Local support for LTN

Here’s the view of local resident Martin Wheatley posted on Facebook

There’s been a lot on here [Facebook ] recently about Croydon Council’s existing and planned changes to Auckland Road and nearby streets – of which I am a resident. With no disrespect to the views which have been expressed, and for the sake of balance, let me offer a different take.

First, I don’t need to point out, after the last few months, that our greatest national challenge now is controlling a pandemic disease, for which both poor air quality and obesity, caused by lack of physical activity, cause significant additional risk. As a consequence, the government is encouraging councils to take radical steps to reduce motor car use and encourage active travel.

Second, in recent years, we have all, by default, been experiencing increasingly seriously the consequences of not restricting motor vehicle use at all. The amount of traffic cutting through the streets to the east of Church Road and South Norwood Hill has been steadily increasing. Recent counts by residents in Sylvan Hill and Auckland Road show daily traffic volumes of over 6,000 a day (compared with the TfL guideline for residential streets of 2,000 at most). Resident surveys carried out at the same time show this has a real impact on health and quality of life: noise, air pollution, traffic danger, cracking to buildings, disrupted sleep, mental ill-health.

Third, lots of people in the neighbourhood do not own or use a private car. At the time of the 2011 census, 40% or more of households did not have access to a vehicle. Though there are no more recent figures at very local level, the rate of car ownership across Croydon as a whole has declined since then. All those people gain nothing from their streets being open to unrestricted traffic, and suffer the consequences outlined above.

Fourth, there’s been lots of comment on here about how traffic currently using these streets will simply switch on to the Triangle and other main roads, causing even worse congestion there. However, in Waltham Forest, a part of London not dissimilar to this, where measures such as the council here is implementing were started several years ago, impressive gains have been made in air quality, noise reduction and more active travel on residential streets, while the main roads have not become significantly worse. It appears a considerable element of the traffic has just “evaporated” – people using cars less, not driving through the area at all and so on. It’s explained in more detail in the official study here.

Finally, we can all speculate about what the problems and the benefits of these measures will be, but the only way of finding out for certain is to try it and see, as the council are proposing. Since the measures do not involve a lot of expense, they can be fine-tuned as we go along. If the measures are indeed nothing but trouble, presumably the council will decide to take them out at the end of the experiment.

Give it a go, I say!

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