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Government backs Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and cycleways in reply to petition calling for withdrawal of funding

“The majority of people support giving more road space to cycling and walking in their local area,” says DfT

The government has rejected a petition calling on funding for schemes aimed at reducing motor traffic, including Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), to be withdrawn, with the Department for Transport (DfT) saying in its response that most local residents want to see more road space given to people cycling or walking.

The petition has been published on the Parliament.uk website, meaning that the government was obliged to give a response once it reached 10,000 signatures.

Initiated by London resident David Tarsh earlier this month, it has so far attracted a little over 23,000 signatures. Should it reach 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee, though there is no guarantee that one will actually happen.

The introduction to the petition reads: “Road closures, ‘school streets’ and new cycle lanes are creating severe congestion, long traffic delays and severe frustration across the country. Although well intentioned, the experiment has failed. Government guidance supporting such measures, and funds for them, should be withdrawn immediately.

“Many councils have introduced schemes touted as encouraging walking and cycling, but their real impact is gridlock. They've been built without proper consultation, illegitimately justified by the Covid crisis and backed by central government direction and finance.

“Congestion and pollution have increased, people are inconvenienced, local businesses have lost trade and lives jeopardised with emergency vehicles stuck in traffic. Cycle tracks are often empty, while the roads alongside are jammed.”

A number of the points raised are typical of those often made against schemes designed to promote cycling and active travel generally.

Cycle lanes do often appear empty, but that’s because they are efficient at moving people around, for example.

With private motor car use now higher than it was pre-lockdown, increased congestion is an inevitable result.

Consultation is happening, often while temporary schemes are in place allowing them to be fine-tuned, and the emergency services are involved in the planning process.

LTNs have been around for decades but in recent months they have been increasingly employed by councils across England using emergency funding from the DfT to encourage active travel during the coronavirus crisis.

In London in particular, however, such schemes have met with vociferous opposition from a minority of people, with planters used to block off roads moved and even vandalised.

In its reply, the Department for Transport said that “the government is committed to delivering a step change in levels of active travel.

“We know the majority of people support giving more road space to cycling and walking in their local area.

“Local authorities have a duty to manage their roads for the benefit of all traffic, including cyclists and pedestrians. The more people that cycle and walk, the more road space is freed up for those who really need to drive. Encouraging more cycling and walking is a key part of the Government’s efforts to reduce harmful emissions from transport, as well as to help make people healthier.”

It said that LTNs “deliver a wide range of benefits – a safer and more pleasant environment for residents, more walking and cycling and better air quality,” and that school streets “can reduce the number of people driving their children to school by up to a third.

“There are often concerns that reallocating road space will have a negative impact on business,” the DfT’s response continued.

“However, evidence shows that people who walk and cycle take more trips to the high street over the course of a month than people who drive.

“Making access to high streets easier by walking and cycling has a proven economic benefit. Well planned improvements in the walking environment can deliver up to a 40 per cent increase in shopping footfall and high street walking, cycling and public realm improvements can increase retail sales by up to 30 per cent.

“Evidence also shows that investment in cycling and walking is supported by the majority of people in local communities.

“Although some schemes have attracted negative attention, this is still only a small minority of the people living in those areas.”

It added: “Different types of intervention will be appropriate in different places. For example, what works in urban areas may not be suitable in rural areas or smaller towns, where people are more reliant on private vehicles.

“Schemes must balance the needs of cyclists and pedestrians with the needs of other road users, including motorists and local businesses.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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27 comments

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OldRidgeback | 3 years ago
0 likes

This is quite balanced:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/nov/01/car-free-neighbourh...

Valid points:

"Hill also thinks that the typical demographic of the London cyclist has become a factor. According to TfL’s Cycling Trends Update of July 2019, only 27% of cycle trips are made by women and more than 85% of the city’s cyclists are white. A high proportion – often more than 20% or 30% – are from households with a yearly income of over £75,000. Some of those opposed to LTNs clearly feel that the schemes encourage gentrification by stealth. “For some people in some of those areas,” says Hill, “the whole cycling, clean air, low-traffic neighbourhood agenda is another example of their neighbourhood changing in ways they don’t like and don’t have any control over.”

