Sunday, 31 October 2021

Improvements for Northolt

A Zebra and parallel cycle crossing on Mandeville Road, Northolt
















The government's Levelling Up Fund has allocated Ealing Council £7.2 million to improve the A312  corridor in Northolt. The money is earmarked for landscaping, new signs and pedestrian and cycle crossings of the A312, as well as improvements to the Kensington Road area near Northala Fields. The grant is good news for active travel in the borough. The Department for Transport suspended funding for Ealing after the council's u-turn on low-traffic neighbourhoods, but this money comes from a pot it doesn't completely control. The Levelling Up Fund is managed by the Treasury, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, along with the Department for Transport. 

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Saturday, 30 October 2021

Council Fails to Deliver Liveable Neighbourhood

 White Bicycle chained to railings at the Lido Junction, West Ealing

On Tuesday 19th October a group from Make Uxbridge Road Safe gathered at the Lido Junction in a vigil to remember Claudia Manera on the fourth anniversary of her death. Claudia died near the junction following a collision with a lorry in 2017. Since then there has been almost no progress on the Liveable Neighbourhood promised for the area. In the days following the tragedy, council leader Julian Bell brought Will Norman, the Mayor of London's Walking and Cycling Commissioner to look at the site, and promised that the "Liveable Neighbourhoods funding bid that we have put in to TfL will be for West Ealing, and it will be for this junction and the areas around". The following year Ealing won the funding for the West Ealing Liveable Neighbourhood and, at the council elections in 2018, all four main political parties pledged to install it, if elected. 

The brief for Liveable Neighbourhood funding is clear. "Projects will be expected to encourage a mode shift away from the private car and make streets work better for people, rather than for vehicles, as part of a wider traffic reduction strategy for an area." Through 2018 and 2019, there was consultation with the public, but little progress with traffic reduction. When Covid struck, in spring 2020, funding was stopped. In August 2020, through traffic was largely removed from the Liveable Neighbourhood area as part of the LTN21 experimental low-traffic neighbourhood. However, in May 2021 new Council Leader, Peter Mason, removed LTN21 and with it all the traffic calming that had been installed in the Liveable Neighbourhood. There was no consultation on its removal, and no alternative measures were put in its place. Since then motor traffic in West Ealing's residential streets has returned to its old levels.

In the summer of 2021, the council found funding to consult on the layout of Dean Gardens and has published the results. The plan to re-route the cycle path was not widely supported and won't go ahead. 

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Thursday, 28 October 2021

Ambulances - Quicker with LTN

 

A freedom of information request has revealed that ambulance response times were quicker while LTN21 was in place in West Ealing. Ambulances responding to category 1 calls, the most urgent, arrived on average 24% faster than during the period before and after the low traffic neighbourhood was in place. Category 2 and 3 calls were also quicker to arrive, while category 4, the least urgent, were slower than before the LTN was installed, but faster than in the period since its removal. Ambulance response times are affected by many factors, but this data appears consistent with research that shows LTNs don't adversely affect emergency vehicle response times.1  The FoI requested information for Northfields and Hanwell. 

A table of Ambulance Times. Category 1  = 4 minutes 27 seconds while LTN21 was in place.
1. https://findingspress.org/article/23568-the-impact-of-2020-low-traffic-neighbourhoods-on-fire-service-emergency-response-times-in-london-uk



 

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Friday, 22 October 2021

Fisher's Lane Keeps Calm - New LTN in Hanwell

A cyclist on Fisher's Lane














Earlier this month (6 October 2021) Ealing council removed seven low-traffic neighbourhoods and over 50km of traffic-calmed roads. Last night the council's scrutiny committee made a small step in a positive direction. It confirmed that Fisher's Lane in Chiswick will be permanently closed to motor vehicles (except buses), and that the council will re-install a small low traffic neighbourhood in Deans Road and Montague Road in Hanwell. This puts back a tiny part of LTN21which the council removed in May. 

Fisher's Lane

Fisher's Lane is part of a cycle route from Wormwood Scrubs to Chiswick. Since its closure last year, cycling on the road has increased by 200 percent.  Last night's decision is a victory for local residents and their campaign, Keep Fisher's Lane Calm. Some of the main beneficiaries will be local children who now have a much safer route to school and less pollution in the nearby playground. Local personality, television presenter, Jeremy Vine tweeted his support.







