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Government continues “angry rhetoric” against low traffic neighbourhoods despite its own report showing more people support LTNs than oppose them

Rishi Sunak’s Government was previously accused of attempting to bury the report which shows that LTNs have proven to be popular and largely effective

Weeks after it was reported that the official enquiry into low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) was subject to a cover-up attempt by the UK Government, the report has now been made public and it reveals that there are more people in favour of the traffic calming measure than in opposition, while they also prove to be generally effective in reducing motor traffic volume and result in behaviour change. 

However, London’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner Will Norman has attacked the government for continuing with its “load of angry rhetoric against LTNs, 20mph & even bus lane cameras”, despite its own research proving the benefits.

The said rhetoric came in the form of a new guidance from Department of Transport (DfT) under the government’s ‘Plan for Drivers’, titled ‘Crackdown on anti-driver road schemes and blanket 20mph limits to put local consent first’.

The guidance says that councils will only be able to implement LTNs if they have the support from locals. Failure to do so could see future funding withdrawn and the government could take control of an authority's roads.

> Government tried to bury report which found that Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are effective and popular

“Motorists are set to benefit from smoother journeys and reduced congestion, with local people getting a stronger voice on road schemes that affect them, thanks to a crackdown on anti-driver road schemes, over-zealous traffic enforcement, and strengthened guidance for councils on 20mph limits. These are among the latest raft of measures to be announced from the government’s Plan for Drivers,” DfT said in its press release.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper, meanwhile continued with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s “pro-car” stance by claiming that the government was “on the side of the motorists”.

Speaking on BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme, Harper said: “I think there are places where councils haven't taken people with them. There are examples during the pandemic when there was no consultation. Things were driven through for ideological reasons.

“I think what we're proposing is very sensible and if councils listen to our guidance that will be fine. If they don't we'll have to think about other measures about funding and things like that in the future.

“We want local people to have their voices heard, and any traffic schemes to have the consent of those they impact.”

Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said the publication of the guidance was “a blatant and desperate attempt to distract people from a government that has run out of road”.

> Rishi Sunak accused of seeking to exploit division over LTNs as he orders review of schemes

“Support for existing LTN schemes exceeds opposition”

The survey, conducted by French research and consulting firm Ipsos, focused on four LTN areas: Lozells Places for People in Birmingham, Arlington Road Camden in London, Worsley Mesnes in Wigan, and Navigation Road in York.

The survey had a very low response rate, with only an average of 14 per cent of the people living in the LTNs responding to the questions. However, one major takeaway from the survey was that most people — almost 60 per cent — weren’t even aware that they were living within an LTN.

Support for LTNs survey (UK Government/Ipsos)

When asked if they were in support or opposition of the measure, 45 per cent of the respondents said that they were in favour of it, with only 21 per cent claiming to be against it.

“Support for the existing LTN scheme in their area exceeded opposition to a similar degree among all age groups, among men and women, and those with and without a disability or health condition,” the report said.

> “Entitled motorists will stop at virtually nothing to drive where they want”: My week as a human bollard in one of Britain’s most controversial LTNs

Notably, it also mentioned that cyclists were more likely than car drivers to change their travel habits. Almost a third said they had been encouraged to cycle more and 19 per cent said that they now travel by car less.

A quarter of cyclists said that the scheme encouraged them to shop locally more often. Frequent cyclists with children were also far more likely to agree that the schemes would encourage their children to use active travel for (non-school) journeys than average.

However, those with a disability or health condition were significantly more negative about the impact of LTNs on traffic congestion; with 49 per cent thinking that it had made a negative difference compared to 38 per cent.

The report also reviewed existing evidence indicating that LTNs are effective in significantly reducing traffic volumes within internal roads. However, it noted that results for boundary roads were mixed, with some areas experiencing no impacts while a few experienced an increase in congestion.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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35 comments

Avatar
Hirsute | 4 months ago
2 likes

Jon Burke

"Cars in the U.K are up to 55% larger today than they were in the 1970s and there are twice the number of cars on the U.K's roads as there were 30 years ago, but

are still running articles claiming that a handful of cycle lanes and LTNs 'cause congestion' in London."

//pbs.twimg.com/media/GJBVSx0WUAAJOp-?format=png&name=small)

 

"remember when minis were actually minis?"

//pbs.twimg.com/media/GJBagpfXkAASz1z?format=jpg&name=small)

 

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chrisonabike | 4 months ago
1 like

Never mind LTNs - apparently we are already planning for them to be irrelevant within this decade because flying taxis. (Future Of Flight plan - according to the beeb).

I must dig out the films from the previous century to see how it's going to be...

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bensynnock | 4 months ago
6 likes

There's a nice new protected cycle lane and zebra crossing outside my daughter's primary school.

