Letters: Low Traffic Neighbourhoods - the debate continues

Newham Council plans to bring in emissions-based parking charges. Picture: PA

People living and working on busy streets are more vulnerable to respiratory disease and premature death from traffic pollution - Credit: PA

Vulnerable hurt most by traffic pollution

K Fallon, Islington, full name and address supplied, writes:

We already know that our poorest people and ethnic minority groups suffer disproportionately from traffic congestion and air pollution.

Their young children and elderly are more likely to to suffer from stunted lungs, or be at increased risk of dementia, or from the many other ill-effects of breathing toxic air and being unable to enjoy a local environment now inundated by motor traffic and the noise and pollution that brings.  

New research also shows that poor and ethnic minority groups are more likely to be casualties on our dangerous roads. Deprivation doubles the risk of being struck by a motor vehicle while on foot.  

We also know that the risk of injury when struck by a motor car is far higher when that car is an SUV. The bonnets of these grotesquely proportioned vehicles often reach to above the head of a small child. Death or serious injury are almost certain for a child run over by the driver of such a vehicle, and this must surely be obvious to their owners.  

These disproportionately large motor cars are overwhelmingly owned and driven by the wealthier residents of our borough, are often purchased purely as a status symbol rather than for any practical reason, and are hugely destructive to our environment due to their oversized emissions and huge embedded carbon. Shockingly despite this, more than 40 per cent of London drivers are planning to choose such a vehicle for their next car, in the midst of a climate emergency.

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We now have a situation where wealthier members of our community are directly impacting the health and life chances of our most vulnerable groups by their transport choices. The rollout of People Friendly Streets in Islington, which surveys and recent local elections show are overwhelmingly popular, is a good first step to tackling this inequity and should be reinforced and accelerated.   

In addition, we need urgent action to redress the toll of ill-health, death, and injury being suffered by our most vulnerable residents, by disincentivising toxic transport choices. Let’s limit the size of on-street parking bays and increase parking charges for excessively large private cars to a level required to begin removing them from our streets, where they do not belong.

There is just too much traffic

Phil Buckle, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

Liverpool Road certainly does need controls (“Liverpool Road should be LTN” – Your opinions).

Unconnected with the writer of that letter, two of us went out on Tuesday, May 18 between 17:20 and 17:50, to count the vehicles heading north on Liverpool Road and Upper Street, just north of their junctions with Barnsbury Street. Results: excluding motorbikes, we counted 267 motor vehicles on Liverpool Road and 85 on Upper Street (+14 buses).

There were more than three times as many cars, vans, etc on residential Liverpool Road as there were on main road Upper Street. This is an important and disturbing finding. How did we find ourselves in this absurd situation: that the almost entirely residential Liverpool Road is taking more than three times the traffic as the A1? Certainly no one was consulted about it – we just let it happen. For more information about the state of our roads and what needs to be done, please visit LowTrafficIslington.org.

There is just too much traffic, and too much of it is on side streets, where most of us live. This is why we need Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. By making driving less convenient, LTNs reduce the overall traffic levels and ensure that the only vehicles on roads like Liverpool Road are the vehicles that have a valid reason to be there.

Traffic chaos will return with footy

Arsenal fans show their support near the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Arsenal fans on parade before lockdown - Credit: Getty Images

An Islington resident, full name and address supplied, writes

The LTNs are divisive. 

It is very clear that Islington council is keen to protect the environment of the gentrified area to the detriment of anybody having the misfortune of living near gridlocked Holloway Road; stationary cars with idling engines are heavy pollutants.  

No account has been made of the chaos which will ensue once the Arsenal football matches start to admit fans to the stadium. Residents of Caedmon and Jackson Road have been asking for traffic calming and restrictions since the stadium was shoe horned into an already over congested area, but no action has been taken to address this.  

The LTNs discriminate against poorer residents, the disabled, the elderly or anybody dependent upon service (usually deployed by car). Not everybody in the borough is a healthy, young cyclist or agile walker.  