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markieteeee replied to OldRidgeback | 3 years ago
0 likes

Balanced in what way?  It completely overstates the opposition to LTNs which are supported by the vast majority.  

You label your quote as having 'valid points'. What are they? 

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wycombewheeler | 3 years ago
8 likes

“Congestion and pollution have increased, people are inconvenienced, local businesses have lost trade and lives jeopardised with emergency vehicles stuck in traffic. Cycle tracks are often empty, while the roads alongside are jammed.”

Seems like a very strong argyment for creating more cycle tracks so that everyone can go about their business in safety free from congestion and emergency services are not hampered by a long line of single people in two ton metal boxes, because they don't feel safe to use a bicycle on city streets.

It's quite clear that cyclists do not cause congestion as the lanes available to them flow freely at all times, while the lanes for motor vehicles are always blocked, no matter how many there are. You cannot provide enough space for cars, no matter how much there is more will be needed. The only thing that limits car journeys is congestion, increase capacity and journeys will increase until the point where congestion makes the undesirable again.

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miekwidnes | 3 years ago
1 like

LTNs are a really dumb idea - unless they are part of a proper plan involving the whole traffic situation in the area

Otherwise we just get  a council grabbing a load of money and then wondering how they can do something quickly

We had a 'pop-up cycle lane' here - the sign said something like "road layout changes for social distancing" - I road past it many times and never realised it was supposed to be a cycle lane - great design and thought

It has gone now

 

So - LTNs are fine

 

but thinking and planning is more important

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Captain Badger replied to miekwidnes | 3 years ago
4 likes
miekwidnes wrote:

....but thinking and planning is more important

They've had decades to plan them. Just get them in.

There is no way that they will go in without inconveniencing someone - eg the people who are using residential streets as rat runs - and largely residents are supportive.

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markieteeee replied to Captain Badger | 3 years ago
2 likes

This is a good point, but while many councils declared a climate emergency and/or commited to LTNs a while ago, others didn't bother.  I suspect the more successful ones are in the areas where the councils already had the plans and fast-tracked the implementation. 

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Jenova20 | 3 years ago
14 likes

Cycle tracks are often empty, while the roads alongside are jammed.”

Is this dope seriously complaining that he's stuck in traffic, which he is contributing to, while an empty lane sits next to him, which he can't be bothered to try using? Sheer lunacy.

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NPlus1Bikelights replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
2 likes

*Cycle tracks don't have congestion.

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eburtthebike | 3 years ago
10 likes

It's more than slightly frightening that, after forty years of placating cycle campaigners with slippery words and no funding, the DfT has so radically changed its tune.  I'd love to say that I wholeheartedly applaud and support this, but experience makes me wary.

When they've announced that the £28bn roads plan has been scrapped and the money allocated to cycling and walking, I might just believe them.

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Philh68 replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
2 likes

DfT is the public service, and as we all know public service is an inaccurate description. Their job is not to provide a service to the public but to implement the policies of the government of the day. The shock is that Conservatives have found a new hymnal to sing from, and having taken (for them) a bold step are showing signs of having a bit of backbone (for now).

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Jenova20 replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
5 likes
eburtthebike wrote:

It's more than slightly frightening that, after forty years of placating cycle campaigners with slippery words and no funding, the DfT has so radically changed its tune.  I'd love to say that I wholeheartedly applaud and support this, but experience makes me wary.

When they've announced that the £28bn roads plan has been scrapped and the money allocated to cycling and walking, I might just believe them.

 

That really would be something. £28 billion would get us a decent amount of cycling infrastructure...And an equal amount of rage from motorists (Not that that takes much).

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David9694 replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
5 likes

£28 Bn on cycle infra - I imagine a motorist rage bell curve.

segregated paths and lanes everywhere, some more old rail routes opened up as greenways, every express train with half a carriage of guard's van, the ground floor of every multi-storey an attended secure bike park.

Massive off-set in the longer term when the health benefits start to roll in. 

altogether now, "you-hoo, you may say I'm a dreamer/ But I'm not the only one"

 

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OldRidgeback replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
2 likes

My street is now in an LTN zone. Has it made cycling better? Actually, no it hasn't. The idiots who live around the area who drive too fast still do so. It hasn't made cycling safer because it hasn't slowed anyone down. Nor does it go anywhere, so it doesn't actually deliver a cycling route.

