Bromley residents are now crying out for more safety on their streets. But will the car-loving Tory Bromley Council listen to their pleas?
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are a policy initiative of the Tory government, yet backwoods Bromley Tories oppose them, championing the ‘rights’ of motorists to drive everywhere.
But are constraints to driving totally alien in Bromley? In fact, Bromley Council deploy most available methods of controlling traffic: chicanes, reducing lane width, one-way streets, 20mph speed limits, speed bumps, and dare we say LTNs, though no doubt they call them something else. Back in August 2020, our active travel correspondent Katie Crowe took a cycle tour of the area and identified many LTNs that have been around for decades (What we talk about when we talk about filtering).
Residents who walked more when rat-running traffic was removed have spoken out.
Report and videos by road safety campaigner Lee Baker
Resident Jane left her car behind for a lot of trips when the low traffic neighbourhood was in place. Since high traffic is back on her streets, Jane, who lives off Avenue Road, says: “It’s really unpleasant to walk or cycle and I don’t do it as much now.”
Given the quantity of data measured by DfT and other authorities, you would expect to find any number of studies into rat-run traffic. But no. Traffic statistics galore; traffic evaporation, yes. Even our favourite Rachel Aldred, Professor in Transport at the University of Westminster specialising in active mobility, appears to have only published a think-piece.
But the provision of more data from the Speedvisor device on Auckland Road gives us the opportunity to delve into this pernicious phenomenon.
One day this week I cycled to do my weekly shop in a nearby supermarket, a round trip of around three miles.
I’m approaching the age when I won’t be able any longer to claim I am middle-aged. I choose to cycle this errand because it gives me some healthy exercise during an often desk/zoom-bound day, and to avoid using my car for a short, local, journey when there is a workable alternative, and I doubt the car would be materially quicker. Doing my bit for air quality and traffic congestion. Walking wouldn’t work, because of the distance and time, and because I can’t carry on foot nearly as much as I can pack on my bike. I should make it clear that I have been cycling for over 50 years. I am a qualified driver too. I am cautious and I am experienced at anticipating poor behaviour by other road users.
I resumed cycling in summer 2020 when Croydon Council put in place a number of healthy or low traffic neighbourhoods. (I had stopped a few years before after several scares, including a driver threatening to kill me for no apparent reason other than he objected to my presence on the road.) The one I live in, and one nearby, provided me with a nearly traffic free cycling route to the supermarket. Unfortunately, the council was panicked into dismantling the one in my neighbourhood after just six months. The planned modified scheme has not been implemented, five months after the council Cabinet signed it off. So roughly half my journey is now on back streets carrying main road volumes of traffic.
In Summer 2020, LB Croydon introduced Streetspace LTN measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the national (DfT) and regional (TfL) Streetspace programme.
The measures appear to have reduced personal injury collisions in the LTN area and at its junctions with the main road network byaround 70%, against an increase in overall collisions at borough level.
The injury collision rate on boundary main roads was not observed to have increased, and overall the observed injury collision rate across the area (the LTN plus its boundary main roads) is 20% lower than expected.
It is likely that around six or seven injury collisions were prevented over the six month period during which the measures were in effect, and that a similar effect would be observed pro rata in a longer trial.
A strong positive effect on reducing collision rates was observed both within the LTN itself, and at the boundary junctions where minor roads meet the main road network.
However, the short time period that the measures were in place for (just 6 months), and the inability of this study to measure risk exposure (in terms of injuries per person/km walked or cycled), means that these figures are subject to some degree of uncertainty.
A longer trial period backed by detailed traffic counts for both active travel modes (to measure risk exposure) and motor vehicles (to assess traffic volumes and road user behaviour) would provide a more statistically robust result – an 18 month trial would be expected to prevent around 20 injuries across the area road network if the observed trend is shown to be correct.
Given the overall profile of injury collisions on local roads, Streetspace LTN measures cannot be considered a panacea, and further Streetspace trials should be supported by complementary measures to improve safety on main roads – in particular, improved pedestrian facilities at main road junctions.
Why are we so confident that our Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Upper Norwood will win in the end? It’s simple. The tide of history has changed.
