Car exemptions would be a wrong turn
12 February, 2021
‘Exemptions to an LTN will increase car use and congestion’
• A PETITION asking the council to exempt residents from Highbury’s LTN, low traffic neighbourhood, scheme has been signed by thousands of people.
While I believe there are important adjustments, such as increasing parking places for disabled people, that would improve the scheme, I fear exemptions – which sound like a harmless compromise – would actually increase car use and congestion.
Most people agree we need to reduce pollution, carbon emissions, noise and road danger. That’s the idea behind Islington’s introduction of people-friendly streets: to make streets healthier and safer for walking, cycling and public transport, while making short car journeys (which could be made some other way) less convenient.
Exempting all or some residents so they can continue driving is not going to help achieve that goal.
One reason is that short local journeys would actually become more attractive to residents because they wouldn’t face competition for road space from non-local drivers.
Secondly, exemptions would do nothing to help Islington reach its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Furthermore enforcement is not as effective as closing a road physically. Some non-exempt drivers will continue to drive through LTNs so they won’t work properly.
People may say the fines incurred are useful income for the council but it defeats the benefits to the community of quieter, safer streets.
Finally, exemptions would be extremely costly to administrate. I can see a whole new department being created to keep track of the thousands of exempt vehicles registrations, confront difficult questions of eligibility, pursue fraudulent registrations, and maintain dozens of cameras.
This isn’t sensible use of public money given the current desperate state of the council’s budget. All in all exemptions would lock in car use for short local journeys for another generation and we can’t let that happen.
Low Traffic Highbury