All it has done effectively is jam up the busy junction drivers are allowed to use and make it more congested and dangerous than it was before, and it was bad then. I cycle through that junction regularly and it wasn't great at all before and is far worse for cyclists and pedestrians trying to cross the road due to the back up traffic and cars trying to cut the corner and make u-turns.

As for pollution, it's not reduced that either. instead it's helped make the busy road two streets away more congested and more polluted.

Installing proper speed bumps would've controlled vehicle speed more effectively. Bear in mind that over 50% of serious crashes in London have excessive speed as a primary factor. Control vehicle speed and make drivers stick to the 20mph limits by using physical measures you have a safer road environment that'll encourage more people to cycle in a way that the LTNs aren't doing.

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OnYerBike replied to OldRidgeback | 3 years ago
1 like

You have a good point - if we want to encourage cycling, we need to make it fast and easy for people to cycle from A to B. What's the easiest and fastest way from A to B? The main road between them. That's why we need proper cycling infrastructure on main roads, following the routes people actually want to travel. LTNs assume cyclists are happy to be relegated to plotting tortuously complicated routes through residential streets.

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mdavidford replied to OnYerBike | 3 years ago
4 likes

Part of the point to the LTNs is that drivers have been using these roads as rat runs because they're more direct. Converting them to LTNs (done properly) forces motor vehicles to take the long way around, while pedestrians, cyclists, etc. can choose more direct routes.

Of course, that doesn't mean that decent walking/cycling infrastructure shouldn't also be provided on main roads, to make them a viable option where they represent the most direct route, but it's not an either/or choice.

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eburtthebike replied to OldRidgeback | 3 years ago
4 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

My street is now in an LTN zone. Has it made cycling better? Actually, no it hasn't. The idiots who live around the area who drive too fast still do so. It hasn't made cycling safer because it hasn't slowed anyone down. Nor does it go anywhere, so it doesn't actually deliver a cycling route.

All it has done effectively is jam up the busy junction drivers are allowed to use and make it more congested and dangerous than it was before, and it was bad then. I cycle through that junction regularly and it wasn't great at all before and is far worse for cyclists and pedestrians trying to cross the road due to the back up traffic and cars trying to cut the corner and make u-turns.

As for pollution, it's not reduced that either. instead it's helped make the busy road two streets away more congested and more polluted.

Installing proper speed bumps would've controlled vehicle speed more effectively. Bear in mind that over 50% of serious crashes in London have excessive speed as a primary factor. Control vehicle speed and make drivers stick to the 20mph limits by using physical measures you have a safer road environment that'll encourage more people to cycle in a way that the LTNs aren't doing.

Look, we're all quite green on here, and we love cycling and recycling, but you've posted essentially the same thing what seems like a dozen times already.  There's a limit to how many times something can be recycled before it just doesn't work any more.

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OldRidgeback replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
1 like
eburtthebike wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

My street is now in an LTN zone. Has it made cycling better? Actually, no it hasn't. The idiots who live around the area who drive too fast still do so. It hasn't made cycling safer because it hasn't slowed anyone down. Nor does it go anywhere, so it doesn't actually deliver a cycling route.

All it has done effectively is jam up the busy junction drivers are allowed to use and make it more congested and dangerous than it was before, and it was bad then. I cycle through that junction regularly and it wasn't great at all before and is far worse for cyclists and pedestrians trying to cross the road due to the back up traffic and cars trying to cut the corner and make u-turns.

As for pollution, it's not reduced that either. instead it's helped make the busy road two streets away more congested and more polluted.

Installing proper speed bumps would've controlled vehicle speed more effectively. Bear in mind that over 50% of serious crashes in London have excessive speed as a primary factor. Control vehicle speed and make drivers stick to the 20mph limits by using physical measures you have a safer road environment that'll encourage more people to cycle in a way that the LTNs aren't doing.

Look, we're all quite green on here, and we love cycling and recycling, but you've posted essentially the same thing what seems like a dozen times already.  There's a limit to how many times something can be recycled before it just doesn't work any more.

