Cllr Ian Barnes, Deputy Leader of Enfield Council has highlighted the huge environmental and health benefits that Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) bring to residents.
In a speech at the Full Council meeting on Thursday (28 January), Councillor Barnes explained how the council is committed to tackling climate change and creating a healthier planet for children who are growing up in the borough.
He outlined and emphasised that the purpose of LTNs is to deliver a change where people turn to Active Travel or use alternative methods of transport. This should reduce car journeys and improve air quality in the borough.
Cllr Ian Barnes said: “It’s a challenge for all of us but one that we must meet head-on for the sake of future generations. LTNs are designed to encourage drivers to walk or cycle, to carry out journeys at off-peak times, use public transport when safe, combine trips, car share or not make the journey at all. Of course, residents with some types of disabilities need to drive, and we hope these measures will leave the roads less congested for them in the future.
“The behavioural change we want to see will have a hugely positive effect. Childhood obesity is a big issue which is hardly surprising when an estimated 25% of morning traffic in London can be attributed to the ‘school run’.”
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods help reduce levels of car usage and reduce speed limits. Children play outside more, communities grow stronger, air pollution is lower, road safety improves and people use walking and cycling for everyday journeys.
Councillor Barnes, rejected claims that LTNs were not helpful to the local community as inaccurate and said they undermined the benefits they provided.
He said the Fox Lane Quieter Neighbourhood scheme and Bowes Primary Area Quieter Neighbourhood scheme, would ultimately help to provide better air quality and decrease air pollution, by reducing congestion in the number of vehicles that pass through residential streets.
LTNs introduce filters onto residential roads so that motor traffic can freely enter an area but cannot cross it. This reduces the danger from ‘rat-running’ vehicles.
Cllr Barnes explained how the Fox Lane Quieter Neighbourhood scheme has been implemented following significant levels of community engagement resulting in amendments to the scheme.
The Bowes Quieter Neighbourhood was put in place with less pre-engagement due to government Emergency Active Travel restrictions on the time available. Both schemes use Experimental Traffic Orders (ETOs) which enable the Council to implement the scheme on a trial basis.
Consultation takes place during the experimental trial period before a decision is made on whether to remove the trial or make the scheme permanent.
Traffic data collected will be used to inform air quality monitoring. This is achieved by inputting the traffic volume data into a model to help understand the impact on air quality. The analysis of this data has yet to be completed.
Cllr Ian Barnes, continued: “The main beneficiaries of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are the residents of this borough and in particular our children and young people. We will create more LTNs to stop rat-running and allow people to walk and cycle.
“We first must understand and accept that we have an environmental crisis on our hands. The growth in the number of cars is completely unsustainable.”
“A third of all car journeys are just over a mile which is the equivalent of a 15-minute walk for those who are able. As a society we see cars as an expression of our personal freedom, but we must change our thinking and see that our future lies in cleaner air and a stable climate.”
He added: “In both of the borough’s LTNs you can reach every single house by car, park on those roads, walk or cycle to wherever you wish. What you can no longer do is rat-run across residential streets to shave a few minutes off your journey. In the Fox Lane estate one junction saw 25,000 vehicles a week and cars were clocked at travelling at 60, 70 and even 80mph.
“One of the most frequent arguments I have heard is that LTNs cause congestion. But it is actually the sheer amount of cars on our roads that causes congestion. I am also told that the schemes push cars onto main roads, but that is exactly the point of LTNs.
“Dangerous through traffic is sent back to its proper place where the roads are designed for high volumes of vehicles. This in turn allows our residential roads, where 90% of residents live, to be safer and less polluted.”
“But I recognise that 10% of residents live on main roads which is why Enfield Council will do everything possible to improve air quality and traffic levels on those roads as well.”
“Residents care deeply about climate change and their children’s future. You can refuse to accept the creeping dominance of motor vehicles in our residential streets causing pollution, disease and increased danger to our children and grandchildren.”
“Ultimately if these LTN trials are unsuccessful then we will simply try something else, because our infrastructure cannot cope, our lungs cannot cope and our planet cannot cope. The wellbeing of our residents will always be the top priority for the council.”
The emergency services, including the Metropolitan Police, have been and continue to be engaged in discussion with the council on LTN projects.
Cllr Nesil Caliskan, Leader of Enfield Council, said: “We fully understand that adapting to LTNs is not easy and they have led to substantial changes in routine for some, and Enfield residents are not alone with their concerns. But we believe LTNs will make a significant difference to the health and wellbeing of our children and residents in the longer term.
“These are tough decisions we are making, but doing the right thing requires visualising a better future. It’s the Council’s responsibility to lead in delivering this long-term positive change.”
For further information on LTN projects in the borough visit the dedicated webpage.