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Have Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) Barricades Made Congestion Worse?

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are used to close off roads to motor traffic and reallocate the space to walkers and cyclists, the scheme has been somewhat controversial, with suggestions they have made congestion even worse.

Traffic calming

Some local councils claim arrests have been made for vandalising barricades, bollards and signs demarking the new traffic measures introduced for LTNs. Pictures released show planters being overturned and graffitied over changes to motorists’ access to roads.

One council leader said criminal damage “has to stop”. “We are also seeing dangerous and irresponsible driving by motorists, who are going on to the pavement to avoid the barriers and putting pedestrians, particularly children, at risk of serious injury.”

Residents and motorists in some areas have been signing petitions objecting to the introduction of traffic-calming measures.

Although most residents are usually supportive about schemes to improve air quality, road safety and reduce traffic congestion in the area, more and more of them are now claiming the recent approach by their local councils are not fit for purpose and are actually making congestion and pollution worse.

Residents do not condone of vandalism and will continue to argue their case peacefully by means of communication.

One campaigner said that vandalism just detracts from the main messages and concerns, for example, emergency services response times could be delayed due to delays, route changes and diversions, and that barricades are being deployed without any warning and consultation of local residents.

Councils that fail to consult residents and businesses over plans for LTNs could see their funding reclaimed by the Government. The Department for Transport (DfT) stated that Grant Shapps has been clear “future funding allocations will be reduced, and clawbacks could also be imposed” where local authorities do not consider affected communities.

Ealing Council has stated that their actions have been taken in regard to ‘future’ so called rat-runs, with one councillor saying, “In introducing low traffic neighbourhoods, our first priority is to do this safely. That is why we have consulted with all the emergency services and will continue to do so. The bollards that we have put in were done so as a result of feedback from the local emergency services.”

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A spokesperson for London Ambulance Service previously told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that they are working closely with London councils, Transport for London and other partners to ensure emergency vehicle access is considered in the plans.

The Transport Secretary, Mr Shapps, voiced his objections in a letter sent to council leaders back in July, where he highlighted problems with using barriers to widen town centre pavements.

He explained these fixtures could “prevent pedestrians from crossing the road, cause congestion for buses, motor traffic, and impede access for kerbside businesses”.

Councils have been given a further £175 million, after a £250 million investment to promote cycling and walking announced back in May 2020.

Another scheme encouraging motorists to leave the car at home, no doubt the motor trade and insurance companies will also be monitoring closely.