The impact of the LTN on the elderly, the disabled & their carers

We asked local residents and businesses to write to us and tell us their stories, for us to share with councillors, MPs and other members of the public. We don’t want to speak for people. We don’t tell people what they can and can’t do. Instead, we invite people speak for themselves. Everyone has different needs and abilities, and everyone needs to have their voice heard. Here are some of the stories we received, as told to us.

These stories were sent to us before the council made changes on the 9th November 2020, however most are still very relevant, as many issues relate to significantly extended journey times due to diversions and congestion caused by displaced traffic.


Margaret, a cancer sufferer who lives inside the LTN

We have lived in our road for over 50 years & love our home but sadly the road closures have caused so much stress in our lives that we have actually thought about moving.  

Due to serious health problems plus being in our seventies & eighties we need our car. I attend Guy’s hospital for cancer treatment & before the virus could be dropped to the Station which is 5 minutes from us.   Now we are cut off & will have to add to the congestion on already congested roads.  

There are no words to describe the added stress that these dreadful road closers are causing to so many people!

Jill, in her late 70s, takes her husband to hospital appointments

The closure of the local roads is putting huge pressure on the surrounding roads. I will be trying to get my 77 year old husband to hospital in Lewisham shortly. There is no direct bus route. I used to drive, a 5 minute Journey. Now it can take 35/40 minutes.

I fail to see how this and other small local journeys will cut pollution when we are all forced down Lee High road. Not to mention fumes for the residents there.

If cameras could be rush hours only and w/e off this would help hugely.

The barriers have divided the local community. Not all of us can walk or take up cycling !

David, drives an accessible mini-bus

As a driver of an accessible minibus it has meant our passengers have to spend longer on the bus as a lot of the time we are stuck in gridlock. It affects the service we are trying to provide for those that have already been disproportionately affected by the current crisis.

Linda & Roger are in their 70s and live inside the LTN

I have a broken wrist and cannot cycle for months. My father cannot walk long distances. We have no guarantee of getting on a bus, so we are literally stuck with where we can walk to.

All taxis have put up their prices as they are stuck in traffic much longer than before. So, this system is great if you are healthy and live in an affluent quiet road but totally rubbish for disabled and disadvantaged. It could have been done after Covid, when we could use busses again…

We are often effectively kettled within the LTN. We are in a very good position to monitor traffic on the South Circular. It has been getting steadily worse since the introduction of the LTN. We have to drive to Putney, using the South Circular, on 3 days a week. We have been doing this for the last 3 months, since my daughter’s maternity leave ended, in order to help care for our baby grandson. Without the pandemic we would travel by train, as we always did, but we are 70 and cannot risk it.

We always try to avoid peak times/rush hours. In normal times, pre LTN, the journey took 50 minutes. In this year’s school holidays it usually took an extra 10 to 20 minutes. Now that schools are back and furlough is ending, it routinely takes an extra 35 to 50 minutes. 30 to 45 minutes of that is spent in Lewisham, what used to be 5 minutes from home. It doesn’t matter which route we choose – via Lewisham Town Centre or Brownhill Road.

One Friday at 10 am it took ages to get out of the LTN onto Burnt Ash Road. We were kettled. Traffic was jammed solid in both directions. I tried 3 potential exits from the LTN, 3 point turning to try to get out. On our return journey last Friday we left Putney at 7pm. At 7.55pm we entered Brownhill Road. At 8.45pm we got home.

To make matters worse, we saw 2 police vehicles and 3 ambulances on blue lights, presumably responding to a big incident, (NB – not connected with the hold up), struggling to get down the middle of Brownhill Road.

To the council: please don’t assume everyone within the LTN is going to “fight tooth and nail” to keep the current LTN, as you say in your response to LBL’s latest letter drop. There was very significant local concern well before the pandemic, about the proposed Healthy Neighbourhood arrangements, evidenced through comments at the Lee Green Assembly, a petition to LBL, and feedback from residents of the current LTN at the drop in session about the Healthy Neighbourhood Scheme held at the Good Shepherd Church. The LTN is basically the Healthy Neighbourhood Scheme, renamed.