Almost every day there's a car pulled up on the zig zags with two wheels in the cycle lane. Today it was a taxi. All this talk about 'outside schools' is just rubbish. None of them give a damn about the safety of kids.

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Patrick9-32 replied to bensynnock | 4 months ago
4 likes

If its only outside schools they can pretend they didn't see it. If its standard everywhere there is no excuse. 

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OldRidgeback replied to bensynnock | 4 months ago
5 likes

My commute takes me past a very popular state secondary school (that was attended by a famous rock star and has his name on one of the buildings). There are double yellow lines between the school's two main buildings, as well as zig zag lines before the pedestrian crossing that is supposed to allow kids to cross the road  safely between the buildings. And every morning I see parents at drop off time driving onto the pavement at these no parking areas. I've seen parents make sudden u-turns and then have to brake suddenly to avoid hitting kids. It's terrible.

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Mr Hoopdriver | 4 months ago
6 likes

"We want local people to have their voices heard, and any traffic schemes to have the consent of those they impact."

"Rat running drivers are impacted by these LTN's therefore they must give consent before we implement them..."

FTFY.

"Mark Harper, meanwhile continued with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s “pro-car” stance by claiming that the government was 'on the side of the motorists'."

And sod the rest of you.

 

Avatar
eburtthebike | 4 months ago
8 likes

Just come across this on fb.  14 is my favourite.

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Hirsute | 4 months ago
3 likes

Came across this on twitter 15 March 2024

Office for Place - Helping create beautiful, successful & enduring places that foster a sense of community, local pride and belonging.

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/office-for-place

"Welcome to the Office for Place’s X page! The Office for Place is a new arms-length body. We will be helping neighbourhoods to create beautiful, successful & enduring places that foster a sense of community, local pride and belonging."

//pbs.twimg.com/media/GItl80WXYAAh2nL?format=jpg&name=small)

 

Lack of joined up thinking !

 

 

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chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 4 months ago
1 like

Indeed - genuine concern for place (not placefaking) would certainly be welcome in the UK but a) it needs integrated and b) as always you're much better creating the right conditions [1] [2] [3] - then "places" will make themselves.

If we don't set the groundwork / connect this with our overall transport policy (and planning in general, including development / amenities) it's just the Office for Attractive Visualisations - helping to create visions as if we literally couldn't see all the motor traffic and parked cars, the damage that cause!  Dreams of place if there were BOTH motor vehicles AND people wandering freely through the public space, and as if more than 1% of journeys were cycled.

(Aside - anyone noticed how these visualisations- while utopian in "the pedestrian happily interacting with the driver" - tend not to have more than a scattering of cyclists?  Presumably don't want to frighten UK folks or the planners?  Where it's actually convenient to cycle you tend to see something more like this.)

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eburtthebike replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
3 likes
chrisonabike wrote:

(Aside - anyone noticed how these visualisations- while utopian in "the pedestrian happily interacting with the driver" - tend not to have more than a scattering of cyclists? 

I have made this very point any number of times to councils and planners, pointing out that their own policies put cyclists and walkers first.  Nothing changes.

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Steve K replied to Hirsute | 4 months ago
3 likes

This will be because some parts of government have Ministers accepting well evidence advice from officials and external stakeholders, whilst another is pushing desperate politically driven, culture war policies!

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eburtthebike | 4 months ago
12 likes

Mark Harper "Things were driven through for ideological reasons."

Yes, your stupid policies.

"We want local people to have their voices heard, and any traffic schemes to have the consent of those they impact.”

But only if they drive cars, agree with us and vote tory.

The guidance on LTNs is quite interesting, firm as it is on consultation, it doesn't appear to have been consulted on with anyone: sauce for the goose?

It is strong on other things, like continual monitoring of LTNs to ensure that they still meet their objectives, aren’t adversely affecting other areas, and are locally supported.  I wonder why other transport schemes are not subject to similar scrutiny, like massive road schemes for instance.

The guidance is aimed at suppressing LTNs, opening them to challenge from the vociferous minority of car addicts, and stopping them where possible.  It makes clear that Mr Harper will be casting a vindictive eye over these schemes, and he holds the purse strings, so few will be funded.  The guidance also mentions “other anti-motorist traffic schemes” which LTNs are not: they are pro-people.

Mark Harper is to transport as Liz Truss is to the economy: Truss in Transport, or TiT for short.

EDIT: what's the difference between LTNs and the tories?  LTNs are popular.

 

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HarrogateSpa replied to eburtthebike | 4 months ago
5 likes

It does seem particularly unreasonable to state that LTNs should be constantly under review.

Councils should be building an environment where active travel is prioritised, with commitment over 10 years or more, building the blocks one by one.

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chrisonabike replied to HarrogateSpa | 4 months ago
3 likes
HarrogateSpa wrote:

It does seem particularly unreasonable to state that LTNs should be constantly under review.