The scheme is a mess and needs a serious rethink.

Lockdown traffic an unfair measure

People Friendly Streets in Islington are designed to improve the roads for pedestrians and cyclists

People Friendly Streets in Islington are designed to improve the roads for pedestrians and cyclists - Credit: Archant

Patricia Niclas, Grantbridge Street, Islington, writes:

I write further to your recent readers letter “Low traffic neighbourhood plans given election boost

The writer states “Thursday’s elections have proven that there is exceptionally strong democratic support for LTNs”. I beg to differ, the number of votes cast for Labour in all five wards totalled approx 11,500 votes, St Peter’s ward alone has 18,000 residents and so hardly a mandate.

Contrary to the statements made in that letter here are a few facts; surveys have confirmed that LTNs increase pollution on boundary roads where people also live, shop, school, walk and play and they are now seen by the council as collateral damage.PM2.5 particulates are localised, meaning they are now diverted to all boundary roads. This appears to be a war on pedestrians not cars. In a recent IPSOS MORI poll only 13 per cent of those polled rated pollution as an important issue (eighth in a list of 10 subjects). Islington already achieves 81pc active and sustainable travel with 69pc walking and cycling, above the mayor’s target of 80pc. 

There is no evidence of traffic evaporation. The St Peter’s trial report states an increase in traffic recorded as: 

  • New North Road - +32pc
  • Greenman Street - +90pc
  • Arlington Avenue - +85pc
  • Charlton Place - +83pc
  • Essex Road - +1pc

These figures were mostly obtained during lockdown and with no prior to implementation stats, in other words “guesstimated” and so will noticeably increase once lockdown fully opens.  

With regard to the climate emergency, Islington already plays its part and drives 20pc less than in London. We have only 26pc of households with car access, second lowest in the list of London boroughs. There are 16.6pc of journeys made in Islington by car. This includes taxis, mini cabs and delivery transport and so residents are not the problem here, and yet are being persecuted and thwarted when trying to make their essential journeys. No thought has been given to the disabled, vulnerable or those less able and no equality impact assessment has been made.

Islington has 60 bus routes, six London Underground lines, three London Overground lines and four National Rail lines running through it. Reducing the impact of those together with greening the council’s fleet would be a good start. 

Islington Council has earmarked £9 million from its budget (residents money) to implement further LTNs at a time when people have lost jobs, youth and knife crime is growing and Islington’s rate of child poverty (47pc) is well above the London average of 38pc.  

And now the Police Commissioner has stated that bollards in Islington prevented them pursuing several men with machetes, that subsequently got away. Fact! 

Councillors refuse to respond to residents issues and questions around LTNs, there is a wall of silence.  This is incredible as we pay their wages and elected them to represent us. 

Where is the justification for spending millions on these vanity projects when the borough is in such a dire position. If someone ran a private business in this manner it would fold within weeks. Only one word for it..... irresponsible. Islington Council should get their head out of the sand and deal with the real issues before things get worse or be held responsible for the consequences of these schemes! 

Is your journey necessary?

An Islington resident, name and address supplied, writes:

All these letter writers – the ones who insist they need to be able to drive their cars on short journeys through LTNs, because their journeys are essential and they could not possibly travel bike or on foot.

What do they think other people do? I’m talking about the two thirds of Islington residents who don’t have access to a car, who are just as likely to be disabled, and actually more likely to be old or deprived.

Do the letter writers think that everyone should have access to a car and that we should all drive wherever we want, even for short journeys? Can they see how impossible that is? Or does this privilege apply only to them? Yes, there are some people, not many, who really do need to use a car for even short journeys – and the way to make their journeys easier is for everyone else to get out of their cars.

So, to all the drivers who are not sending in angry letters, the sensible drivers who have just slipped into the habit of driving - please think about the journeys that you regularly drive: which of them could you walk, or cycle, or make at a less busy time of day? Every drive you don’t take will be appreciated by the people who really do have no choice but to drive, and by all the people using the streets on foot or on bike. They thank you.