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LTNs are a beacon of fairness in the transport world

26 March, 2021

‘Things are looking up, with the introduction of LTNs’

• LTNs, low traffic neighbourhoods, are a beacon of fairness in the transport world’s morass of inequality.

Wherever you look there is unfairness: car ownership, fuel duty, car tax, distribution of the vulnerable…

We are reminded of the quotation: “to the one who has, more will be given”.

The Barnsbury group has researched these inequalities.

To summarise:

Car ownership is unfairly distributed: ownership is highest among London residents of white ethnic origin, with ownership around a third lower among black and mixed or other ethnic groups; women are less likely to own a car; the young and the old are both less likely to own a car than the middle-aged.

The rate of fuel duty has been frozen since 2010, meaning motorists have enjoyed a large price cut in real terms, even as public transport fares have risen faster than inflation.

Car tax does not pay for the maintenance of the roads. It doesn’t even pay for the health costs incurred by the use of the car.

For each car they own the average driver would have to pay the annual car tax 51 times to cover this cost, and 102 times if they drive a diesel car. And that’s without fixing a single pothole.

The groups most vulnerable to air pollution are children, older people and those with heart and respiratory conditions.

People living in deprived areas are also more affected by poor air quality. And we know from the evidence about car ownership that the young, the old and the deprived are least likely to be drivers.

This is the greatest obscenity. Those who don’t drive are the most likely to be badly affected by the pollution.

That’s all grim reading but things are looking up, with the introduction of LTNs.

A very recent study, Equity in new active travel infrastructure: a spatial analysis of London’s new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, is the most comprehensive of LTNs so far.

This uses detailed and sophisticated data to compare streets, including occupants’ age, ethnicity, disability, employment and car ownership, and the government’s index of multiple deprivation, down to micro-areas of about 300 residents.

One of the conclusions is that across London people in the most deprived quarter of areas (the poor) were 2.7 times more likely to live in one of the new LTNs than the least deprived quarter of people (the rich).

After decades of travel by car being unfairly advantaged, Islington is at last moving towards a more equal travel world.

LTNs are being implemented fairly and, by discouraging car journeys, LTNs are reducing a long-standing inequity which unfairly privileges car drivers.



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