Councils across London have been quickly introducing Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes, taking up funding provided from a £250m government fund to support active travel. Some schemes have been popular and transformatory for local neighbourhoods, but recently there has been considerable opposition leading to some schemes being suspended. There are no LTNs proposed for Bromley (with the exception of Shortlands' Liveable Neighbourhoods scheme, see below) but residents in Crystal Palace have been affected by the LTN introduced by Croydon Council. So should Bromley Council take up the offer of funding for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods or not - what are your views?
Lib Dems are very much in favour of the concept of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. They would seem to appeal to everyone - the promise of delivering healthier, safer streets, a vision where residential areas are more bike and pedestrian friendly, and where we enjoy the reduced pollution levels we all felt during lockdown. There are over 100 schemes in London, and many have been very successful. So what's gone wrong with the new schemes introduced since lockdown?
There are common themes in the schemes that have run into problems - lack of consultation, poor signage, lack of liaison with TfL, with SatNav companies, with emergency services, and most importantly of all with local residents.
The problems in Crystal Palace are typical of these problems - apart from failing to consult with residents and others, Croydon Council failed to consult with neighbouring councils, particularly important in Crystal Palace where the boundaries of 5 local councils meet. What could have been a transformation for this notorious heavy traffic area has instead produced intolerable conditions for local people. There are similar stories in Wandsworth, who have now abandoned their LTN, and protests in Islington, Lambeth and Ealing. There are complaints that schemes favour the more affluent areas with cars being led away from the suburban streets increasing the traffic and therefore pollution on already over-used roads.
It's worth emphasising that there have been many more successes than failures, with over 100 successful schemes across London, but we recognise that the problems with recent schemes have been caused largely because of the - necessary - speed in which they've been introduced. It takes time for these schemes to be tailored to suit the area and to be accepted by residents. The concept was never to squeeze traffic into ever more congested routes, rather to encourage and enable people to use other forms of transport which in turn delivers real benefits to health. In Waltham Forest, one of the often quoted success stories of LTNs, after just one year data showed that residents were walking 32 minutes more per week, cycling more and car use was reduced. (See study here)
So - what are your views - should Bromley Council introduce Low Traffic neighbourhoods and if so where? Tell us your views by completing this survey.
Shortlands Liveable Neighbourhood scheme is the exception in Bromley. Consultation started two years ago, run by Sustrans and it has secured funding from TfL for the project. We welcome this project, it's been well run and the consultation has been extensive, and has the potential to deliver a significant improvement to the area. We do have concerns that there is opposition to parts of this plan from within the council which may mean it will not after all be introduced, but we're keeping a watching brief and will continue to report.