Jo, lives inside the LTN but cares for her 90 year old mother in Bexley

I am incensed by the ridiculous measures that TFL and the local council are going to.

Shutting Dermody Road and Leahurst Road mean that there is no way across to Lee High Road without adding 4 miles to my journey, using extra fuel and polluting the neighbourhood.

All for the few cyclists that may, but probably won’t, use the new cycle paths. Trying to push people onto bicycles is fine for people who are fit and healthy, however, it is impossible for me.

My main journey is to Bexley to look after my 90 year old mother – I can’t do that on a bike, or a bus as I have to take her to hospital check ups or to the Doctors, it just isn’t practical for real life.

I am being boxed into my street with no way out. I am going to have to move elsewhere, just because of road schemes in my area. I wonder if the council have a grant that I could apply for to cover my moving costs

I would love to buy an electric car, but there are no charging points locally, and I can’t guarantee parking outside my house, and putting a cable across the path is a hazard, so isn’t a viable option.

Surely pushing people onto public transport is the last thing we need at the moment, how can they claim it is for Covid19?

I feel completely impotent, frustrated and depressed.

Martin, retired with health issues which means he depends on his car

From our observations and personal experiences, the new road closures at Dermody and Ennersdale Roads, have been a noticeable hindrance to the traffic flow and added to daily car journey times. Dermody Rd is not heavily populated on either side and outside normal commuting time the traffic flow is not excessive. It is an important link road for residents. Being retired and on heavy medication we cannot risk travel by public transport – our only option has to be via car. We now find ourselves adding to congestion and local journey times are doubled.

Annie, a disabled driver who lives just outside the LTN

I find this whole scheme was introduced under the covid-19 before it could be thought out properly. As a disabled driver, with a blue badge I now find I cannot get to the other side of Hither Green, where my chemist is and the few parking bays left are. It has destroyed the local community. The other side of Hither Green would like to develop a Plaza in their quiet, low traffic roads. We on the other hand have to suffer from all the traffic displaced by this new scheme.

Christine, a blue badge holder living just outside the LTN

This has made it hell for me. I’m a blue badge holder so public transport and cycling are not an option for me or my 89yo mother. Even if Dermody Road or Ennersdale Road was opened it would make my journeys so much easier. But now, there are cycle lanes on Lewisham High Street where the old swimming baths were and in Molesworth Street.
Why do the cyclists need their own lane where the old swimming baths were??? Why couldn’t they use the bus lane??? As for Molesworth Street neither police, fire brigade or ambulance will be able to get past the traffic at peak times now that two lanes are now one dark lane and one cycle lane, even though there is already a cycle lane on the pavement.

I live on off Brownhill Road. I gave up smoking two years ago because of my asthma but because of the increased traffic on Brownhill Road, I now have to use my inhalers again. God knows what my health would have been like if I hadn’t given up smoking.

I have not had a single letter about these changes that have been rushed in under COVID 19, as if these changes would stop the spread – hah, it was just an excuse. At the point these changes were implemented, everybody was in lockdown. Why were no readings taken before??? Any readings now have nothing to be compared to. ITS A FARCE.

Some roads are being monitored to check the traffic changes but not the arterial roads like the A205 Brownhill Road which most of the time is just a slow moving car park.

I don’t mean to rant, but it’s got to the point that if I want to take my autistic son to Greenwich Park to feed the birds, I either spend an hour going up Brownhill Road or have to travel through Lewisham which is now a nightmare.

I have heard that this is a temporary measure which will be reviewed, but doubt that it will change. A small area will benefit from the LTN and a much larger area will suffer. A lot of disabled people are actively being discriminated against because of these changes.

Lynn, suffers from disabilities and lives in Blackheath

Don’t forget South Row Blackheath where this all started from. I suffer disabilities. My car is my lifeline (I wish it wasn’t). It keeps me independent and stops me from becoming housebound, relying on others!

