Claims made by the Open Our Roads campaign – Myth & Reality

The Open Our Roads campaign can only support its ludicrous demands to open roads which are, in fact, already open, by resorting to claims for which they can produce no evidence.  Here we take a look at a few of them.

“The LTN has increased congestion”


  • Congestion seen frequently in the LTN before implementation, in Hamlet Road, round the Auckland Road/Cypress Road junction at the beginning and end of the school day, and on Southern Avenue and Lancaster Road has been eliminated. Delays to the 410 bus have reduced.
  • Surrounding main roads have been frequently congested for decades. On London-wide heavy traffic days, such as pre-Christmas shopping days, northbound Church Road has had similar traffic levels to previous years.
  • The removal of the Church Road obstruction has alleviated the queuing on Anerley Hill and southbound on Church Road.
  • South Norwood Hill has always been heavily congested and remains so; rephasing the traffic lights at the bottom of South Norwood Hill may help alleviate the problems caused by vehicles turning right.
  • Evaluation of similar schemes in Waltham Forest and Lambeth suggests little adverse impact on congestion on boundary roads.
“Diverted traffic onto other residential roads”


There is some occasional evidence of diversion in the morning peak on to some streets at the northern end of the LTN in the Bromley council area, but traffic volumes on the affected streets are, at worst, a fraction of those previously on Auckland Road and other LTN streets. See our evaluation. There is even less following the removal of the obstruction in Church Road.

If there is a problem, it could simply be dealt with by Bromley following central government guidance. One modal filter or short section of one-way would eliminate it.

OOR cannot have it both ways. They express concern about the use of some streets by through traffic while also, in a councillor briefing, saying it was “very sensible” that drivers used Lancaster Road and Southern Avenue to bypass the South Norwood Hill junction.

“Increased pollution on main roads”


  • OOR’s only evidence to support this assertion is a map showing modelled pollution levels for 2020 as a whole. It does not show whether pollution has increased or decreased after August, still less that any change is caused by the LTN.
  • Evidence from Waltham Forest shows shows improved air quality on 90% of streets with no adverse impact on main roads.
“Delays to emergency vehicles”


  • No evidence to support this claim.
  • Emergency response times in Waltham Forest have improved following implementation of similar schemes.
  • If the council implements ANPR access over roads which are currently blocked to motor vehicles, any issues for emergency vehicles would be removed entirely.
“Prevented access to essential services”


  • No evidence.
  • All residential addresses and services (eg doctor) in LTN remain accessible by vehicle.
  • Proposed change to LTN will improve access to doctor.
  • The council is proposing to allow access through ANPR gates for local health workers.
  • Scaremongering about refuse and recycling collections and supermarket deliveries has turned out to be completely false.
“Disproportionate adverse impact on BAME people”

DEMONSTRABLE FAKE NEWS (see below for further explanation)

  • There is no evidence that BAME people in the area are more likely to live on main roads and no evidence (see above) of worse pollution on main roads.
  • The BAME population of the LTN is higher than the Croydon average.
  • Much of the comparator area with a higher BAME population cannot be adversely affected by the CPSNLTN because it is in other LTNs! (Albert Road and Holmesdale Road)
“There has been no increase in cycling and walking”


  • Responses to the council consultation show that 200 residents report walking and cycling more. 70 report their children are walking and cycling more.
  • Before and after counts by residents suggest at least tripling of walking and cycling movements on Sylvan Hill.
  • Evidence from Waltham Forest shows LTNs are effective in encouraging walking and cycling and lower car ownership.
“Most of the day these roads were quiet”


  • Council’s January 2019 data shows over 290 vehicles an hour on Auckland Road in one direction continuously from 8am to 9pm.
  • Auckland Road was busier than nearby A road (Central Hill).
  • Speed data demonstrates that 85% of this traffic was speeding.
“The 2013 baseline data for Auckland Road is unreliable because there was severe winter weather at the time”


  • 1500-2000 vehicles a day were using Auckland Road, some at speeds over 30 mph, so it clearly was not impassable.
  • Schools were closed for one day out of 10 week days in the sample.
  • On one of the days in the 2013 sample, 17,000 people watched Palace have a goalless draw with Bolton in Selhurst Park.
  • This is Croydon, not Siberia.
“There is no evidence of any traffic increase within the LTN”


OOR used the graph above, though they omitted the word ‘specific’ to dishonestly convey that 17 specific roads (only one of which was in the LTN) showed a “trend mirrored across all C and unclassified roads in the Borough of Croydon”.

This is what the DfT says about this method of ‘extrapolation’:

“The DfT traffic estimation process for minor roads is carried out at a regional level, and the traffic count sample is selected for producing regional and national level estimates. The traffic count data for a given location can be used to understand the trends for that specific minor road. However individual counts at minor road locations cannot be combined to produce a Local authority level. Traffic estimates for a local authority would need a larger sample size, and can’t be inferred from a limited number of raw minor road counts in that area. Please also note that traffic estimates are created from multiple sources, therefore changes in traffic in an area cannot be explained by changes in raw counts alone.”