The "optics" here is obviously this is meant to come across as "we're keeping a close eye on them and at the first sign it's inconveniencing people driving / collects a small noisy opposition group, we'll remove it"

...however in a more neutral sense ("evidence-based policy") I think reviewing things is generally good.  And when these have issues / they need less direct access for cars / the motor vehicle road space can be reduced appropriate changes can be done with good data and plenty evidence for skeptics.

Of course currently it tends to be either "we'll set this up to fail then monitor for as just long enough to show there are problems (but not long enough to allow traffic patterns to adjust)" or "we won't say what success looks like so we'll have this under 'experimental' status for years..."

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bensynnock replied to HarrogateSpa | 4 months ago
5 likes

We have LTNs here in Southampton that have been in place for decades, although they were called something different when they were put in.

Here's a thought. Instead of reviewing the roads that have been closed, why don't we review the ones that haven't to see if we really do need through traffic at 40mph+ through residential areas?

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Mr Hoopdriver replied to eburtthebike | 4 months ago
0 likes

A similarity being that they both block progress.  Albeit one in a negative way.

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KDee | 4 months ago
6 likes

"Over-zealous traffic enforcement" 

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Patrick9-32 replied to KDee | 4 months ago
5 likes

That made me laugh as well. 

Is that over zealous enforcement of the speed limits? Oh no, 80% of drivers speed past clearly marked speed cameras if they know they aren't active so that can't be it.

Is that over zealous enforcement of parking restrictions? Oh no, every double yellow and pavement in the country is constantly covered in people's abandoned private property. 

Is that over zealous enforcement of licensing, insurance and safety of the vehicles on the road? Oh no, over 1 million people are driving on UK roads without insurance. 

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HLaB | 4 months ago
7 likes

War on motorists? I think that surrender was called in the 1960s  7

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dubwise | 4 months ago
2 likes

What's the problem?

Political parties do what political parties do.  They butter you up for your vote and then shaft you.

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Hirsute | 4 months ago
21 likes

from twitter

" You’re supposed to be the Dept of Transport not the Dept of Cars. Have you consulted your colleagues in the Depts of Health & Environment as to whether they want to deal with more victims of road traffic incidents and pollution effects because of your regressive attitude? "

Avatar
Clem Fandango | 4 months ago
17 likes

At this point, the Tories are so desperate I wouldn't be surprised if they promised to legalise drink driving - the hard working motorist deserves a couple of cheeky lagers after a hard day's work after all (get back into the office by the way, our rental income is dwindling) & what's a few extra dead cyclists and pedestrians between friends?

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chrisonabike replied to Clem Fandango | 4 months ago
10 likes

"Plan for Shit Drivers"

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mattw replied to Clem Fandango | 4 months ago
6 likes

A driver at the UK drink driving limits can get a 2 year prison sentence in France.

Drink driving is already legal in the UK.

https://www.frenchentree.com/living-in-france/driving/driving-in-france/...

 

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Clem Fandango | 4 months ago
6 likes
Clem Fandango wrote:

At this point, the Tories are so desperate I wouldn't be surprised if they promised to legalise drink driving - the hard working motorist deserves a couple of cheeky lagers after a hard day's work after all (get back into the office by the way, our rental income is dwindling) & what's a few extra dead cyclists and pedestrians between friends?

How about a "three strikes" rule - you can kill/maim three people using your car before you face any penalties?

Avatar
Clem Fandango replied to hawkinspeter | 4 months ago
6 likes

Only three?
I assume there'd be some way of buying your way out if you have the cash and you shout "wokerati" and "snowflakes" loudly enough?

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Clem Fandango | 4 months ago
7 likes
Clem Fandango wrote:

Only three? I assume there'd be some way of buying your way out if you have the cash and you shout "wokerati" and "snowflakes" loudly enough?

Well, obviously the "penalties" are going to start off with £50 fines (£25 if paid within 2 weeks)

Avatar
Hirsute | 4 months ago
7 likes

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/crackdown-on-anti-driver-road-schemes...

"Local people will have their say on whether they think enforcement is currently fair or believe authorities should be restricted in their traffic enforcement powers"

I dunno will turkey's vote for christmas?

I was only 5 minutes, it's a war on motorists, it's victimless, cash cow.

"Consultations are also launching focusing on preventing local councils from turning drivers into ‘cash cows’ by profiting from enforcing traffic restrictions."

Yes, since just like utilities that we have to buy there is an equivalent for traffic offences which are unavoidable.

See also https://road.cc/content/forum/drivers-and-their-problems-296315

eg https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/welsh-roundabout-exit-cost...

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Muddy Ford replied to Hirsute | 4 months ago
6 likes

I've used the 'report a problem' on that government page, as it seems to be full of bullshit. 

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shoko replied to Hirsute | 4 months ago
2 likes

I had to double check, I honestly thought that was a parody page no

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