Letters: Low Traffic Neighbourhoods - the debate continues

Highbury Fields, People Friendly Streets

People Friendly Streets in Highbury Fields - Credit: Simon Izod

Case for more LTNs in Islington has been strengthened 

Simon Izod N1, Low Traffic Barnsbury & St Mary’s, writes:

It’s nearly a year ago since the first of the People Friendly Streets schemes in St Peter’s was introduced. 

It’s worth reflecting on the rationale for bringing these in. As explained this time last year by the then council leader Richard Watts, as lockdown restrictions began to loosen and with understandable concerns of contracting Covid-19 when using public transport, people would instead choose to travel by car. The justifiable fear was that this behavioural shift would exacerbate an already existing pollution crisis during a pandemic in which the disease attacks the respiratory system of those infected.

People Friendly Streets were thus brought into to enable people to eschew their cars, allowing them to feel safe to walk and cycle, thereby reducing the volume of motorised traffic and consequent risks from pollution and road danger. It is clear from the monitoring data released by the council for Canonbury East and St Peter’s that this is working. It is also clear whilst I’ve been walking through Islington, the large number of people from all ages and walks of life enjoying our streets. It is worth noting that these schemes have worked where the council have been ambitious in the design, by using good design principles in the choice of boundary roads. The notable exception to the council’s outstanding work is the Amwell scheme. This scheme still hasn’t been fully implemented as the Margery Street filter is yet to be activated due to the road being a one way street. This could have been avoided if the council had followed the same excellent design principles they used for the other schemes and not made Amwell Street a boundary road.

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

Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes in Islington are designed to improve the roads for pedestrians and cyclists - Credit: Archant

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A year on and the case for bringing in more schemes urgently has only strengthened. According to the ONS, in the week ending May 2 2021, average daily traffic camera activity in London for cars increased by 118 per cent of their average levels in the week immediately prior to the March 2020 lockdown. 

Despite protestations from those who are not supportive of People Friendly Streets, the primary reason why we’ve seen an increase in congested roads is the significant number of people who choose to travel by car who could use alternative means. With the government still seeming eager to further relax restrictions and with the new delta variant being 40 per cent more transmissible than the variant it has largely replaced, the need to make our roads safer to walk and cycle has only increased.

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At the last Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny meeting, the council promised to introduce three schemes this year: St Mary’s Church, Caledonian and Barnsbury St Mary’s. Whilst recognising the superb work been done so far, I hope the council stand firm and ensure that these future schemes follow the same excellent design standards that have worked so well in St Peter’s, Highbury and Canonbury.

For more information about People Friendly Streets see barnsburystmarys2020.ghost.io

Driving with a spare armchair and settee

Low Traffic Islington group members designed a smart green heart logo

Low Traffic Islington group members designed a green heart logo - Credit: Low Traffic Islington

John Hartley, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

Cycling through Central London at the weekend, in particular the chaotic, congested, polluted streets of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (no LTNs there), made me realise (again) how crazy it is that people travel around with a spare armchair and settee – usually vacant.  

As a friend of mine said “an apartment that moves”. How much less congested, less dangerous and healthier the streets would be if those who can do so would choose a more appropriate form of transport. #Lowtrafficislington

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