still 10% lower than pre Covid levels this should not be happening. Pollution exposure on the perimeter roads is also extended due to the queuing traffic.

    The amount of mode shift is not enough to offset the increase in gross emissions
    They make people drive further by making the ‘sub 2km’ journeys they are trying to stop, into over 2km journeys, and they also take time away from families and work.

    It would appear that LTNs a way of introducing ANPR under the guise of Covid emergency measures and latterly for Tranche 2 ‘Active Travel’ measures.

    At the end of the day they are a money generating scheme that does nothing to deter driving in the long run. make peoples lives a misery and divide communities.

    Don’t get me started on emergency services…..the-trial/ There were a few omissions from the survey like the effect on St Marys road. Fulbourne rd. and Forest rd. also had increases.
    The DfT figures for Hoe Street & Lea Bridge road showed a higher percentage increase than the survey. Unfortunately traffic counts do not represent congestion.

    Another point regarding Waltham Forest is that the reduction in population exposure to emissions has never been measured.
    Calculations have been modelled by Kings College using background levels from other areas and omitting high readings but even so the studies have not actually been attributed to LTNs and in the end the NO2 readings look the same as any other Borough due to the reduction in car emission standards.

    Another point is with regard to the DfT figures for the minor roads which is under investigation at the moment from TFL.

    What is always missed from any reports is the increase in road mileage from LTN schemes. It has never been calculated for Waltham Forest and if we are talking about climate change this is important.

    There was a mileage analysis done on Ealing’s LTN21 which estimated road mileage to increase by on average 52% which roughly equates to 1.3 million miles per year. There was also a CO2 analysis done that estimated conservatively that gross emissions would increase by nearly 500 tons annually and this all for one small area of about 2 square miles.

    Congestion has increased to the degree that gridlock is the norm, bearing in mind that traffic is still 10% lower than pre Covid levels this should not be happening. Pollution exposure to schools on the perimeter roads is also extended due to the queuing traffic.

    The amount of mode shift is not enough to offset the increase in gross emissions
    They make people drive further by making the ‘sub 2km’ journeys they are trying to stop, into over 2km journeys, and they also take time away from families and work.

    It would appear that LTNs a way of introducing ANPR under the guise of Covid emergency measures and latterly for Tranche 2 ‘Active Travel’ measures.

    At the end of the day they are a money generating scheme that do nothing to deter driving in the long run. They just make peoples lives a misery and divide communities….

    Don’t get me started on emergency services…..

    Oh on the Plus side there was a nearly 30% increase in cycles counted in the racks at Fielding school. that’s 10 more bikes…

    • Michael says:

      The circumstances of the trial during a continuous period of reduced traffic due to government guidance stating we residents are to work from home and not to travel, creates a false data set to conduct a trial therefore a false result. Any scientist will tell you the same. Lower traffic cannot be attributable to any LTN implementation.

      The actual experience of the LTN in Northfields is that we are lucky that as a result of the government guidelines, there are a lot less cars on the road.
      The extended journey distance and time to reach LTN 21 coming from Northfields Avenue frequently takes an extra 20 mins of start stop driving. This therefore is 20 mins of pollution that did not exist before the LTN. Multiply this by every car, bus, van and lorry stuck in the near stationary traffic, which cyclists are not able to cycle through safely, and the impact is exponentially disastrous for climate change.

      If all residents in LTN 21 could access their road from Leighton road this would wipe off 19 mins of idle fumes per resident vehicle. I can’t see anything other than logic to that example.

      We humans have routines and places that we need to go to beyond the rhetoric of “2km” journey” distances.
      This is not going to change and neither is the means of getting there until flying electric vehicles are common place. Pre lockdown this was going to be 2025 in other countries. Who knows when this will be in london.
      We need cars on roads and routes open to get from A to B. The sale of diesel vehicles is banned from 2030. It was our government that incentivised us to buy diesel.
      Electric vehicles are becoming more common and this needs to speed up. But the charging infrastructure is not coming at the same pace. Take the money invested in LTN’s and invest into the electric vehicle future and this would be a strong investment to support change in car purchases habits. LTN’s are not reducing emissions, they are increasing them.

      It would also be good to make cycle lanes pot hole free.

  9. jayarava says:

    Thanks. This kind of thing has also been occuring in Cambridge and as a cyclist I certainly appreciated it, but I had no idea what was behind it.