Ealing and Montague Low Traffic Neighbourhood


Video showing Montague Avenue on a bad day.

Deans Road and Montague Road have been rat-runs since the 1970s. Early attempts to reduce this with a width restriction and one-way streets did nothing to remove through traffic. The one-way streets probably made the situation worse. With no vehicles coming in the opposite direction, motorists often sped along them, reducing travel times, prompting Google Maps and Waze to funnel even more vehicles down the roads. A survey in 2017 found pollution levels exceeded World Health Organisation guidelines. A majority of residents supported the LTN.





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Monday, 4 October 2021

New Bike Shop

London Cycle Workshop shop















The London Cycle Workshop have opened a shop in Bond Street. It is the fourth cycle shop to open in Ealing since the introduction of the low-traffic neighbourhoods. All are located in the area around the  Loveday Road, Mattock Lane, Olive Road and Junction Road LTNs. Cycling has nearly doubled in the area since the LTNs were introduced, stimulating demand for the new shops. 

Four bike shops that have opened in Ealing since September 2020

However, Ealing Council is planning to remove the low-traffic neighbourhoods this week, which is likely to have a negative impact on these newly created green jobs. When the council removed LTN21 cycling fell by about 20 percent. 

The London Cycle Workshop services and repairs bikes, sells accessories and clothing, but doesn't sell bicycles. Unusually, it also hires bike boxes - useful if you ever take your bike on a plane.   It is the latest in a small chain of independent cycle shops that started in Battersea in 2009. 

The London Cycle Workshop is at 39 Bond Street, Ealing W5 5AS  Tel: 020 8075 5222. https://tlcw.co.uk/ealing-shop

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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Council Report Ignores Benefits of LTNs

A pile of dozens of children's bicycles in one of Ealing's Low Traffic Neighbourhoods with a sign saying "What about the Children?"
A pile of children's bicycles - a protest against Ealing Council's plans to allow through traffic on residential roads which will make the streets two to four times more dangerous for children.




Ealing Cycling Campaign has written to the Chief Executive of Ealing Council objecting to omissions in its officers' report to cabinet which recommends the removal of seven LTNs. The report ignores the widespread evidence that shows the benefits of low-traffic neighbourhoods. The council failed to carry out counts of walking and cycling in the borough, which means it can't quantify the shift from car use to active travel. Its report fails to mention data in an independent study that indicate people in the outer London LTNs installed last year spent 58 minutes more per week walking and cycling compared to people outside the LTNs, and 44 minutes less driving. The cabinet is due to vote on the report's recommendations tonight (22 September 2021). If the cabinet votes to remove the LTNs it will cause more people to be injured on Ealing's roads, reduce the amount of walking and cycling in the borough, and increase the amount of car use. 

The text of our letter to the Chief Executive is below:

Re: Officers' report to cabinet: London Streetspace Plan (COVID Emergency Transport Measures) Update

Dear Mr. Najsarek,

We have serious concerns about this officers' report to the cabinet which recommends the removal of seven low-traffic neighbourhoods. The report contains serious omissions with the result that it fails to give an accurate picture of the benefits of the LTNs. It fails to make councillors aware of the new network management duty guidance, issued by the Secretary of State for Transport on 30 July 2021. It fails to make councillors aware that removing LTNs will result in a withdrawal of government funding for transport schemes in the borough. It makes recommendations which will negatively impact the council's three strategic priorities. And finally, it ignores the impact the removal of the LTNs will have on Ealing's Cycling Network. In short, it doesn't appear to have been based on evidence, but to have been written to justify a pre-determined decision. 

1. Omissions 

PEDESTRIAN AND CYCLE COUNTS

The council has not published any pedestrian and cycle counts for the 2020 low-traffic neighbourhoods. Given that the schemes were installed to increase the amount of walking and cycling, this is a serious omission. The report makes reference to the academic paper, The Impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on Active Travel, Car Use, and Perceptions of Local Environment during the COVID-19 Pandemic, but fails to mention that the paper reports 58 minutes of extra active travel per person, per week in the outer London 2020 LTNs. This is a considerable benefit. There is also evidence from earlier LTNs in London that shows they increase the amount of walking and also, to a lesser extent, cycling.1 In the absence of data from Ealing this should be presented as a guide to the cabinet. 

