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.


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