The independent London newspaper

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are good for us

22 January, 2021

Detail from a council appeal for views on the creation of ‘people-friendly streets’

• AS lockdown 3 was announced, one of the first things I noticed was the number of people outdoors going for walks and cycle rides.

With gyms shut and restrictions in place, getting outdoors is the main way many people are getting exercise. For some it is currently their only way of having social contact, by meeting one other person to exercise with.

LTNs, low traffic neighbourhoods, part of the council’s people-friendly streets programme, make this so much easier with quiet streets allowing more space for walking, cycling and playing, while being socially distanced.

It’s never been so important to have access to public space, and getting out and about is much more enjoyable in LTNs like Canonbury compared with areas like Barnsbury that have high levels of traffic.

While people have expressed concerns about LTNs, such as traffic increasing around their perimeter, and emergency services being affected, there is enough data from similar schemes across London to alleviate these concerns. Around Hackney’s LTNs Transport for London data show there was no increase in traffic levels at their borders.

A Freedom of Information request revealed data that showed while Wandsworth briefly had LTNs in place ambulance service response times in the borough were actually reduced compared with the previous year when there were no LTNs.

The benefits of LTNs are numerous: from children being able to play safely, to getting a better night’s sleep and feeling less stressed due to reduced traffic noise.

LTNs are beneficial for our health now and in the long term: we know those exposed to high levels of pollution are affected more severely by Covid-19. We also have many public health issues associated with physical inactivity.

Highbury West and Highbury Fields LTNs were implemented on January 11. The remaining areas of Islington eagerly await LTNs.

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