The onslaught of car dominance over people started in the 1950s. In cities, trams and trolleybuses were removed. Buildings were bulldozed to make way for roads. In rural areas the rail network was decimated.
This email is on behalf of Shape Better Streets, a resident campaign for traffic reduction and active travel in the LTN area you will be discussing next week. We broadly support Cllr Ali’s decision to reinstate the LTN in modified form.
The fate of Auckland Road as a Healthy Street experiment is about to come under scrutiny. It is almost unbelievable that there would be any opposition to a Healthy Street, but sadly these questions need to be answered.
It looks like Auckland Road will become the backbone of an experimental ANPR controlled Healthy Streets scheme. But instead of a watered-down 2nd generation Low Traffic Neighbourhood, how would we design it if we genuinely wanted to demonstrate what a people friendly neighbourhood could really look like?
Croydon Council has talented highway engineers who must be praying to do more than just put in ANPRs. What would they deliver if they worked in the Netherlands, Denmark, or Germany?
Opponents of LTNs, in this area and elsewhere, frequently assert that they have adverse impacts on the groups in our society who are legally protected under equalities legislation. This blog takes a dispassionate look at the evidence and finds these claims at best unsubstantiated, and in some cases completely unsupported, on the balance of evidence.
A local initiative is taking off to inform the debate around traffic management and policy in Crystal Palace. Volunteers are installing a number of stand-alone traffic counters using Raspberry Pi devices running Telraam software. This is an open source traffic-counting system that has been developed by a team in Belgium specifically to promote citizen science-led traffic policy.
Residents and supporters of our campaign were dismayed to read your announcement that the current LTN measures will be taken out before the implementation of the planned new experimental layout, and, indeed, before there is any clarity about the timetable on which it will be implemented. I am sure you realise, but I must put on record, that a return to being a high traffic neighbourhood will have a devastating impact on well-being and quality of life for residents, particularly many with protected characteristics, and reverse the enormous progress which has been made in encouraging active travel.
For centuries, we were quite happy to think that time was constant until Einstein spoilt everything by advancing his theory that time was relative. But it has taken the advent of our local LTN for oppositionists to posit that a road that takes 5 minutes 10 seconds to cycle is causing 40 minute delays to car journeys.
So we thought we should provide some context. Here you can see how people are adapting to the new safe environment that is Auckland Road (and Lancaster Road):
Whatever might be in store for the LTN, one thing for sure is that the planters will become redundant. Here’s a proposal to make use of them that requires the least effort or transport costs. Some members of our community clearly like their planters, so this proposal offers continuity for them to care for and decorate ‘their’ planters.
Some of our local representatives seem to have been caught up in the meme that the opponents of the LTN ‘won the vote’. If they had been paying attention, rather than getting caught up in OOR hysteria, they should have spotted that it was a consultation. So looking beyond the simplicity of the numbers let’s see what this consultation actually revealed.
The most striking feature was that 75% of residents were so unconcerned about the LTN that they did not think it was worth responding.
Supporters of the LTN broadly support the proposals in the officers’ report to the Traffic Management Advisory Committee, though some would prefer that the LTN was preserved in its current format with planters.
However, almost unanimously, we believe that permitting local residents to drive through the bus gate undermines some of the objectives of the LTN.
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.
Traffic Management Advisory Committee 12 January 2021
Dear Committee Members
This email is on behalf of Shape Better Streets, a resident campaign for traffic reduction and active travel in the LTN area you will be discussing next week. We broadly support the proposals in the officer paper.
The phenomenon of evaporating traffic is so interesting that we devote a sub-section to it on our Resources page. Opponents of LTNs all over the world like to claim that restricting traffic in one area just displaces it to another. This may well happen over a short period, but quite quickly, enough people change their mode of travel so that overall traffic reduces and in some cases it even happens on the boundary roads.
But now for something completely different.
This post is going to look for a more mysterious form of disappearing traffic, as it has apparently occurred without intervention, nobody has spotted it nor divined where it might have gone.
It is the season to be magnanimous so it is only fitting that we should admit that opponents of the LTN have finally supplied the killer blow to our attempts to demonstrate that traffic patterns over the last 10 years prove the need for the LTN.