    After the corona officially declared ai pollution, largely caused by motor vehicles, to be a contributing factor to the death of a little girl, I think we will see more of these kinds of measures designed to head off the inevitable slew of prosecutions and law suits for wrongful death. Councils have responsibility for the levels of pollution in their area. LTNs will be one tool to deal with this.

    Fossil fuel-burning cars are dangerous pollution machines that kill many people through their toxic fumes. They also contribute to the climate and ecological crisis. The sooner we ban them the better.

  10. Editors says:

    Phew. Some venom, some convincing stories, some generalisation from limited experiences, some careful analysis acknowledging gaps in evidence (very grown up). This debate will run and run. To me it seems on of the spheres where massive inequality makes other issues harder to solve. I recall the very far-sighted chief planner of Camden in the 1960s saying that LTNs (just introduced as ‘environmental areas’ by the Buchanan Report) would led to the rich occupying the interior and the poor bring pushed onto perimeter roads. I suspect that a lot of the houses and flats-over-shops on main roads in London are now privately rented with many poor tenants, not owner-occupiers. Michael Edwards

  11. Chris says:

    All the vitriol against LTN’s misses the point, which is that there is already simply too much traffic on London’s road (causing massive carbon emissions, very bad air pollution, and less healthy “active” travel such as walking or cycling) and there *has* to be a very significant decrease, as soon as possible.

    LTN’s are just one method of achieving that, alongside road pricing (it’s coming), reducing space for parking, fuel duty rises etc but this is, as the author notes, a significant cultural change which won’t happen over night. So saying new LTN’s increase congestion/pollution on main roads so should be removed is very short sighted: in the short term of course this may happen in some areas, but the longer term aim here is to make driving less attractive/cheap/easy than now, to reduce overall traffic levels.

    When there’s much less traffic on the roads, then those people who really do have to drive for professional or health issues will find it easier and quicker. And we’ll all benefit from cleaner air and reduced carbon emissions.

  12. Dipper says:

    Car travel in all residential areas is a nightmare topic. Like Brexit, it is one of those subjects that reflects your own prejudices back at you.

    In my suburban non-LTN area it is pretty clear what has happened. Fifty years ago, these houses were lived in by a family who maybe had a car. Then the wives got a car. And now the adult children live with them, and they have cars. Front gardens have gone to be replaced by multi-car driveways and still the cars are parked all over the roads.

    But I have seen the future, and it works. The future is in Olympic Village, Stratford. Everything you need is a short walk from your apartment block. Should you need to use a car, parking spaces are available under the blocks, and it is pretty quick access in and out. It’s just the legacy suburbs that are the problem.

  13. John Murray says:

    I use a m/bike. No problems. Soon satnavs will be updated to route you around these traffic obstructions. And as one American website explains, quite helpfully, solve the over-population problem and you solve the climate change problem! That’s where the new population control measures help, like SARS et-al.

  14. Justin says:

    It’s clear that at some point (even with electric cars) they’ll need to be means testing in large urban areas, where cars will have to be licensed according to proximity to local bus/tube/tram networks, with things like age and disability factored in as well. Unfortunately, this will have to be implemented amongst possibly the most spoiled generation of all time, so we expect civil disobedience on a scale unmatched by even the most hardcore political activists.

  15. ehne says:

    the ultimate objective of the LTN is apart of the governments plan in the future to announce a pay-per-mile tax scheme when the eventual diesel and petrol cars are banned and phased out.

    By using Petrol and Diesel cars, you are paying a large fuel tax straight to the government. Electric cars are a disaster for the government, as they cant differentiate the electric used to charge your car vs your phone.

    LTNs are are way to introduce a scheme to silently prepare to strategically block roads and add strategic points for new cameras. These are added to minor roads in London, combined with all the major ANPR cameras, now the entire city is tracking your every mile.

    Here is proof from Harrow council, proposing to replace the plant pots of LTNs with ANPR cameras, that fine non-residents who are not allowed to enter the area. So what if you are visiting your grandma? Your friend? You have to now pay.
    https://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/19126572.harrow-council-consults-low-traffic-neighbourhoods/

    Its only as matter of time when this is extended to Pay-per-mile scheme for electric cars, so the government dont miss out on the loss from the reduced use of fuel tax.

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