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Firefighters delayed by Low Traffic Neighbourhood... because vandalised bollard wouldn't unlock

The simple mechanism which allows emergency services to remove the bollard using a key was damaged by vandals

Finally proof of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood delaying emergency services from attending an urgent call-out, but not really because the bollard —  designed to be easily removed using a key in such instances — was damaged by vandals.

Despite the London Fire Brigade last year confirming it had not seen any impact on response times as a result of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) being rolled out, it is one of the most frequently heard arguments from critics and inevitably pops up every time a council proposes bringing the low traffic schemes to their area.

In Oxford this week, however, it was not an LTN, but instead the handy work of vandals, which delayed firefighters from attending an incident.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service had to cut out a bollard in Clive Road on Tuesday after they were unable to use the key-activated mechanism which easily removes the obstacle in an emergency.

The BBC reported that Oxfordshire County Council said the vandalism had "affected the mechanism which would allow it to normally be removed using a key" before adding the startling news that "costs for damage to bollards and planters has now topped £12,000 since the measures were launched on 20 May."

A consultation on the schemes is running until November and the cut-out bollard will be replaced, but vandalism is overshadowing the roll-out of the project.

Bollards in east Oxford were removed and planters vandalised less than 24 hours after a six-month trial was launched last month.

A couple of weeks later, in the face of repeated vandalism, 'human bollards' including Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew Gant stepped in to replace a bollard which had been vandalised "six or seven times".

> Low Traffic Neighbourhood 'human bollards' step in following repeated vandalism

One of the 'human bollards' said they were "pleased" they had "reminded drivers that it is illegal to pass through whether there is a bollard or not" and did "the job that Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police should have done".

What does the evidence say?

Last September, Cycling UK said the "clear evidence" does not support the often-pedalled claim that LTNs delay emergency services' response times and compared the line to "flat earther" views.

Following a Freedom of Information request from the same charity, not one of ten ambulance trusts operating in England, Scotland and Wales said they were against new cycling and walking facilities, with a third expressing strong support because of their public health and road safety benefits.

> London Fire Brigade says low traffic neighbourhoods have had no impact on response times

In the same year, the London Fire Brigade said: "We haven't yet noticed any impact on our attendance times due to the LTN schemes established in 2020; however, we will continue to monitor their impact at a local level."

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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ktache | 1 year ago

I thought that the anti-LTN lot were most concerned about the speed of emergency services.

Sriracha replied to ktache | 1 year ago

Logic would say that an emergency vehicle is going to make quicker progress along a street with next to no traffic than one jammed solid. So whatever gave you the impression that anti-LTNs were concerned with the speed of emergency services... 🙄

ktache replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago

It was that and their concern for the less than abled...

Absolutely nothing to do with rat running...

quiff | 1 year ago
1 like


Yours, a Ped-ant

swldxer replied to quiff | 1 year ago


brooksby | 1 year ago


costs for damage to bollards and planters has now topped £12,000 since the measures were launched on 20 May

Wow. But of course the vandals doing this are still utterly convinced that they are in the right... 

Joeinpoole replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
1 like

I think it's quite likely that they feel these LTN barriers have been installed without appropriate local consultation, research or inclusion in local partys' manifesto.

That's certainly the case where I live where at least two LTN blockages have thankfully been removed after uproar from local road users. By stopping motorists from driving down one road they then had to drive down 3 other roads (doubling the original traffic on those roads) to get to the same destination. This caused them to travel 3x as far and significantly increased pollution and congestion on the alternate route.


chrisonabike replied to Joeinpoole | 1 year ago

"Feel" / "had to".

I've seen councils foist poorly-thought out stuff on their locales fairly regularly.

I've seen some pretty poor "consultation" efforts and doing things by fiat happens too.  But often there has been some kind.  And - albeit it often sounds like hot air - almost all parties / candidates now have some sop to "climate change" / "active transport" in their bumf.

However ... for a noisy minority of the complainants consultation isn't really the issue.  Their problem is "change".  And it will be a change to some people's routines.  But for them it's a "no way, no how".  It's never a good time, never the right place.

Yet somehow we do need to change.  (Many of the complainants will agree that).  We do need fewer vehicles / car journeys.

In a crude analysis it ain't the children, pedestrians, cyclists, old folks on mobility scooters etc. causing the congestion and local pollution now is it (fallacy links)?  And "traffic evaporation" is a thing.  Finally people living in places with less through traffic (avoid trigger acronym) overwhelmingly approve.  Once they've had time to get used to the change.

If only said authorities would help them with (locally) (even more) support for active travel and prodding the public transport companies.  Yes - current poor bus services - but some of the problems (e.g. peak times) could be that the roads are full of ...

David9694 replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
1 like

There was a nationwide consultation about decades of car dominance sometime in the early 1960s, I remember my grandmother telling me about it. 

Every household, she said, received a government pamphlet setting out the options and scenarios and was asked to write in with their views.

Gran sounded a bit hazy about about what happened after that, and whether there ever was an announcement about it.  She did say was around then that every new housing area started being designed to control cars. 

Anyway folks, that now forgotten consultation is why there must be painstaking consultation and engagement every time areas like East Oxford are updated : to ensure that not a hair on a driver's head is touched.  

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