It's the first time I've posted this type of comment on this thread. I keep making the point against LTNs because I think a lot of people seem to favour them, without actually having experience of them.

I thought they were a good idea in principle until I started seeing how they were being introduced. Now I think they're poorly planned and no more use to cyclists than painted lines in the gutter alongside parked cars so you're at risk of being doored if you use them. 

Proper cycling infrastructure is great, if it's planned and designed correctly. But the LTNs aren't that. There's one LTN in my area that works, the rest simply don't.

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Awavey replied to OldRidgeback | 3 years ago
4 likes

But does it work or not work because it's an LTN or because of the behaviour of drivers when faced with a LTN ? The risk is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. So I wouldnt be against an LTN in principle just because road congestion occurs at other points,whilst acknowledging the risk is not joined up thinking in their placement.

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Mattleng1 replied to Awavey | 3 years ago
4 likes

Completely agree. I often wonder whether people just don't like LTNs or they don't like the process that was taken to implement them at pace earlier this year.

The LTNs round our way (Brixton) have calmed down the rat runs beyond recognition and shunted the traffic onto the main road (where it should be). It has increased traffic and congestion, yes. But against a backdrop of reduced usage of public transport from A to B.

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markieteeee replied to Mattleng1 | 3 years ago
2 likes

It makes you wonder if the reaction would have been different if people were still using the buses and tubes. I tend to think that the people who don't like them use the process of implementation as an excuse.

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HarrogateSpa replied to OldRidgeback | 3 years ago
6 likes

I don't have an LTN. I live on a long, straight street, with cars parked both sides - leaving in effect just one traffic lane.

Several times over the years I have been subject to drivers coming up behind me and losing their minds because there is no way past. They try to bully me out of the way, and abuse me when I don't doff my cap and pull over. I reported the last one to the police.

Bollards to cut out through traffic WOULD solve this situation and make the street much more pleasant. That's why I don't agree with your 'LTNs don't work' argument that I've read several times.

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OldRidgeback replied to HarrogateSpa | 3 years ago
0 likes

If your street had proper traffic calming measures then the drivers wouldn't come close behind you and try to bully you out of the way bcause they'd be going at the same speed as you so as not to wreck their vehicle on the speed bumps or chicanes. My street is long and narrow too. The LTN hasn't stopped crap drivers from behaving like arses. Traffic calming would.

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David9694 replied to HarrogateSpa | 3 years ago
0 likes

A cap? a cap? now I realise this is Yorkshire we're talking about, but you should have been wearing a helmet.  Perhaps that's what the driver whom you called the police on was pointing out. You probably haven't got insurance or hi viz either, have you?

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markieteeee replied to OldRidgeback | 3 years ago
3 likes

As others have noticed, you said almost exactly the same before. I live on an LTN and it's dramatically reduced speeding rat-runners and cars winding around scoping out parking spaces where they might not get a ticket.  It's definitely increased walking and cycling in the area. I pass through 4 and a park on my route to work, and see the increase in cyclists and pedestrians compared to this time last year.  Of course there have been some badly implemented ones (mostly, suspiciously, in tory-led councils) but throwing them all out due to this would be retrogressive. If yours is a poor one, then I assume you have ongoing live consultation and you can comment accordingly. An LTN does not negate the need for better cycling infrastructure on main roads but it certainly means local journeys are safe, cleaner and less polluted.

I would say that you have it the wrong way round: I think a lot of people seem to be against them, without actually having experience* of them.

* I mean living in one, rather than the experience of losing your short-cut between main roads via a residential area

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Shake replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
1 like

Hahahaha

Besides, I think it was actually Gove that said councils should look to remove speed bumps and replace them with something else as they cause more pollution from people breaking and then accelerating whole hardly reducing people's speed

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HarrogateSpa replied to OldRidgeback | 3 years ago
3 likes

All that's an argument for more LTNs and cycle infra, not less. I'm really surprised at your way of thinking, & I don't believe there's much logic in it.

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OldRidgeback replied to HarrogateSpa | 3 years ago
0 likes

Nope, it's an argument for proper cycling infrastructure, which LTNs in S London mostly aren't. The majority of them contribute nothing to improving cycling safety or improving cycling routes. And they don't stop idiot drivers from going too fast.

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