By Isabella Nova and Chris Wilson
Hackney has the largest area covered by Low Traffic Neighborhoods than the rest of the Eastlondonlines area, according to new data by the London Boroughs Healthy Street Scorecard Coalition.
The data, collected through May to October last year, showed the borough has a 55 per cent coverage in areas deemed suitable for a LTN. It is followed by Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and Croydon, respectively.
LTNs, which are an initiative by councils to reduce traffic and motivate people to start walking and cycling, encourage a greener environment but public opinion remains divided, with strong views on both sides.
Eastlondonlines took an in-depth look at that data for each of the ELL boroughs and spoke to residents about their thoughts on LTNs.
Hackney had the highest percentage of suitable streets with a LTN. It currently has 55 per cent coverage in areas suitable for a LTN. The data also revealed that the School Streets Scheme, where traffic is reduced around schools at peak times, now covers over 39 per cent of schools. However, only 3.7 per cent of roads have protected cycle tracks.
Stoke Newington put in place a new LTN around Church Street in September 2021, which is a popular shopping destination. They have installed a bus gate and the street is closed between 7am-7pm. In December the council announced that Homerton would also become a LTN.
A spokesperson from Low Traffic Hackney, a coalition of local residents and organizations, told ELL in a statement last year that they are pleased with the decision.
They said: “The statistics show that the levels of traffic has fallen, air quality is improved. Several streets in the area have been made quieter and safer as a result of these measures. We know that the majority of households don’t own a car, and these changes will enable more people to make active travel choices, to the benefit of their health and to the benefit of the environment.”
Although this is a great success for the council in its initiative for healthy streets, The total number of average annual pedestrian serious and fatal casualties is 29.1/100,000 which is the highest of all the London boroughs.
Many people in Hackney have views against these changes being made. Clair Battaglino, a representative from Hackney Together, an organisation against LTNs told ELL that “it is a social and environmental injustice.”
“The streets are only suitable if you live within them,” she said in regard to the Healthy Street Scorecard data. She told ELL that traffic instead becomes displaced unto roads with working class and ethnic minority residents.
“About 30 schools or more are getting displaced traffic and… the council are not giving us the information about pollution or congestion.”
The date revealed that 25 per cent of streets in Tower Hamlets have a LTN and only 7 per cent of roads have protected cycle tracks. Only 38 per cent of adults are walking 5 times a week in the area and just about 5 per cent of adults are cycling 5 times a week. Tower Hamlets also has the second highest number of average annual pedestrian casualties after Hackney at 21.5/100,000, yet it has one of the lowest cars registered per 100 households at 34.
The borough’s Liveable Streets programme has been set up by the council with an initiative that aims to “ make it easier, safer and more convenient” to get around by foot, bike and public transport.
They have identified 17 areas in the borough for development and although the programme has promised 50 safe school streets by 2022, only six have been delivered. The borough also has only 5 per cent traffic free school streets, which is the lowest rate of all the Inner London Boroughs.
Like in Hackney, many people in the borough have opposed the initiatives set out from the councils programme and a recent petition to stop LTNs and road closures has reached 746 signatures.
Lewisham’s data states that the borough has only 12 per cent coverage in areas that are suitable for LTNs, slightly below the London average of 19 per cent. Only 24 per cent of borough schools operate a School Streets Scheme.
The Lewisham and Lee Green LTN will be retained by the council, despite results of a consultation showing that 57 per cent of respondents were against it.
The move was approved in a Cabinet meeting on January 12, in which the mother of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, Rosamund, spoke at length against LTNs.
Ella died in 2013 at the age of 9 and was the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death.
Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said that she was speaking on behalf of her children, who have both been affected by pollution levels in the area. She suggested that she may “ask for a judicial review” if the council refused to consider alternative measures.
The LTN covers an area around Manor Park and Hither Green and extends down to the border with Greenwich. It was arranged by the council to “restrict through traffic”, “improve air quality”, and help to “create quieter roads which feel safer”.
73 per cent of trips in Lewisham are made either on foot or by bike or public transport; however, this is the lowest rate of any of the inner London boroughs.
There are 16.1 casualties per 100,000 daily walking stages, suggesting there are just over half as many incidents as there are in Hackney.
According to the council’s findings, 21 per cent of respondents agreed that the LTN had encouraged them to walk or cycle more, with 14 per cent of the 751 car drivers agreeing. They also reported journey times that were “on par with 2019 baseline levels”.
Crucially, data sets revealed that “average traffic flows within and on the roads immediately surrounding the LTN have actually reduced by between 20 per cent and 60 per cent”, something that suggests that pollution levels would be falling long-term.
Croydon is placed 23rd out of the 33 boroughs included in the data. It is one of the boroughs with the lowest for coverage of areas suitable for LTNs, at 5 per cent. Just about 4 per cent of roads that have potential for low-traffic restrictions actually have an LTN, the lowest score for all boroughs.
The borough’s results in the data are brought down because of the high levels of car ownership, at 92 cars per household. There is also low use of controlled parking at 20 per cent and Croydon has the second lowest score for protected cycle track for all boroughs. It does have one of the lowest numbers of average pedestrian casualties at 15.1/100,000. Only 17 per cent of the area has safe school streets.
Only 2 per cent of adults cycle 5 times a week and 32 per cent walk 5 times a week in the borough.
However, there is a new initiative for the borough. Labour has announced a decision on plans to impose a new segregated cycle lanes on the Brighton Road, from Whitgift School to Purley Hospital.