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Why are Low Traffic Neighbourhoods needed?

12 December 2022

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods look to reclaim local streets for the local neighbourhoods they serve by reducing cut-through traffic.

London built arterial roads to handle the majority of the city’s road traffic whilst neighbourhood roads aimed to feed traffic onto these main arterial routes. Unfortunately without appropriate design and engineering, many of these neighbourhood roads have become increasingly busy as motorists looked to avoid congestion on the main arterial roads.

This has left neighbourhood streets more dangerous and less hospitable for pedestrians and cyclists who are faced with motorists cutting through neighbourhood streets in their attempts to save a few seconds in their journey.

This is all happening at a time when we’re encouraging people to switch to active travel because of the need to reduce local pollution levels and greenhouse emissions and for the benefits of a more active lifestyle.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods look to reclaim local streets for the local neighbourhoods they serve by reducing cut-through traffic. This will occasionally inconvenience motorists but it will make our streets more inviting for pedestrians and cyclists and contribute to creating a healthier and more sustainable London.

What are Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs)?

Living Streets and the London Cycling Campaign have been working together on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods for a couple of years now providing a more people-centred approach to our urban spaces.  Some of the best examples are in Waltham Forest which has led the way and is now benefiting from their LTNs in terms of improved environment and healthier people, increasing the amount people walk in the borough and even how long they live.

Low-traffic neighbourhoods are made up of:

  • areas where through-traffic is restricted by barriers like bollards or planters;
  • urban streets or people-friendly main roads with safe space to cycle, generous pavements, planting, seating; and
  • connected quiet streets that link the low-traffic traffic areas  with safe crossings across the main roads. This creates a city-wide network of direct routes for walking and cycling that any age or ability can use.

It is also worth remembering that only 43% of Haringey households own a car  and we need to ensure that our investment in our boroughs reflects the needs of local residents. At the same time 49% of Haringey residents own or have access to a bike, but only 8% cycle regularly.

Why the controversy over LTNs?

The introduction of LTNs has not been smooth with its opponents worried about the impact these changes are likely to have on their lives. But these changes will bring improvements.

Fortunately we now have a growing body of research from trials of LTNs in London that point to the benefits of their introduction to local communities. Research studies from Newham and Waltham Forest point to reductions in traffic levels, increased cycling, and improved air quality, road safety and bus journey times where LTNs have been introduced.

Recent research from University of Westminster’s Active Travel Academy (ATA) points to the introduction of LTNs reducing motor vehicles within the area’s boundaries without pushing traffic on to roads around their edges.

What you can you do to show your support

Write to your local councillors, your MP and London Assembly member expressing your support for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Climate charity Possible have a form to help you write to your local councillor.

Attend Haringey Cycling Campaign’s monthly meeting

Join the London Cycling Campaign