Cities in the UK and around the world are installing new bike lanes to help reduce emissions, but some claim they are making traffic worse. The argument goes that bike lanes means less space for cars and therefore more congestion. While this might sound plausible, it appears to hark back to outdated traffic management theory. Josh Toussaint-Strauss finds out how traffic really works, and the actual impact of installing new bike lanes.
Guardian, 19 May 2022
28 February 2022
Now more than ever we need safe and spacious routes for walking and cycling to stop the air and noise pollution, and danger that traffic inflicts on our neighbourhoods. That’s why we welcome the leadership of councils who are working tirelessly to make sure changes to streetspace aren’t lost as life returns to normal.Letter to Prime Minister: Simon MacMichael road.cc 3 September 2020
A new analysis finds special London cycle lanes, which aim to boost commuting by bicycle, do not negatively impact traffic speed
Hayley Dunning Imperial College London09 April 2021
Croydon has more air pollution deaths than any other London boroughs, data from Clean Air in London shows.
The data shows the number of deaths modelled so far this year due to pollution of PM2.5 particles in the air.
Of the London boroughs, deaths are highest in Croydon and lowest in Kensington & Chelsea.
Lucy Frost SWLondoner 8 April 2021
Campaigners should make clear why the culture of car dominance is so damaging. It’s about how cars currently dominate the street space, and how they should be made to behave as guests, which is what happens in low-traffic neighbourhoods…
Our sedentary lives are leading to an epidemic of non-communicable diseases. And cars have done more than any other invention to make us all less mobile.
Christian Wolmar & Pearl Ahrens, LabourList 5 April 20201
Low traffic neighbourhoods are part of building a fairer city, argues Rachel Aldred
Walking has long been marginalised on our roads, with parked or moving motor vehicles taking the majority of urban road space on major and minor roads alike. The normal way of things is that pedestrians stick to the footway and cars get the main carriageway. We learn to cross with care (look right, left, right again) because we don’t expect drivers to stop for us outside of formal crossings – and not always then.
This normal way of things has particularly harmed children, who cannot travel safely without adults in car-dominated streets. Deprived of independent mobility, they are left ‘less self-sufficient, less healthy and less free’. The car society is unequal in many ways, with a steep social gradient for car ownership and use. The poor drive less, but suffer more from road injuries and other negative impacts of other people’s driving.
Red Pepper 31 March 2021
Given seemingly daily stories of drivers not noticing things in their path such as pedestrians, signs, and speed limits – the idea that passing traffic will notice and prevent a crime from taking place is difficult to believe… Spreading unnecessary fear and doubt throughout the community will do nothing to help the women of the UK, who already have so much to be concerned about.
Sarah Berry Highways 22 March 2021
The public’s growing enthusiasm for walking and cycling around UK towns and cities must be supported and encouraged as the country emerges from Covid-19 lockdowns, transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris has said.
He said there was huge interest in “active travel” in the UK and called on people to walk and cycle wherever possible. He cites £2bn fund as evidence of commitment to supporting ‘active travel’.
Matthew Taylor, The Guardian 18 March 2021
Climate anxiety: Survey for BBC Newsround shows children losing sleep over climate change and the environment
When asked about their futures:
- Most children told us they are worried about the impact that climate change will have on them when they’re older, and
- One in five have even had a bad dream about it.
But when asked about the action being taken by grown-ups to tackle the problem:
- Two in five don’t trust adults to tackle the challenges that climate change presents, and
- Two-thirds say leaders aren’t listening enough to young people’s views.
BBC Newsround 3 March 2020
Data dispels myth that low-traffic neighbourhoods are disproportionately found in privileged areas
Antonio Voce and Peter Walker
Guardian 2 Mar 2021
- Over 1.4 million more children rode their bikes during the first lockdown in 2020, according to Sport England’s annual Active Lives Children and Young People survey
- between May and July the number of children aged 5-11 cycling for fun or fitness increased by 18.4% compared to 2019
- The number cycling for travel to places such as schools also increased by 5.6%.
by ALEX BOWDEN road.cc, 15 January 2021
As a bus driver I’ve noticed the road closures, but it’s a good thing they’ve stopped cars going down some roads. I believe government and councils are doing their very best to keep people safe, and that’s something to say thank-you for.
