Reader letters: Islington's Low Traffic Neighbourhoods - for and against

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

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are a major topic of debate in Islington - Credit: Archant

Islington Gazette readers letters have expressed their views both for and against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). 

Low traffic neighbourhood plans given election boost

An Islington resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

There has been much debate within the community as to the local support for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). 

Thursday’s elections have delivered a clear answer across Islington and Hackney. The campaigners who sought to turn the Islington and Hackney by-elections into referenda on LTNs have proven that there is exceptionally strong democratic support for LTNs. The most prominent anti-LTN campaigners who stood for election have not won their by-elections and have finished at, or close to, the bottom of the electoral standings. 

Sadiq Khan has also been re-elected, along with a huge vote for the greens, a London wide mandate for LTNs.

With this clear democratic mandate I hope that London Borough of Islington expedites bringing in the LTNs in the most afflicted areas (eg Liverpool Road, Theberton Street and Offord Road in Barnsbury, etc). 

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LTNs reduce the risks of air pollution, increase active travel, make our living environment more pleasant and help us combat the climate emergency - and now there’s also a clear democratic mandate in Islington and across London. The residents of Islington want the council to bring in LTNs - time to speed it up.

As Jon Burke said, we’ve had “the LTN referendum...Time to deliver more.”

LTN roll-out has not been fair

Tom Bell, name and address supplied. writes:

I have been reading your readers’ letters with great interest over the last year.

Whilst I am a firm believer in the climate crisis and the need for society to radically change the way we live our lives, in order to get anywhere close the Paris Agreement, I have to say that I am shocked at the way Islington, Hackney and Camden Councils’ have gone about the introduction of the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and enhanced cycle routes in the last year. 

There has been lack of consultation with local residents. Those of us who are carers, and need to use our vehicles to undertake essential tasks, have been sidelined. We now have to spend hours in traffic jams a week - on Islington’s main arterial roads - on journeys that would have taken mere minutes in the recent past. 

I can’t help but notice that the LTNs have been instituted in the wealthier parts of the boroughs and have created gridlock on our main thoroughfares. 

Are we to understand from these plans that the council believes that those of us who live on or just off the main arterial routes are second class citizens compared to those in the LTNs? 

It certainly feels like it and I shudder to think what effect the increase in fumes from stationary traffic will have on us over the medium to long term. As an ashtmatic I am already experiencing an impact from the increased intensity of pollution and I know it will get worse as lockdown eases further.

I’d also like to highlight the increased danger that some of the new cycle lanes have created - like on Liverpool Road - where cars now need to dodge one another and regularly come close to knocking cyclists off as they try to turn left or right. 

No driver wants to cause a cyclist injury but these crazy new road layouts make this very likely indeed. 

Low traffic areas benefit our health

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

John A Hartley, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

Bearing in mind that Islington is the most densely populated borough in England and that we have the lowest ratio of open space to built-up areas of any London borough, it seems to me that Low Traffic Neighbourhoods offer us all an opportunity to enjoy cleaner air, less noise and more open space, just as residents of other boroughs enjoy their parks. 

This is especially important for residents who live in cramped conditions or in flats or in shared houses with no gardens, as it gives them the opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation, exercise and the pleasures of nature, possibly quite literally outside their front door.  

It is well established that communing with nature is good for mental health and the more LTNs we have, the more our residents can protect their mental as well as physical well-being.  To find out more, visit LowTrafficIslington.org.

Smarter approach to LTNs needed

A Jacobs, Haringey, Hackney, writes:

I work in Islington, I don’t drive and rely on public transport to get around London.

In the last few days moving around in Islington has been extremely difficult. 

On Thursday 6, there was so much traffic that buses were terminating their route early at Angel. 

Passengers had to get off and wait for the next bus thus numbers of people accumulated because there were not enough buses and the vehicles had reduced passenger capacity due to Covid. 

If you walked down Upper Street or Essex Road, the traffic jams were so large, it looked as if the respective roads and side streets had become one giant car-park. 
If you got a bus from Angel to Highbury Islington, the journey time normally takes around seven minutes, now it could be nearer 30.

As many buses were stuck on one side of the road. 

Buses coming the other way were reduced and the electronic information boards on bus arrivals became inaccurate. 

The whole thing is an ill thought  out mess. I understand that the council wishes to encourage people to walk or cycle but it may not be possible or practical for everyone.

The reasons why car use has increased is due to Covid. At the beginning of the last lockdown, people travelling were either encouraged to walk, cycle or drive rather than use public transport. 

Furthermore, as we come out of lockdown, buses have not yet increased passenger capacity.

Cycles and their parts are easy to steal, so even if you can cycle, the problem remains where to leave it once you’ve finished your journey.

If the council wants LTNs, it would be best to stagger the process to see what works and what doesn’t while considering the following:

  • Lockdown eases, more people will use transport such as buses for work, shopping and leisure. 
  • Start with putting LTNs on fewer roads and create secure cycle racks.
  • Wait until the buses return to full capacity.
  • It’s cold, as it gets warmer, people will be more inclined to get back into the habit of walking and use their car less. 
  • Less car usage should happen as more people are vaccinated and we get back to normal.

We must break habit of driving

An Islington resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

A recent leaflet from those unhappy about LTNs reassuringly said that traffic on side roads contributed “only” 5.9 per cent of Islington’s total carbon emissions (quoting the Draft Islington Transport Strategy 2019).

That same report shows transport-related carbon emissions alone totalled 100,200 tonnes in Islington (equivalent to 7,000 Routemaster buses). 

In this borough, 67 deaths (7pc of all deaths) in a single year were attributed to high levels of air pollution. 

Should the rest of us really accept ill-health to stop drivers being inconvenienced, or might it be better if they changed their driving habits so that those who need to drive can do so?

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