The independent London newspaper

Some are not hearing the birdsong

01 April, 2021

• IT’S spring and I went for a long walk to enjoy the early sunshine and longer evenings, strolling beyond Islington’s low traffic neighbourhoods, LTNs.

I had almost forgotten what normal streets are like. Cars, lorries, motorbikes. Once I returned deep into Highbury West LTN, all was peaceful and tranquil again.

It’s hard not to like the calm. Who would want to lose it now they’ve got it? And it’s why the introduction of LTNs is so divisive and pernicious.

Those lucky or privileged enough to have streets freed of rat-running traffic rejoice in hearing birdsong and breathing clean air.

But if they look beyond their back yards, they’ll witness something quite different; other, less fortunate, residents suffering real hardship.

They’d see how the LTN scheme, as it is has been designed by Islington, is disadvantaging the less mobile and people with real and urgent needs to use cars.

They might hear how businesses are crying out in distress as a result of lost trade since January.

They might discover that delivery drivers and tradespeople are refusing to come to the area since it now takes them so much longer to get in and out.

Perhaps they might acknowledge that roads surrounding the LTNs are still crammed full, inevitably swollen by displaced traffic, irrespective of whether a few motorists might have been deterred by the mayhem.

For the moment, though, it seems they’re oblivious that the gains they are enjoying are at a cost to other people just like them, residents, living and working in this city.

As nice as it might be for the lucky ones on a quiet street, we are a community. This is the 21st century and a living city. Direct access to and from homes and businesses is essential to our established way of life.

“Take a different route” instructed the council. But closing roads is having an unequal, unbalanced impact. Have people become so selfish that they can’t all see beyond their front doors?

For those suffering the negatives of LTNs, it’s not birdsong they hear. They hear the sound of, “I’m all right, Jack!”

Think again, Islington.

Highbury Hill, N5


Share this story

Post a comment