London’s happiest bus driver, Islington Tribune, 15 January 2021
Sweden is testing designs to help activate individual blocks, in what it calls “1-minute city” designs.
By ADELE PETERS Fast Company 12 January 2021
“The car became the owner of our cities, but we’re resetting the order again.”
Rune Gjøs, a director at Oslo’s Department of Mobility
“I think we are in a watershed moment… The smartest cities are not going to be the ones with the smartest technologies, but the ones where you don’t need a car in the first place.”
Janette Sadik-Khan, a former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation
UK government says plans helping people to walk and cycle should not be derailed by minority of noisy dissidents… Grant Shapps, the transport secretary: “Very few changes to anything will command unanimous support, and we do not ask it for these schemes. But there is clear evidence that for all the controversy they can sometimes cause, ambitious cycling and walking schemes have significant, if quieter, majority support.”
Peter Walker, Political correspondent Guardian 13 November 2020
The official justification, from the government, from TfL and from the council, for the LTNs is that they are trying to get motorists off the side streets and on to the major roads, where it belongs, part of a longer-term process to encourage us all to use the environmentally damaging cars less.
Official government transport figures show that across London, the amount of traffic using backstreets as rat runs has soared over the last decade. As things stand, the miles driven on “C” and unclassified roads will shortly eclipse the mileage on the capital’s A-roads.
Paul Lushion Inside Croydon 1 November 2020
YouGov poll found positive views on LTNs are three times higher than negative ones
And amid the daily froth of sometimes entirely false stories about LTNs closing roads, or slowing emergency service response times, one thing is often forgotten: these schemes tend to be very popular…Peter Walker Guardian 22 Oct 2020
Because if one thing is clear, it’s that the status quo just won’t work. It’s an obvious point, but has to be said: gridlocked residential streets aren’t caused by a handful of cycle lanes, or social distancing-friendly expanded pavements, or a few streets filtered with bollards. They’re caused by too many cars, vans and trucks – and in the case of the cars, often carrying a single able-bodied adult a laughably short distance…
I don’t underestimate how difficult it is for councillors to face abuse, hostility and even threats of violence after changing a long-assumed status quo. But for those who are wavering, I would urge them to bear two things in mind.
Firstly, if you eliminate an LTN, or another traffic-taming intervention, you’re not solving anything. But also, for all the noise from a minority, as the Greenpeace survey shows, they are a minority. These changes are popular.
She told electors she would remove the great majority of the on-street car parking spaces in Paris. And despite car parking being the supposed “third rail” of urban politics — touch it at your peril — she comfortably won a second term.
Carlton Reid, Forbes 20 Oct 2020
New data released today by Strava Metro showed the number of people newly taking up cycling in the capital peaked in May, with 119 per cent year-on-year growth.
Naomi Ackerman Evening Standard 23 September 2020
The most congested day so far was Monday 7 September, when congestion stood at 153% of 2019 levels.
Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent Guardian 15 Sep 2020
Four architecture firms share their visions of what cities should do, now, to better design everything from offices to streets to transport
Guardian 25 Sep 2020
Hackney Council to “completely transform” its energy, transport and public space to meet zero-carbon target
Main roads are for vehicles to pass through. And what has happened is we have created a road network that does not have sufficient capacity to accommodate all the cars on the network. What we have done over the decades is we have allowed our residential areas to become a kind of pressure release valve for the main roads.Jon Burke, Hackney councillor quoted by Marcus Fairs in dezeen 25 September 2020
The answer for that problem is not to open up residential streets and allow them to accommodate even more cars. The answer is to deliver holistic approaches to reduce the overall number of cars. That shouldn’t be a radical statement.
Data from TfL has found that more than half a million daily Croydon car journeys could be taken on foot or by bicycle, so unlocking this potential could have massive benefits for our residents’ health. During Covid-19, helping families stay fit and healthy is more important now than ever.Councillor Muhammad Ali, Croydon Council’s deputy cabinet lead for transport and the environment Your Croydon 18 September 2020
Living Streets Blog 17 August 2020
Carlton Reid Forbes 26 August 2020
Ashok Sinha, CEO of the London Cycling Campaign and Alan Clark, director of UK policy and government affairs at Lime
Air Quality News 22 July 2020
TfL estimates that without intervention, we will see a ‘car led recovery’ in cities like London with as much as a doubling of vehicles in Central London compared to pre-COVID levels.Ashok Sinha
That means double the congestion, air pollution and danger on our roads. Elsewhere in the UK, pollution levels are expected to soar and road deaths increase as cars crowd back on to roads.
