Now even Green councillors admit LTNs cause 'more harm than good'

Now even Green councillors admit LTNs cause ‘more harm than good’: Party candidates lobby against ‘poorly designed’ traffic-calming measures across London

  • Several Green candidates in local elections are now campaigning against LTNs 
  • Maria Psaras, Green candidate in Crystal Palace, called them ‘poorly designed’ 
  • Another argued they had a ‘dispropriate impact’ on people with disabilities 

Green Party councillors have now joined the ranks of those opposing low-traffic neighbourhoods, saying the ‘poorly designed’ measures can cause ‘more harm than good’.

Several Green candidates in the upcoming local elections are now campaigning against LTNs – which close some roads to through-traffic to try to reduce pollution on residential streets. 

Among their criticisms were that the schemes simply force more cars onto already busy main roads and that many were introduced without proper consultation.

Cities across the country introduced LTNs soon after the first lockdown in March 2020 as part of their policy to reduce car traffic and encourage cycling and walking. Often, no proper pre-LTN monitoring was undertaken.

Several Green candidates in the upcoming local elections are now campaigning against LTNs –

Maria Psaras, a Green Party candidate for Crystal Palace in south London, is among those who have spoken out against the measures 

Many were met with fierce opposition for inconveniencing drivers, delaying some emergency vehicles, and increasing journey times for disabled people. 

Low-traffic neighbourhoods are blamed for delays to more than 3,000 fire engines out on emergency calls in London 

LTNs were blamed for delays to more than 3,000 fire engines out on emergency calls in the capital last year. 

Analysis of data from London Fire Brigade showed firefighters had slowed response times 3,035 times last year and a fifth of the delays happened because of traffic calming measures.

It was a 42 per cent increase on that stats for 2020, when traffic calming measures such as LTNs, speed bumps and 20mph zones caused 2,145 delays to firefighters.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘Well-designed traffic calming schemes need not cause congestion and can help the emergency services by reducing the amount of traffic on certain streets.

‘The detailed design of these schemes is a matter for local authorities.’   

Maria Psaras, a Green Party candidate for Crystal Palace in south London, has also spoken out against the measures, writing last year that they can ’cause more harm than good’, and has said local schemes had been ‘poorly consulted, designed and implemented’. 

Charith Gunawardena, a Green councillor in Enfield, north London, said LTNs have a ‘disproportionate negative impact on people with protected characteristics, including those on the lowest incomes, those with disabilities, and ethnic minorities,’ The Times reported.  

In Enfield, Charith Gunawardena, a Green councillor, who defected from the Labour Party in May last year, has campaigned against a local LTN because of complaints about pushing more traffic onto main roads.

Meanwhile, Southwark Green Party told campaign group One Dulwich that LTNs had been ‘introduced with poor levels of engagement, the sense of predetermined consultation and with limited phasing around implementation’.

Despite local opposition the central Green Party remains broadly supportive of the schemes. 

‘When implemented with sensitivity to local conditions and proper engagement with residents, low-traffic neighbourhoods are overwhelmingly popular,’ a spokesman said.

A raft of LTNs in London were scrapped last year after they were found to increase local congestion and caused ‘no material change in air quality’.

Ealing Council studied nine LTNs following outcry from residents, who gathered in their thousands outside the town hall in April to demand they be axed.   

Oxfordshire County Council received about 2,400 responses in its LTN consultation. Of those, 63 per cent said they objected, 11 per cent had ‘concerns’, while 26 per cent supported the schemes.

But despite three-quarters of residents being negative about LTNs, the council intended to rubber-stamp the measures being made permanent last month.

A protest sign reading ‘rethink LTN’ pictured last year in Kings Heath, Birmingham 

It was only at the last moment, in the face of increasingly angry residents, that it agreed to delay the decision.

Oxfordshire County Council said: ‘Through the consultation process so far, we have received valuable feedback from people in these groups, which we will use to help shape the final plans for the LTNs.’

LTNs have become an election issue across the country, with Conservatives in Birmingham urging people to  ‘join the fight to scrap the Kings Heath LTN’.

In Edinburgh, opposition is also being led by the Lib Dems, who have criticised the schemes as ‘unnecessary and disruptive’.  

 In Oxford, the Tories are making opposition to a new LTN an important feature of their campaign.

A young cyclist passes through the barriers that form an LTN in Southwark, London 

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