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Wandsworth Council suspends Low Traffic Neighbourhood – blames the Mayor’s Streetspace works on nearby A24

Wandsworth Conservatives launch petition against A24 improvements

Wandsworth Council has ‘suspended’ its Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) scheme with the planters blocking roads to motor vehicles due to be removed from today. The Conservative-led council cited ‘emergency access’ and ‘traffic flow’ by way of explanation, claiming that improvements being made to the nearby A24 as part of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Streetspace for London programme have compounded these issues.

A number of local authorities are currently using emergency active travel funding from the government to roll out LTNs, which block rat-running drivers, reducing pollution and making roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Many have however been met with resistance by a vocal minority and some have even been vandalised.

After Wandsworth Council obtained funding from Transport for London (TfL) for LTNs, trials were introduced last month.

The schemes – which are the council’s own – have not proven universally popular.

Explaining the measures last month, transport spokesman John Locker said: “We believe the changes we are piloting could lead to a dramatic improvement in the quality of life of residents in these three pilot areas.

“Much of the traffic using these streets is simply passing through or trying to avoid hold-ups on the A24. By deterring these rat runners and making these areas quieter and safer we hope to inspire people to take up other forms of travel like walking and cycling.

“But nothing is set in stone. These are temporary pilot schemes only so it’s important that we monitor the effects carefully and listen closely to what local people tell us about their pros and cons. Their feedback will be crucial in determining what happens next.”

A council statement yesterday announced that, “an initial review of the trials has identified concerns with emergency access and traffic flows. And this has been compounded by additional changes that Transport for London (TfL) is making to red route roads in the borough.

“These include significant interventions on the A24 (Balham High Road to Tooting High Street and beyond) including moving bus stops, installing cycle lane segregation, banning turns at a number of junctions and removing parking.

“The scale of these A24 changes coinciding with the council’s efforts to establish LTNs on residential streets has caused confusion and long traffic queues.

“Additionally, concerns around rising COVID rates and reduced capacity on public transport has meant that alternative travel options are limited for many people at this time.

“In light of these initial trial findings the council has decided to suspend the LTN trials.”

At a national level, the government has pledged to help local authorities build “thousands of miles of new protected bike lanes,” financed by £2bn of active travel spending announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak back in February and subsequently reconfirmed in May by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

However, a statement on the Wandsworth Conservatives’ website makes it clear there is often minimal appetite for such measures at a local level.

“The adverse effects of the LTNs are now clear,” it reads. “These LTNs are not wanted.”

The opposition to the A24 Streetspace for London work is also more explicit with a spokesperson claiming that ‘disruptive’ changes are “causing gridlock in Tooting and delaying emergency vehicles.”

The party has even launched a petition asking for the improvements to be reversed.

“Sadiq Khan's disruptive A24 changes are causing misery for residents creating gridlock, delaying emergency vehicles and causing unnecessary pollution,” it reads. “It's only a matter of time before disaster strikes.”

Earlier this month, more than 100 organisations signed an open letter in support of LTNs.

Alice Ridley, from the Campaign for Better Transport, commented: “Councils should not allow a vocal minority to stop them from improving local transport and protecting their residents.

“The misery of air pollution and rat-running on residential streets needs to become a thing of the past.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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TheBillder | 3 years ago

So Wandsworth Council now say that rising levels of covid 19 infection and the consequent need for more non-public modes of transport mean that they need to remove the LTNs.

These are the same LTNs that they were granted money to put in because of the rising levels of covid 19 and consequent...

There's a saying that we get the politicians we deserve. Personally I'm going to have to take a good look at myself and try to become deserving of something better.

alan sherman | 3 years ago

Good. The West Putney one made cycling and walking more dangerous! Badly implemented moving of rat runs to smaller roads.

markieteeee replied to alan sherman | 3 years ago

Alternatively: bad.  Most have made cycling and walking much safer.  A reluctant conservative council implementing a policy under the initiative of a conservative government against their own natural tendencies, decide to blame Sadiq Khan when they decide to scrap it.

alan sherman replied to markieteeee | 3 years ago

But there is the rub - it can be like badly designed cycle lanes which are a waste of time and money, and have a negative effect on cycling. 