We cannot let that happen.
JOE PAXTON reports from Upper Norwood after the first week of controversial road closures which, despite predictions of doom and gloom, have not caused Armageddon.
Inside Croydon, 8 August 2020
They are part of post-lockdown measures to encourage cycling and walking
ByTara O’Connor Local Democracy Reporter for MyLondon 6 August 2020
If we don’t want to just tolerate 64,000 excess deaths a year, and we don’t want to destabilise our climate, we have to reduce traffic. This is a proven way to do it, and I hope our councils go much further over the next year.News from Crystal Palace 3 August 2020
Let’s get one thing straight. The measures introduced in Upper Norwood on Monday are not road closures. The roads are open to residents and service providers. They are just “closed” to rat runners. Comments such as those made last week by councillor Pat Ryan go against his own council’s policies, and ignore the evidence available in his Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood ward.Inside Croydon 5 August 2020
Hokman Wong (specialist brain injury solicitor at Islington firm Bolt Burdon Kemp) looks at road safety in Islington and making streets safer with Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.
LONDON LIVING STREETS 4 August 2020
Network Rail and Cycling UK launch partnership as a fifth of Brits say they’re considering cycling for their journey to work
- A fifth (20 per cent) of Brits say they’re considering cycling to work, but are put off by busy roads and worries over their bike getting stolen
- Network Rail and Cycling UK partner to address these concerns with tips on safer cycle routes and storing bikes securely
- 5,000 secure bike storage spaces available at Network Rail’s 20 managed stations
Network Rail 3 August 2020
More temporary measures to encourage walking and cycling on Croydon residential streets and improve the local environment are due to come into force next week.
“In lockdown we saw a dramatic drop in traffic and pollution levels across Croydon, and these low-traffic schemes are about seizing the initiative to make our residential streets safer and more attractive to walkers, cyclists and residents alike.
“We have come up with these temporary measures because they make more of our roads attractive spaces for people to walk and cycle in, give everyone a safer and healthier local environment and they continue to allow traffic to get from A to B. If these latest schemes prove successful, we will consult the public to ask if they should become permanent.”
Just in case you think it is only happening in Crystal Palace, here is a statement from Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport
“Islington’s people-friendly streets will help make it easier to walk, cycle, scoot and use buggies and wheelchairs, whilst making streets safer, more pleasant and better-suited for social distancing.”
Islington Council 30 July 2020
- 1.3 million bikes have been sold since the crisis commenced
- 30% of poorer people want to start cycling
- Cycling or walking … connects us through physical effort to the operation of our soul
- Getting back on our bicycles is a sign of the resilient hope that human beings are capable of. As a society, we must make sure that the well being that cycling can bring should be available to all.
Rev Lucy Winkett, Thought for the Day BBC Radio 4, 30 July 2020
To curb cars and boost biking and walking, the city is rolling out low-traffic neighborhoods, with streets closed to non-local drivers. Not everyone is a fan.
By John Surico, Bloomberg CityLab, 28 July 2020
“We now have a unique opportunity to secure those benefits for future generations and we are committed to doing everything we can to reclaim our neighbourhoods for people, not cars,” Councillor Jon Burke, Hackney
Measures include watchdog to ensure quality and safety of walking and cycling routes
Guardian, 27 July 2020
Sunday Times, 26 July 2020
Active travel means making journeys by physically active means, like walking or cycling.
Investing in active travel can bring environmental, health and economic benefits:
- Promoting active travel can result in reduced emissions of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Particulate matter (PM) and CO2 helping to tackle climate change and improve air quality.
- Active travel can contribute towards the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity for adults each week, which are hugely important for maintaining health.
- Walking and cycling can contribute towards economic performance by reducing congestion, supporting local businesses and more. The benefit to cost ratio of investments in walking and cycling are estimated at 5.62:1 (or ‘very high’ value for money).
Commons Research Briefing, 7 July 2020