When you closed south row I was unable to get to my home at all. Because our council estate is in the ‘bosom’ of the wealthy Blackheath Park Road and Morden Road. As you must be aware of the gated system they use, well the gates were closed so the was no alternative route left to me. I live just off Pond Road. I can tell you when I returned home to find these unconsulted Road closures I was livid. I was spitting feathers. Not only but also it took me 3/4 of an hour to go the route you were trying to channel me down, Wymss Road. This too was a nightmare as it became gridlocked immediately as it only allows for one vehicle to move in one direction at a time.

All in all, it was chaotic to say the least. It was badly thought out. You used the virus as a means to push through plans that you knew would be unpopular. With consultation you would have ironed out so many of these issues as the local people know the local roads the best. And, what about the emergency services. I witnessed a fire engine stuck at the bollards on a call out another sector that had no idea of your plans. You say the lanes are for cyclists and pedestrians, well let me tell you the cyclists are becoming ever obnoxious and they think they have right of way. When I’ve managed a walk I have received abuse from them on a couple of occasions shouting to me to move out of the way. I can’t repeat what I said apart from telling them to invest in a bell because I do not have eyes in the back of my head. Others come steaming towards you quite adamant they are not going to go around you.

Now I can’t move fast and I have found it all a bit too much so now I stay away from the heath. Honestly I don’t feel these paths are for pedestrians anymore. You have created an us and them scenario. They think they are ‘up there’ and motorists are ‘scum’. You can tell that by the way they talk to you on Nextdoor. They don’t care if you’re disabled and nor does Lewisham Council. If you go ahead with this I will be trapped as I don’t qualify for a gate pass. I think you’d need to do something with number plate recognition. When I think of all the people still homeless and on your housing waiting list and this is your priority I’m disgusted.

Pat, suffers from epilepsy, and osteoarthritis in both knees

Here is my depressing account ,which will be echoed by many I am sure.

The implementation of the LTN has effectively segregated me from my community. Segregation is the new inclusivity as far as Lewisham Council is concerned.

As someone who has osteoarthritis in both knees and Epilepsy, this extremist push to punish car owners and get the public on bikes or walk is both damaging to my health and placing greater constraints on me. As a person who lives with Epilepsy, riding a bike would be extremely foolhardy and certainly not advisable.

I used to shop in Sainsbury’s Lee because it was convenient to get into the car for a short trip to do a weekly shop (my husband drives as people with Epilepsy who do not meet certain DVLA conditions cannot do so, of which I am one).

However due to the 24hr bus lane and the busy and dangerous right turn into Burnt Ash Road, not to mention traffic jams to get there, we now go to Sainsbury’s in Charlton

Thus the LTN has not decreased either our car journey or emissions as we are travelling further to shop.

I cannot walk to the shops in Hither Green and support them as it is difficult for me to carry things because of the impact on my knees. If we decide to drive there, are we going to be engulfed in one big traffic jam on Burnt Ash Road before we can turn in to get to these shops? I’m afraid it isn’t worth the risk.

Also as we head into the end of British Summer Time and move towards darker nights, I am very concerned that Hither Green Station and the area around it will encourage crime and muggings. These streets will be very quiet and deserted and as a result of these ill thought out and sneakily imposed road closures, getting my husband to pick me up from the station will take longer and increase my risk of being a victim of crime. So Hither Green Station will also be a no go area in the dark for me.

It is also a common feature to see people cycling and using a scooter to ride on the pavement on my street. I thought the roads in this area had been closed to allow these ‘special people’ to travel in safety on them not the pavements?!

As you can see my travelling opportunities in my immediate community has become very small and depressing , thanks to the LTN.

Lewisham Council, far from being a Council that champions equality amongst all its residents, favours the chosen few i.e the able bodied and is quite happy to damn the vulnerable, those with mobility / health issues, and the elderly to hell.
We aren’t valued and we certainly don’t count. Welcome to my world Lewisham Council.

Yvonne, lives just outside the LTN with her sister who has health issues

Where I live has been cut off from the other side where my doctors surgery is . Traffic is so horrendous need to leave an hour earlier for an appointment due to this. Traffic has all been pushed to Hither Green Lane , SpringBank and Wellmeadow this is not decreasing pollution just pushing it from one area to another in fact due to traffic queues surely creating more. Also some drivers are driving more dangerously such as driving along the wrong side of the road in order to try and move along the queue.

