Smart Transport

Research reveals keys to public support for low traffic neighbourhoods

A new study of 100 people living in low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) in London and Birmingham have suggested recommendations for how to improve future schemes.

The report has been put together by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and residents explained they want to see thorough engagement with local communities at proposal stage, and a more sensitive and gradual introduction of schemes, alongside additional measures to make it easier to get around without driving.

The Low Traffic Neighbourhoods Research Report is designed to help ensure that lessons are learned from Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) introduced during the first COVID-19 lockdown.

The Government’s Net Zero Strategy and the COP26 summit reaffirmed the urgency of tackling traffic pollution, which is set to be a big topic of discussion heading into local elections next May.

NatCen led deliberative workshops with almost 100 people living in or near LTNs in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth, and the Lozells district of Birmingham.

The workshops provided residents - selected to ensure diversity and a wide range of views on LTNs - with impartial evidence and space for in-depth debate about schemes that local councils have implemented with government funding since last spring. 

Dr Ceri Davies, director of NatCen’s Centre for Deliberative Research, said: “This research strongly reflects the value of citizen engagement for generating solutions to contested and complex policy issues.

“We hope the insights from this research will support consultation on, and implementation of, successful sustainable transport schemes in the UK in the years to come.”

10 ways to make a success of LTNs, according to residents

Consultation and engagement

1.   Local authorities to engage with LTN residents, boundary residents and businesses from the very start, and provide relevant information.

2.   Any consultation or resident engagement to be on an ongoing basis and ensure that it is inclusive and accessible to all e.g. taking account of low literacy in English or digital exclusion.

3.   A credible rationale for LTNs including an explanation of why they are needed in a particular area and the likely benefits e.g. any evidence for the reduction of traffic and improvement in air quality.

Implementation

4.   Local authorities to provide a map of all the LTNs across their borough and neighbouring boroughs to help residents navigate them effectively. In addition to this, the introduction of LTNs (and any changes to them) to be updated on sat-nav systems.

5. LTNs and any new measures to be introduced gradually and include a “grace period” to allow residents time to understand and adjust to new measures, e.g. issuing a warning and not a fine on the first one or two incidents. 

6.   Exemptions and resident passes to be available for those who need exemptions under the right conditions e.g. Blue Badge holders.

7.   Signage and traffic cameras to be clearly visible so that they cannot be missed.

8.   Barriers and planters to be more flexible to allow access for key groups such as emergency services.

Complementary measures to promote alternatives to car use

9.   Incentivising people to walk (by introducing better street lighting), and cycle (by making roads safer), as well as providing more secure on street bike storage.

10. Better communications around cycling and walking options within LTNs as well as improved public transport services that are more frequent, comfortable, accessible and affordable. 



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