Ealing Cycling Campaign's own count, comparing cycle levels on Salisbury Road in LTN21 between September 2018 and September 2020 showed an 88% increase after the LTN was installed.  Since the LTN was removed we have seen a 22% drop in cycling. This is likely to fall further if the nearby LTNs are removed. 

REDUCTION IN CAR TRAVEL

Ealing hasn't published data on this. The report refers to the academic paper, The Impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on Active Travel, Car Use, and Perceptions of Local Environment during the COVID-19 Pandemic2, but fails to mention that it found that minutes of car travel per person, per week in the Emergency LTNs was 44 minutes less, compared to control groups living outside the LTNs. This is a significant reduction and deserves further investigation.

HEALTH BENEFITS

One of the recognised benefits of LTNs is better health. For instance, the hospital charity, Guy's and St. Thomas' Charitable Trust contributed £250,000 to fund three low-traffic neighbourhoods in Southwark. Most of the benefits are due to increased walking, with predicted longer life expectancy.3 This information is absent from the report.

REDUCED ROAD TRAFFIC INJURIES

The report quotes an academic study that shows London's low-traffic neighbourhoods reduced road traffic injuries by half.4 An earlier study of pre-2020 LTNs indicated that walking, cycling, and driving all became approximately 3-4 times safer per trip inside LTNs with no change on the boundary roads.5 LTNs offer significant improvement in safety to vulnerable road users, and the report should give this greater prominence. 

CRIME

The report notes that crime is slightly down in LTN areas, but states that there has not been enough time to draw any conclusions about their longer-term impact. An academic study, not included in the officers' report, found long-term benefits of LTNs.6 It reported that the introduction of LTNs "was associated with a 10% decrease in total street crime, and this effect increased with a longer duration since implementation (18% decrease after 3 years). An even larger reduction was observed for violence and sexual offences. The only subcategory of crime that increased significantly was bicycle theft. There was no indication of displacement of any crime subcategory into adjacent areas." 


2. New statutory guidance

The legal section of the report fails to mention the new network management duty guidance, issued by the Secretary of State for Transport on 30 July 2021.7  This statutory guidance includes the following:

"we continue to expect local authorities to take measures to reallocate road space to people walking and cycling. The focus should now be on devising further schemes and assessing COVID-19 schemes with a view to making them permanent. The assumption should be that they will be retained unless there is substantial evidence to the contrary."

There is no substantial evidence in the officers' report to indicate that the Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods should be removed. Instead, it explicitly states: "there are no schemes where the overall impact in terms of traffic/congestion and air quality are significant either positively or negatively." 

The new statutory guidance also contains the requirement that:

"Trial or experimental schemes should be left in place for the full duration of the temporary traffic regulation order (TTRO) or experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO), where appropriate, or where no traffic regulation order (TRO) is required, until at least 12 months’ traffic data is available and has been published."

We have yet to see 12 months' traffic data published for all these schemes. LTN 30 (Loveday Road) was installed in November 2020, so time is still needed to collect traffic data for this area.

The new guidance is also specific in the type of data the council should use as evidence to make its decision:

"In assessing how and in what form to make schemes permanent, authorities should collect appropriate data to build a robust evidence base on which to make decisions. This should include traffic counts, pedestrian and cyclist counts, traffic speed, air quality data, public opinion surveys and consultation responses."

The council has failed to publish data in four of these seven categories. The following are missing: pedestrian and cyclist counts, traffic speed, and public opinion surveys. (Note the new guidance states that, "Engagement, especially on schemes where there is public controversy, should use objective methods, such as professional polling to British Polling Council standards, to establish a truly representative picture of local views and to ensure that minority views do not dominate the discourse.")

Finally the new guidance makes it clear that: "Consultations are not referendums, however. Polling results should be one part of the suite of robust, empirical evidence on which decisions are made." We note that the recommendations to remove or keep LTNs made in the officers' report coincide with the results of the council's Survey Monkey poll. This suggests that the poll, and not an objective assessment of the benefits and disadvantages of the LTNs is the true basis for the recommendations in this report.