My sister cannot physically walk very far due to health concerns and cannot cycle we rely on our car ,we do not use it every day just when required due to more traffic being pushed on our roads her Asthma is causing a problem so where is the healthy neighbourhood helping here ?

Should the government TFL perhaps look at increasing the age that anyone can start driving to try and reduce cars going on the road and maybe make electric cars more affordable ?

All this extra stress is not helping mental health .

Tracy, a care worker who lives inside the LTN

I was actually not opposed to the scheme initially, however a very short journey which would take 10 to 12 minutes in traffic to my elderly clients is now a 50 minute heavy traffic stressful journey, that’s nearly 2 hours there and back to Catford/ Downham. These closures for residents are absolutely hideous.

The bulk of the traffic now shifted onto main roads which continuously have burst pipes, road works , faulty lights etc are struggling and it’s not even heavy rainfall yet when these start to erupt onto our roads, especially down by Lewisham clock tower.

I sat outside Lewisham hospital to the Lewisham roundabout for 25 minutes and I knew if I turned right my old road plan I would be home in 5 minutes, but 40 minutes later I’m home.. Horrendous


Stories are as provided and are only edited for style or to remove identifying information.

Nobody should be surprised by the failure of the Lee Green LTN

Patrica Richardson has lived on Manor Lane Terrace since 1979. Patricia, who is in her mid 70s, was born and brought up in Leahurst Road and went to Manor Lane primary, as it then was. Her maternal grandparents lived on Fernbrook Road. Her husband, Peter, who has disabilities, is on the coordinators committee for the Local Assemblies and was also on the Lewisham “Transport Committee”, which morphed into “Healthier Neighbourhoods”. They have both been very active members of the community, fighting to save libraries in the area since 1999, and have been committee members for the Lee Forum since it began.

In February 2020 Patricia sent an email to Lewisham’s mayor, Damien Egan. They never received a response – possibly as all such feedback was to be directed to “commonplace”, a platform wholly unsuitable for broad feedback. In their letter, they foresaw nearly all of the problems that are only now, 14 weeks into a trial, being acknowledged. We are grateful that Mayor Egan is now more personally involved and seems to be listening in a way that our campaigning councillors have not. Patricia gave us permission to publish her letter in full, below.


11/2/2020

Dear Mayor Egan,

These questions need answering for the benefit of local residents of Lewisham and local democracy.

TFL constant advertising quote: EVERY JOURNEY MATTERS! Really? Well, read on to find out how our journeys will be comprised by TFL plans, eagerly seized upon by the local council and paid for with public money.

There is no doubt that the project has been poorly managed from the start by council officers and councillors. Calling the project “Healthier Neighbourhoods”, with no reference in the title to roads, road closures, parking, traffic movement was misleading to say the least.

Councillors promote the scheme rather than represent fairly the differing views of residents, or listen to the difficulties caused to residents.

Information released at Local Assemblies, to Assembly Co-ordinators or the HN Working Party (my husband is a co-ordinator and working party member) proved to be contradictory and unclear and changed regularly. (Please look at the first plan for Road Closures and ask how the second current plan came into being. Whose influence was at work here? We were not included. Why have other residents now been penalised and discriminated against?)

The so-called consultation: Firstly the mail-drop was not comprehensive in Lee Green Ward, in spite of denials by officialdom. Secondly it was on-line, therefore excluding certain residents. Thirdly residents put in their views, so it was virtually a free-for –all. One of our residents has scrutinised the returns noting that fewer than 200 wanted road closures, but nearly 900 residents signed the petition late last year asking for a re-think, as they were aghast at the impact the first list of proposals would have had.

We needed a proper consultation that is clear and accurate with recorded information on the trial design, taking note of problems that would be caused.

Adjacent Wards: Grove Park, Blackheath, Lewisham Central wards and the RBG will all be affected, either by being cut off for access, passing through to other parts of the borough and finding other routes. They were excluded.

