Facts and Figures

  • There is ‘no evidence’ that LTNs alone change car use.
    • Findings of a longitudinal study of London ‘mini-Hollands’ one year in showed a trend of an increased use of active travel, including cycling. However the data showed “as yet no evidence of change in car use“.
    • Most people don’t realise that the study covered three “mini hollands”: Enfield, Kingston and Waltham Forest. Of the three, only Waltham Forest created a ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ during the period measured.
    • It is therefore not clear whether the increase in active travel was a result of the ‘low traffic neighbourhood’, or was linked to the significant investment in cycling infrastructure and improved pedestrian crossings – features missing from Ealing’s immediate plans.
    • A follow up study covering three years of data is pending publishing, but a preview summary from the author in TFL’s Travel In London Report 12 said “Mini-Holland interventions in ‘high-dose’ areas seem to be causing increased uptake of active travel, both in terms of increased average time spent on active travel (in all waves), and participation in cycling (waves 1 and 3) and any active travel (wave 2). On the other hand, trends related to car use are more contradictory, with only some weak evidence in wave 2 of reduced car use. Finally, there continues to be evidence that these interventions have led to improved perceptions of the local environment.
  • LTNs must not just be about ‘making life difficult for car drivers’ says EU report.
    • The EU Commission’s LTN report, Reclaiming city streets for people, clearly states in its guidance that “Road space reallocation should be seen as one part of an integrated strategy. If you take away space from car drivers, be prepared to give something back in return, for example, an upgraded cityscape, better public transport services or improved cycling conditions. Road space reallocation is not about making life difficult for car drivers, it is about improving the mobility options and quality of urban life for all.
  • Traffic reduction is usually more than expected but it is not a given.
    • The definitive study into traffic evaporation (Cairnes et al) is at pains to point out that “every scheme to reallocate roadspace is different, and so the effects of any plan will be highly dependent on individual circumstances“, and yet right now councils are rolling out cookie-cutter schemes with little thought to the differences – especially ignoring the issue of highly residential main roads. Back in 2001 most people thought traffic was static. It seems in 2020 most planners assume traffic reduction is an absolute given.
  • Failure to improve alternatives can result in traffic ‘creeping back to its original level or higher
    • Cairnes et al notes that “in some cases, over time, traffic appears to creep back to its original level, or higher—presumably because the ‘deterrent’ provided by the change in network conditions, the increase in attractiveness of alternatives and the other policies operating in the area are not sufficient to result in long-term changes in travel behaviour.” – hence our concern about a lack of investment in alternatives.
  • If residents are not given improved alternatives, schemes may simple force them to move.
    • Cairnes et al concludes that longer term responses resulting in traffic evaporation may be as a result of “changes in job location” and “changes in household location“. In other words. if you make the traffic unbearable without improving alternatives, people will simply move. This is a form of gentrification.
  • ‘Reducing traffic and its pollution on “main roads” is essential’ for LTNs to work.
    • The study’s co-author, Phil Goodwin, recently weighed into the LTN debate on Twitter: “Low traffic neighbourhoods are exciting & essential. Reducing traffic and its pollution on ‘main roads’ is also essential. Without an overall traffic reduction plan, this will be divisive. With such plans, it can unify by improving quality of life for (nearly) all.
  • Roads on alternative routes ‘often’ and ‘in most case’ see an increase in traffic.