3. Financial Consequences

The government has made it clear that it will withdraw future funding to boroughs that remove active travel schemes.8 This includes funding for schemes other than active travel, and funding the council receives from TfL. By removing LTN21, Ealing has already lost funding from the DfT. To help the cabinet make a decision, this report should include details of the amount of funding the council will lose, or could lose. For instance, the amount of funding received from the DfT and TfL over the last three years, and the proportion it makes up of total transport funding.


4. Links to the 3 Key Priorities for the Borough

The report fails to include the impact its recommendations will have on the borough's core objectives. Ealing has three key priorities: creating good jobs, tackling the climate crisis and fighting inequality. If the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are removed the DfT will cut funding to the borough. This will mean job losses. Removing the LTNs will reduce the amount people walk and cycle, and increase car use. This will increase the rate of global warming. Without the LTNs there will be between two and four times as many road traffic injuries on the former LTN roads. This will disproportionately affect those on lower incomes who are less likely to drive.


5. Effect on Ealing's Cycle Network

Some of the roads in the LTNs are part of Ealing's draft Cycle Network. Removing the LTNs will increase motor traffic on these routes to levels that break the guidelines in Local Transport Note 1/20: Cycle Infrastructure Design. Section 7.1.1 states: "Most people, especially with younger children, will not feel comfortable on-carriageways with more than 2,500 vehicles per day and speeds of more than 20 mph. These values should be regarded as desirable upper limits for inclusive cycling within the carriageway."  Section 7.1.4 says: "At flows of above 5000 vehicles per day few people will be prepared to cycle on-street" 

The following roads are part of Ealing's latest draft cycle network. The council's own traffic counts show they will have unacceptable levels of motor traffic for cycle routes if the relevant LTNs are removed:

Culmington Road (existing cycle route)

Before LTN = 496 vehicles per hour / 5952 vehicles over 12 hours

With LTN  = 61 vehicles per hour = 732 vehicles per 12 hours


Loveday Road (proposed cycle route)

Before LTN = 266 vehicles per hour / 3192 vehicles per 12 hours

With LTN = 7 vehicles per hour / 84 vehicles per 12 hours


Mattock Lane east (existing cycle route)

Before LTN  = 318 vehicles per hour = 3816 vehicles per 12 hours

With LTN = 157 vehicles per hour/ 1884 vehicles per 12 hours


Mattock Lane west (existing cycle route)

Before LTN = 327 vehicles per hour / 3924 vehicles per 12 hours

With LTN = 279 vehicles per hour / 3348 vehicles per 12 hours


Conclusion

The officers' report states: "the only clear benefits to be identified (namely the reduction in traffic with each LTN) is of a localised nature and it is therefore appropriate to give weight to the views of local residents when balancing the data and responses."   If the council finds only one clear benefit, it is because it has failed to collect the necessary data to identify other recognised benefits. It has also chosen to ignore or play down academic research and data from other boroughs that provides an extensive evidence base for the wider benefits of low traffic neighbourhoods. A full and properly researched report could only come to one conclusion - a recommendation to keep the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. 


Yours sincerely,

Ealing Cycling Campaign


1. Impacts of an active travel intervention with a cycling focus in a suburban context: One-year findings from an evaluation of London’s in-progress mini-Hollands programme.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965856417314866
2. The Impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on Active Travel, Car Use, and Perceptions of Local Environment during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 
https://findingspress.org/article/21390-the-impact-of-low-traffic-neighbourhoods-on-active-travel-car-use-and-perceptions-of-local-environment-during-the-covid-19-pandemic
3. Waltham Forest study of life expectancy benefits of increased physical activity from walking and cycling https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BqGRWsN17qZNbvuqrMARql1QYu3_M7Rd/view
4. Impacts of 2020 Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in London on Road Traffic Injuries. 
https://findingspress.org/article/25633-impacts-of-2020-low-traffic-neighbourhoods-in-london-on-road-traffic-injuries
5. The Impact of Introducing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on Road Traffic Injuries. 

https://findingspress.org/article/18330-the-impact-of-introducing-low-traffic-neighbourhoods-on-road-traffic-injuries

6. The Impact of Introducing a Low Traffic Neighbourhood on Street Crime, in Waltham Forest, London. 

https://findingspress.org/article/19414-the-impact-of-introducing-a-low-


7. Statutory guidance Traffic Management Act 2004: network management to support recovery from COVID-19 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities/traffic-management-act-2004-network-management-in-response-to-covid-19

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Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Government halts council plans to pull LTNs








Ealing Council announced on 16 August that it wants to remove seven of the COVID-19 trial low-traffic neighbourhoods and make only two permanent.