Borough wide access: Council services, facilities and other facilities, the hospital, doctors, dentists, vets,adult education, libraries, sports facilities, pools, churches, church meeting halls, schools, cafes, restaurants, railway stations, shops, the industrial estate …… how do we get there? The under 40 year old (whose name I have) to whom I (aged 74) addressed my question – How do I get from Manor Lane Terrace to Brockley Rise Adult Education Centre with my equipment and my neighbour? His advice was to join traffic on the Lee High Road, drive to Lewisham, left into Rennell Street, round the back of the precinct into Lewisham High Street and down to the Ladywell turn off. He also said “Well, that is just you.” I replied that was why I was asking the question. It means more time on the road, increased use of petrol, adding to the road congestion – Fine! That is until further street cut-offs occur in other areas of the borough, as is planned. Alternatively I could go east on the Lee High Road, cross over and into traffic, and get to the south circular, to go through Catford etc etc. When I asked about the extra traffic forced on to these roads I was told that the “models” showed as the journey becomes more congested fewer cars will use that route. So where will it go? There was NO answer!

And I foolishly thought Lewisham council wanted us to use its services, especially those contributing to well-being in old age. Ditto Mayor of London’s policy!

The Town Hall for meetings, participating in democracy and consultations will require 2 buses.

Returning means night time journeys and then walking, possibly risky, at night. Or, driving on the new routes will take longer, therefore more pollution.

Lee Green Assembly Priority: At the meeting on 30/10/2020 those at the meeting voted in favour of the priority of the Assembly to be the vulnerable. It is some of those vulnerable who will be affected by the proposals. The mantra is to walk or cycle and this is presented by officers and councillors, mostly under 40 (pace Cllr Mallory.) No mention was made of accomplishing either in bad weather or through dark nights. An investigation is needed into problems created for those, elderly, infirm, physically disadvantaged who need car transport and not a roundabout route.

No Equality Impact Assessment has been carried out.

Was it not Neil Kinnock who warned “Do not be old or sick in Tory Britain.” Will that now apply to Labour Lewisham?

The under 40s need to refer back to Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” it comes to all of us eventually, and its problems.

Emergency vehicles: Fire, Police, Ambulance … all sometimes in a great hurry, especially ambulances attending an emergency, and then getting the patient back to hospital. Please explain CLEARLY what is the extra time needed to unlock then re-lock modal filters on the outward journey, then back to the hospital with an emergency patient. Such delays could affect all levels of society.

Disparity: This varies each time new proposals surface.

Why have the original road closures been abandoned in favour of others? Whose influence was at work here? Why are residents who live north of Kellerton Road, including Northbrook, MLT, Murillo, Rembrandt, Abernethy, Lochaber, Old Road being penalised for problems they do not experience? We will have only one way out of the ward to anywhere and using the Lee High Road will cause delays on that route. We will have no direct access to either Lee or Hither Green stations. There is no transport to Hither Green, except on Manor Park, and no way of getting back at night (safety, security?) It will be difficult to pick up elderly or infirm visitors or those with luggage. What about those who wish to pick up family members, coming home at night?

3 electric car chargers at the south end of Kellerton? Great, much needed, but inaccessible and cut off if you live on the other side of the barriers due in ML and MP, or the Hither Green area. No worries, you can drive on to Burnt Ash, turn left, turn left at the junction, head to Lewisham and turn left to reach Kellerton. You return home then go back for your car and back to the Lee High Road to get home.

Residential roads: Has anyone in officialdom considered that the South Circular, Burnt Ash and the Lee High Road are also residential? Do these residents not require equal consideration, freedom from pollution, noise and congestion? The division of the ward, cutting up the community and denying essential direct access is reprehensible and discriminatory to say the least. Causing greater difficulties for the elderly and/or infirm to lead as normal a life as possible is appalling.

Street furniture: Clearly such changes will require maximum publicity at all levels, in advance, in order not to magnify any confusion. It will also require street furniture at every road junction entering the ward from any main road advising of the road closures. Timed closures for local schools will require notification on street furniture. Residents on those roads will have their own views.