“There are no shops in the LTN and residents face as much as a 35 minute walk to reach any”


  • There are numerous shops on the boundary roads or very close to the LTN in the Triangle and South Norwood.
  • Over 90% of addresses in the LTN are within 10 minutes’ walk or 5 minutes’ cycling of at least one food store.
  • The remainder are within 15 minutes’ walk.
“Reduced access and congestion has crippled local business”


  • OOR can’t decide whether the problem is too little motor access (“blocked” roads) or too much (“gridlock and pollution”).
  • Only three local businesses have publicly supported OOR’s claims.
  • Meanwhile, 14 new businesses have opened in the Triangle, in the middle of the pandemic. Their owners clearly don’t think it is a poor retail or hospitality environment.
  • 85% of local businesses did not even respond to the council consultation. The LTN is clearly not an issue for them.


The OOR briefing document claims (page 6) that “the ethnic and equality issues are of serious and immediate concern.”

Its basis for this claim is a comparative analysis of the LSOAs in the LTN area with a selection of other LSOAs outside the LTN to the south west and south.

It claims that traffic has been diverted from the LTN to this comparator area. 

There are a number of unsatisfactory aspects to the analysis:

  • The selection of comparator LSOAs does not include several which adjoin the LTN to the west and north west. Yet it includes others which are quite remote from it, for example along Tennison Road and Davidson Road.
  • Most of the population of the comparator area does not live along main roads or other streets along which traffic has been diverted.  Indeed, significant parts of the comparator area are in another LTN (Albert Road) or either side of Holmesdale Road, which has had modal filters installed. Even if there were a demonstrable adverse impact from diverted traffic, it would not affect the majority of the population of the comparator area, in any event.
  • The analysis compares the “black” population of the LTN and the comparator area (it appears this means the Black/African/Caribbean/Black British category, not the minority ethnic population as a whole).  It is not clear why the comparison is based only on a subset of minority ethnic communities.

The table below sets out a more logical analysis, comparing the LTN to the LSOAs which directly adjoin it.

The conclusions are:

  • The LTN area is majority-minority, more so than the borough as a whole (56.8 % compared with 52.7 %).
  • The comparator area is slightly more diverse than the LTN (63.3 % compared with 56.8 %). But the most diverse parts of the comparator area are themselves in the Albert Road LTN or adjoining Holmesdale Road, along which traffic has been reduced by modal filters.
  • Income levels in the LTN and the comparator area are broadly similar, except for two poorer areas (but those benefit from their own traffic reduction measures).

It is also worth noting that the Albert Road LTN and Broad Green LTN are significantly more diverse than the borough as a whole. The latter is nearly 80 % ethnic minority, and one of its LSOAs is in the poorest 10 % in England.

The OOR claim about adverse equalities impact is not supported by the evidence.

Crystal Palace and South Norwood LTN
LSOAPopulation% minority ethnicIncome decile (1=lowest)
001A (part)105249.64
Comparator area (LSOAs adjoining LTN)
001A (part)105249.64
* Located in Albert Road LTN or adjoining filtered Holmesdale Road

5 thoughts on “Claims made by the Open Our Roads campaign – Myth & Reality

  1. You must live with your head in the sand if you say that traffic has not significantly increased on South Norwood since the LTN. I live on the road so will not be not otherwise and by someone who is probably unaffected. There are queues of traffic every day all day heading south. It’s utterly shameful that this is next to a school. Yes there might be ways to fix this but I doubt changing the lights will
    make much of an impact when traffic is both ways at the junction. I’ve not seen any signs of the council doing anything to address months and months after, meanwhile those living on the main road continue to suffer.


    1. Thanks for writing in Robert.

      We would not dispute that there is a problem with excess traffic on South Norwood Hill, though not as bad as opponents of the LTN make out. For example, see these date/time stamped photos taken during the ‘rush hour’.

      In fact traffic on South Norwood Hill has always been a problem. Even before COVID and the LTN, it was not uncommon for traffic to be backed up to Woodvale Avenue going south, and Cypress Road going north.

      Then again, traffic levels on South Norwood Hill had almost halved between 2000 and 2019. 14079 vehicles a day have simply disappeared.

      We can say that the following factors have changed traffic locally, but no-one has the data to prove their consequences:

      • Through traffic pushed back from the LTN to main roads
      • LTN providing drivers with a safe alternative to try active travel instead of driving
      • COVID meaning more people work from home
      • COVID meaning less people using public transport.

      So yes, there is a problem. There is too much traffic on main roads, and people need to be encouraged to get out of their cars. This is one of the purposes of the LTN, and it is working. But further steps need to be taken to encourage the over 50% of Croydon drivers who drive distances of less than 3km.


  2. Since the LTN scheme has been in place increased rat run traffic on my road Canham, Ross Road, and Wharncliffe Road has quadruppled.

    Traffic jams on my road pumping out polluting fumes that did not occur before LTN

    So denying it has not effected other areas and traffic has not transfered to other side roads because car users are finding alternative rat runs is ridiculous and idiotic.

    The worse thing is dreading even more traffic when real traffic use returns when Covid has gone and more people return to work and return to using their cars more.


    1. Thanks Tibor. I agree that traffic on Canham/Ross/Wharnecliffe is unacceptable. The answer is create another LTN here. We would be only too happy to support a campaign for this. We have already helped and supported other local LTNs such as Holmesdale and Albert Road.


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