If the council has its way, the following LTNs will go: 

8 Olive Road

20 West Ealing North

25 Acton Central

30 Loveday Road

32 Junction Road

34 Bowes Road

35 Mattock Lane. 

The two that will stay are 48 Adrienne Avenue in Greenford, and the proposed Deans and Montague LTN in Hanwell. 

If the council goes ahead with its plan, it will mean that, of the 140 streets initially covered by the  low traffic neighbourhoods, only 8 will remain. However it is delaying its decision until a cabinet meeting in September so it can assess the implications of new government statutory guidance published on 30 July. 

The council's move is based on a Survey Monkey poll carried out last month. Between 1% to 6% of Ealing's population completed the survey. The exact numbers are unknown as the council didn't ask for names, and people could vote more than once. Of the responses from those who said they were residents of LTNs, 1186 (29%) were in favour and 2859 (71%) were against. 

If the council adheres to the government's new statutory guidance, the LTNs will remain for another year. The guidance says that active travel Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (ETROs), have to remain in place for their full duration. ETROs run for18 months, and the existing ones that created the current LTNs were issued in February this year. The new guidance is designed to prevent councils pulling active travel schemes before they have a chance to bed in, and to give councils time to collect meaningful data. Some sat nav apps take months to update new routes, and pollution needs to be measured over a full annual cycle. Councils are also expected to modify schemes, rather than pull them out completely, which might open up the possibility of enabling access for residents and visitors, but prohibiting rat-running through the LTNs. The new guidance also requires the council to publish full data on the schemes, including their effect on walking and cycling. Astonishingly, for a project that was designed to get more people to walk and cycle, the council has not published any data on this. Finally, if a council wants to remove a scheme, the new guidance requires it to conduct a consultation on its removal. This needs to include an objective survey of public opinion, such as one carried out by a professional polling company. 

The government has made it clear that schemes should not be removed unless there is substantial evidence they are not working. So far, all the data the council has produced shows that they are working. Apart from some concern about Horn Lane, and the Lido junction, transport planners appear happy with the levels of traffic on the boundary roads. The volume of traffic is slightly down on seven boundary roads and slightly up on six. 



On 16 August, for the first time, the council published "before and after" data on traffic inside the LTNs. This shows substantial drops of motor vehicles on cycle routes, such as Mattock Lane east and Culmington Road. Independent research shows LTNs are three to four times safer for pedestrians and cyclists than similar residential areas that don't have an LTN.

The council has also announced that the temporary COVID-19 cycle schemes on stretches of the Uxbridge Road - the ones marked with wands - will be made permanent, as will a stretch on the north-bound side of Greenford Road. The Acton to Chiswick cycle route will also be made permanent. The council has shelved plans for LTNs in the Creffield Road area and the proposed Hamilton Road LTN will now be a discussion with residents on "active travel measures".

The council hasn't made any announcement on the Greenford to Ealing Quietway, the Boston Road cycle route, the West Ealing Liveable Neighbourhood, or the proposed cycle route along the Uxbridge Road between Southall and Hanwell which, if it goes ahead, is due to be completed by late autumn. The government has promised to cut the transport funding of councils which remove active travel schemes, so if the council pulls the LTNs all these schemes, as well as wider transport funding, are at risk.


LINKS:

Ealing LTN survey results: https://www.ealing.gov.uk/info/201268/low_traffic_neighbourhoods/2841/ltn_consultations/1

Ealing statement on active travel: https://www.ealing.gov.uk/news/article/2108/ealing_council_fully_committed_to_active_travel_schemes_including_ltns_where_supported_by_residents

Government statutory guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities/traffic-management-act-2004-network-management-in-response-to-covid-19

Reduction in road traffic injuries inside LTNs: https://findingspress.org/article/18330-the-impact-of-introducing-low-traffic-neighbourhoods-on-road-traffic-injuries

Government will reduce funding of councils that remove LTNs: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1007815/gear-change-one-year-on.pdf





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