The West Putney one wasn't blamed on TFL.  It was a bad idea!  The moment I saw the road they were closing it was obvious it would impact the next road along which is used by lots of cyclists.  I hope there is a holding to account over the design and approval of the rubbish ones.  There are many ways that the funding could have been used to make things better.  Now I'm left wondering if it was a cynical ply to "do something" that would fail as an excuse to stick with the status quo.


As an aside I tried the proposed quietway from Putney Heath to Wandsworth the other day.  It seemd a really long way round and over a hill, so not a good design either.

markieteeee replied to alan sherman | 3 years ago
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I haven't experienced the West Putney measures, so will take your word on how bad they were, but my point stands that Wandsworth have blamed other scheme failures on TfL, as seen in the article above. There could be something in the cynical designed to fail theory - it's noticeable that the boroughs and councils who have always been against reducing motor traffic are the ones where the temporary LTNs are deemed to have 'failed'.  And noticeably they are predominantly conservative councils, as were the five boroughs who took only half of the available funds from the DfT to implement them. Wandsworth and Kensington & Chelsea stand out in their seeming desire to make them fail but it's a similar pattern in the other reluctant boroughs. However, on the brightside, there are many boroughs who have done quite well and as the consultation is live and ongoing, they can tweak the areas where they haven't. It's why it's so important for residents to comment on their local infrastructure especially knowing that the people who oppose LTNs are certainly commenting on your neighbourhood whether they live there or not.  

maviczap | 3 years ago

No will power to say no to driverists, crap excuses too, all would have been taken into account before installation of the planters

David9694 replied to maviczap | 3 years ago

"Weak at the knees" I think is the phrase. Fast forward 5 years: ever more, larger cars, buses still out of fashion (e.g. unreliable), cycling only for fanatics and die-hards, walking fumey and unpleasant.  Where then?

Awavey replied to David9694 | 3 years ago

I thought I picked up a stat yesterday, though I cant find the source now, there are something like 40million registered vehicles in the UK now, which is a doubling in about only 20-25 years, so on the current track per head of population in the UK the R factor of vehicle per person, will be above 1 within the next 10-15 years.

David9694 replied to Awavey | 3 years ago

Pavements, parks, forests - all coming under pressure as the roads themselves gradually silt up. 

everyone knows better than the councils: "This silly road closure hasn't been thought through" and what, pray, has been "thought through" about the past 50 years?

"where will all the traffic go?" - more traffic is inevitable, unstoppable. Driving less seems to be on no-one's radar.  

In terms of popular attitudes, At what point does it become anti-social to run a Discovery or other so-called SUV,  or unless you really do live up a Cart track, a Range Rover? At what point does it does it become plain silly to drive a car two miles in town?

markieteeee replied to David9694 | 3 years ago

Also, at what point during a respiratory pandemic shall we decide that cleaner air and healthier lungs are better for people than the option of some people shaving a few seconds off their journey (or not shaving any time off their journey but preferring to sit in their status vehicle for their journeys)


hawkinspeter replied to markieteeee | 3 years ago
markieteeee wrote:

Also, at what point during a respiratory pandemic shall we decide that cleaner air and healthier lungs are better for people than the option of some people shaving a few seconds off their journey (or not shaving any time off their journey but preferring to sit in their status vehicle for their journeys)

There's also a fair bit evidence that Covid has bad outcomes for people with cardiovascular issues, so it should be a priority to get more people taking more exercise and I think that active travel is one of the easiest ways to incorporate more exercise.

ktache | 3 years ago

Ah well, getting everywhere, even the most insignificant distance, by motor vehicle wins.

So much for pleasent streets for people to live on.

I wonder what those stuck in congestion will now blame.

It's definitely got nothing to do with them.

I think all cul-de-sacs should be opened up to through traffic too, why should they have liveable streets.

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