Low traffic neighbourhoods 'nice in theory' but doubts remain – 'need to consult better'

Low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) are schemes where motor vehicle traffic in residential streets is greatly reduced. This is done by diverting traffic elsewhere, so vehicles don’t drive directly through the neighbourhood.

She said: “This research strongly reflects the value of citizen engagement for generating solutions to contested and complex policy issues.

“We hope the insights from this research will support consultation on, and implementation of, successful sustainable transport schemes in the UK in the years to come.”

Low traffic neighbourhoods can be found across the UK, with the main focus of NatCen’s project being in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth and the Lozells district of Birmingham.

LTNs may become more common in the future as changes to the Highway Code are set to be launched next year.

The reforms will create a “hierarchy of road users” and will give priority to cyclists and pedestrians at crossings in the hopes of making travel safer for everyone.

Helena Bennett, Senior Policy Adviser at Green Alliance, was also involved in the project and praised the research.

She commented: “LTNs could play an important role in helping people rely less on cars, which in turn will help cut emissions, so we really welcome the insights and recommendations of this report.

“In particular, we’re pleased the report considers the priorities of different demographics; this is key to ensuring LTNs are appropriate and work for everyone.

“It’s also encouraging that the deliberation process increased awareness of the environmental case for LTNs, even amongst people who don’t fully support their implementation.”

Through the project, it found that around half of residents said they had changed their views on LTNs as a result of taking part, while around half (32 out of 63 respondents) said they had not.

One resident from Lambeth said: “It’s nice in theory but in reality, we don’t have all the other measures to go with it that would actually improve how we’re going to get somewhere.”

A resident from Lowzells commented: “I still believe fundamentally LTNs are a good idea, just the council needed to consult the residents and wider community better.”

Among those who changed their views, around 50 percent supported LTNs to a greater extent, while around a third were more opposed than when they began deliberations.

Some of the main reasons for their support was that the residents felt better informed around their introduction, as well as being more aware of the environmental, health and safety benefits.

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