An analysis of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) has been published by Possible, a UK based climate charity working towards a zero carbon society, the KR Foundation and the ActiveTravel Academy. LTNs are increasingly being used in London and other cities and countries to reduce through motor traffic in residential areas, aiming also to increase local walking and cycling.
The analysis, written by Professor Rachel Aldred and Dr Ersilia Verlinghieri of the Active Travel Academy, is the third report written as part of the Car-Free Megacities project funded by the KR Foundation and led by Possible. It examines the location and geographical extension of LTNs introduced in London between March and September 2020, and disparities between boroughs.
We recommend that boroughs without LTNs introduce them. Boroughs should consider equity when developing and prioritising LTNs, given that LTNs may particularly benefit people living without access to private greenspace or local safe public spaces for playing and socialising. Although 7.7m of London’s 8.5m residents live on the residential streets most amenable to benefit from LTN-type interventions, other interventions must be planned and implemented to improve roads where an LTN is not possible
Its key recommendation is that: ‘We recommend that boroughs without LTNs introduce them. Boroughs should consider equity when developing and prioritising LTNs, given that LTNs may particularly benefit people living without access to private greenspace or local safe public spaces for playing and socialising.
Although 7.7m of London’s 8.5m residents live on the residential streets most amenable to benefit from LTN-type interventions, other interventions must be planned and implemented to improve roads where an LTN is not possible.’
LTNs enjoy majority support as a planning tool and this has been growing. However, they are controversial when introduced, and it is important to get details right as well as to allow trials time to bed in and for monitoring and evaluation. Under Experimental Traffic Orders, consultation is concurrent with implementation. Platforms should be used that allow the speedy identification and resolution of problems, such as re-siting planters whose placement has caused difficulty for disabled pedestrians. For future roll-outs opportunities should be taken to design
LTNs inclusively with advice from disabled people’s groups, emergency services, and others, to avoid such problems happening in the first place. As boroughs plan LTNs, social equity should be one criterion used.
Consultations should pick up where LTNs should be extended, as well as where mitigation measures are needed (e.g. adjusting signal timing as traffic patterns change). Authorities should be ready as needed to bring forward the introduction of neighbouring LTNs, or to introduce pop-up measures on local main roads and high streets. Such co-ordinated planning can be difficult in London with its 33 districts each with control of the majority of borough roads. However, it is not impossible, with examples of neighbouring boroughs collaborating on the introduction of cross-borough LTNs (such as Newham and Waltham Forest, or Ealing and Hounslow)
The London boroughs that have not implemented LTNs, particularly those with high levels of deprivation (such as Haringey) should do so, and this will increase London-wide equity of LTNs. Many boroughs without LTNs are suburban, Outer London boroughs with high car ownership. From an equity perspective, people without cars may be particularly disadvantaged in such settings; for instance as car use is assumed and public transport sparser. It is important that LTNs benefit those residents too, and not only those in deprived areas of Inner London
Differences between residential street and main road/high street residents by age group, income group, ethnic group, and disability status are relatively small, and relate more to Outer than to Inner London. Therefore implementing LTNs in itself is not likely to pose major social equity issues (by benefiting those living on 58 residential streets more than those living on main roads). However, and particularly in Outer London, it is in any case important that the 5% of residents living on main roads and the 5% of residents living on high streets benefit from improvements that reduce the impact of motor traffic and increase their access to safe and pleasant active travel options
LTNs should be part of longer-term programmes to improve quality of life across London, and authorities should link LTNs to the Mayor’s Transport Strategy 2041 goal that there will be ‘at least 3 million fewer daily car trips and one quarter of a million fewer cars owned in London’ (despite likely substantial population growth over that period) . Early evidence suggesting that LTNs might 89 reduce car ownership and use by around 20% among residents implies they could contribute strongly to this goal
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