105 local authorities responded to the media outlet’s enquiry, which asked regional transport authorities and local councils to provide information on the number of LTNs installed since March 2020, and how many had been scrapped.
In the 105 authorities, 189 LTNs had been installed since March 2020 and 52 (28 per cent) have since been removed. In London, 30 per cent of the LTNs have been removed after negative feedback - some without any consultation period.
Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, told i some councils removed schemes without even waiting for data to show whether they were encouraging more active travel or improving air quality.
“Too often, people wanted to remove things because they thought it would cause more congestion, that it would cause increased air pollution,” he told i. “They didn’t wait for an evaluation. Not every scheme that was put in place was therefore fully consulted on, or perfect. The problem we then had was that too many councils ripped out schemes that weren’t perfect, instead of saying ‘how do we tweak it?’”
LTNs became a major agenda in 2020, when ministers put together a £250m emergency fund for immediate, “experimental” changes to road layouts, as part of a wider £2bn investment in walking and cycling across England.
They boomed in cities as an attempt to encourage more people to walk and cycle instead of using public transport because of Covid-19, but many have also been put in place to permanently calm down the traffic and improve air quality. Ministers titled the initiative often as the “walking and cycling revolution”.
The planters, bollards and other traffic calming measures have, however, been repeatedly vandalised across the country and those supporting them have become subject to abuse, making them a toxic issue.
Opponents of LTNs argue they push more traffic to perimeter roads and cause difficulties for the elderly and disabled.
Adam Tranter, cycling and walking commissioner for the West Midlands told inews that some schemes failed simply because of a “lack of political will”, with councils conceding too readily to LTN opponents.
“We have across the country many local authorities who have not been prioritising active travel for decades,” Tranter said. “Change is really hard, and you have to bring people with you. But the important thing here is not to mistake bringing people with you as some sort of veto for making the bold decisions we need to in the face of a climate crisis and inactivity crisis.”