A local Conservative Party group in a North London borough has been criticised on social media for claiming that low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) encourage crime – with a number of Twitter users highlighting studies that demonstrate that they in fact cause a reduction in levels of anti-social behaviour.
Labour-run Haringey Council has rolled out three LTNs in the borough in recent months, in Bounds Green, Bruce Grove and, most recently, West Green. As with similar initiatives elsewhere, they are aimed at preventing rat-running drivers from using residential streets as a short cut, and thereby also making the area safer and more pleasant for people living there.
Introduced under the Haringey Streets for People initiative, the council has said that the LTNs were put in place following three rounds of engagement with the local community. It has also made exemptions available for a number of categories of people including Blue Badge holders.
But Tottenham Conservatives, which regularly uses its social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter to criticise the council’s support for LTNs, has claimed in a video posted to Twitter that “the Labour LTNs create dead zones.”
The video shows a woman filmed from behind walking down a poorly-lit residential street that, while captions appear on screen, to the sound of the siren of a police car.
And yet there's this from someone with real experience of an LTN, not just fanciful anecdoteshttps://t.co/RpsCvNcMA4
— Paul Baker (@maidbloke) November 13, 2022
“Streets with little or no footfall,” the first caption reads “Perfect for crime to flourish. Would you feel safe walking in a Dead Zone?”
The video, clearly aimed at conveying the idea that LTNs are unsafe at night, particularly for women on their own, ends with Tottenham Conservatives pledging to “scrap the Labour LTNs.”
But a number of people replying to the video have questioned where the data supporting that stance comes from – with one asking: “That goes against everything we know about the blight of community severance that traffic-heavy roads create. What are you basing your assertions on?”
Other tweets highlighted the experience of boroughs elsewhere in London where levels of crime went down after LTNs were put in there, while another linked a study on the subject.
That goes against everything we know about the blight of community severance that traffic-heavy roads create. What are you basing your assertions on?https://t.co/GPLFiNxrX8
— EricEatsPickles (@EricEatsPickles) November 13, 2022
In Ealing councillors observed that the amount of criminal activitity went down in LTNs but areas without LTNs didn't see similar reductions.
We referenced this on our website, although didn't conduct our own analysis.https://t.co/r5CaO3swPB
— Better Ealing Streets (@BetterEaling) November 13, 2022
Not only is this rubbish (crime in extensive Waltham Forest LTNs fell 18% in three years) but more LTNS are also Conservative Government policy with funding from the actual Department of Transport to produce more of them
— Ed Davie (@EdDavie) November 12, 2022
"LTNs create...a dead zone den of crime" 😶
Please provide a link to your supporting evidence.
In the mean time, here's a study that proved the opposite - LTNs reduce crime:https://t.co/ZOcmgu3H2O
— Tad Piesakowski #FBPE #alsoacyclist (@tadpies) November 12, 2022
And other Twitter users pointed out that the idea of restricting traffic in new housing schemes is has been standard planning procedure for several decades now.
I would go beyond that, I think most estates built in the last 50 years are LTNs. There are countless 70s estates that have filtered permeability in the form of paths linking cul de sacs.
— ado543 (@ado5433) November 12, 2022
The prospect of Tottenham Conservatives being in a position to scrap the LTNs is a distant one – currently, there is not a single Conservative member sitting on Haringey Council.
However, it does illustrate how LTNs, which were of course encouraged by Tory former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has often become politicised at local level through opposition to LTNs and other schemes aimed at encouraging active travel.
It’s not the first time the group has been criticised for its opposition to LTNs – in September, we reported how Tottenham Conservatives had posted images to social media comparing the effect on communities of LTNs to that of the apartheid that existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1980s.
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.