However, why has it not been considered to have either camera ID for residents of the zone to allow them through filters. Alternatively if pop-up barriers are being allowed near schools why can theynot be used for the other filters at certain times of day? We in Manor Lane Terrace, and much of our area in the north of the ward, have little traffic most of the day, so why do we need 24/7 blockages?

A question raised at the Hither Green located assembly meeting recently concerned what would be done if one of the 3 major routes (south circular, Lee High Road or Burnt Ash Road) were to be blocked at any time. At the moment Brownhill Road has gas works for 6 months. We were told by the officer in charge that should this be the case roads in the closure zone would be opened. How will you notify drivers and residents of this, and is that the case?

Trial time: Everyone has been told it will be 6 months. Read the small print, paras 7,8,9 and you will note, quote – “The time scale for changes will be dependent on availability of staff and financial resource and while we will seek to implement these as soon as possible, it may not happen immediately after the trial. The trial can remain in place for up to 18 months.” Ever been had? We have been warned.

Yours faithfully,

Patricia M. Richardson (Mrs.)

Cc Janet Daby MP

Mayor Khan

Len Duvall

Electric vehicles as part of the pollution solution

Nina from One Lewisham talks about her EV dreams, how far away the reality is, and how Lewisham Council need to address home charging to help drive adoption.

I recently bought an Electric car…

I had been thinking about it for a while weighing up all the pros and cons financially etc. My petrol car was getting old and would start to need money spent on it so I thought that when that happened I would make sure my next car was an electric car.

I made the change earlier than I had planned. One day I found myself accidentally part of the rush hour (this was before the LTN)… I watched a young woman with her baby in her front garden on the South Circular tidying up her garden. I felt awful contributing to the fumes her child was breathing in. That did it – I bought a second hand electric car.

The car itself is great. Lovely to drive, quiet, I am no longer contributing to exhaust emissions, no VED, cheaper residents parking permit, no congestion charge etc.

Plus cheaper to ‘fuel’ right? And really easy! Just plug in and off you go etc.

Not so.

I have discovered that charging en route is not much of a problem. There are plentiful rapid chargers available and more are coming online all the time. This is fantastic.

Charging at home however is a big problem if you do not have off street parking. I do not have off street parking.

Currently all home charging solutions are aimed at those people who do have off street parking. As we all know homes with driveways carry a premium in London and therefore are generally owned by those in a higher income bracket. They are then also able to take advantage of OLEV grants towards the cost of home charging connectors and low cost overnight electric tariffs with which to charge their car.

If you do not have a driveway your choices in Lewisham are very very limited.

Currently the nearest option I have are the Source London chargers in Kellerton Road. Great, I thought, problem solved. However there are issues with this. Source London charge not by the Kwh but by the minute. Not by the number of minutes you are actually drawing a charge from their unit, but by the number of minutes the cable is physically attached to the unit. This is very expensive.

Just go on to any EV social media forum and mention Source London and you will get the general idea of what ev owners think of this company. Also one has to ‘sign up’ pay a fee (a one off or monthly) , this means giving all sorts of personal details to the company.

Most electric car charging companies do this – download an app (so far I have had to download 5 apps), put in personal details, put in payment details etc. You do not have to do this when you fuel a car with petrol. You put the fuel in, pay and go.

I understand that Ubitricity are now rolling out lamp post and bollard chargers across Lewisham. They are a much better company in my view. The lamp post and bollard chargers are less of an intrusion visually on the street. One issue in quite a few roads in Lewisham is that the lamp posts are on the house edge of the pavement and not the kerb edge, I don’t know if this causes an issue as to where the charging point can realistically be placed on those streets. My street is one such street.

But even with Ubitricity it still costs more to charge from a charging post than at home. Ubitricity are approximately 24 pence per kWh, my home electricity supply would be approx 13 pence per kWh.

What I want to do, and what most EV owners will want to do is charge at home. Home charging can be done with a regular 3 pin plug and no extra cost needed to have a charging point installed. From a consumer point of view the attraction of EV’s is their low running and low ‘fuelling’ costs. This attraction is needed as currently they are more expensive to buy than petrol/diesel fuelled vehicles.

As things are in Lewisham those living in homes with no driveway (those often in a lower income) bracket are having to pay the most!

Oxford Council were involved in a trial of various ways to charge electric cars and came up an innovative idea when it came to home charging.
https://www.tsu.ox.ac.uk/pubs/2019-GULO-Phase-1-Final-Report.pdf

These photos show various options of pavement channel. The cables are not permanently left in the channel – only when charging the vehicle. Personally this looks to me like the cheapest safe option to allow people to charge their cars at home.

Hampshire county council also advise their residents on how to charge their car at home safely. https://www.hants.gov.uk/transport/ev-charging-points/ev-charging-guidance

My very strong suspicion is that without a council approved solution to home charging, the resourceful people of Lewisham will come up with solutions themselves. These will no doubt vary in attention to detail where safety is concerned. It would also tempt people to pave over their front gardens to create a ‘driveway’ with or without a dropped kerb. As we know, for many reasons, this is not desirable.

If we really want to encourage an uptake of electric vehicles they have to be more convenient than petrol vehicles, not less.

I’d be keen to discuss EV charging solutions with Lewisham Council to see how we could make better value options available to all.

The LTN and the horrified cyclist

“The greatest contribution we can make is to care for one another. To be good neighbours. Good citizens. To protect those in need and build strong communities.”

Keir Starmer

Local cyclist, environmentalist and Labour member Matthew Snowling initially welcomed the Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme, but now questions whether the benefits for some can justify the costs for others. These are his words:

I am a cyclist!

I am a cyclist. In Germany the locals used to call me ‘Sunny boy’ as I cycled up to the bar to meet them, it was wonderful to experience working across Europe. Cycling was always central to life, since then I have cycled to work for two decades, surviving Belgian drivers and enjoying the cycle paths of various Cities. My cycling continues in London, even though we lack the facilities I encountered elsewhere in Europe.

I became interested in pollution here and noticed the effects on the less affluent population and Catford specifically, near to where I live. My interest in these issues has morphed into campaigning following the tragic death of a girl linked to her home being on the south circular. I have supported radical measures to reduce traffic into London, single car only households, alternate day driving, large vehicle reduction, improved infrastructure and better speed limit enforcement.

Initially, the introduction of the Lewisham and Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme was something I welcomed, at least on a trial basis, even if I had my doubts as being of much benefit for cycling. In fact, with my attentions focused on renovating our new house, I put the initial murmurings into a box in my mind marked ‘moaning drivers’! 

Statistical wake-up call

Over recent weeks, I have had more time to personally research the demographic make-up of the affected communities and consider the effects of the LTN more widely.

Using publically available statistics, it is quite clear that a more affluent, higher car owning area is being rewarded with the LTN at the cost an area with lower affluence, lower car ownership and, in places, already serious pollution. I find this totally unacceptable.

What I find most appalling is that the scheme deliberately seeks to push traffic onto other residential roads. These residential ‘main’ roads are not wide and purpose built like the North circular. In fact, my ‘side road’ is far wider than Brownhill Road, where buses now sit in constant traffic from Catford to Burnt Ash Hill, making them pointless to use.

With no sign of promised ‘evaporation’, the project is at best flawed and at worst socially unjust.

The Council states that traffic will reduce in time, but offer very weak evidence that it will ever do so. It is clear they are not interested in the least in this and is reinforced by the fact that there are no pollution monitors placed in these areas to monitor the effects of the LTN on them.

I have cycled the area for years and have never seen such traffic. I feel it is despicable to be so flippant with their lives and children’s health, their intransigence to criticism is astounding.

I believe we have got to where we are because of a relatively small group of people, including councillors, lobbyists and, quite frankly, NIMBYs. I believe some are hiding behind environmentalism for their own personal benefit while others are blindly follow a belief system along the lines of religious zealotry.

I completely accept those that say, “well, something must be done”, but I do not accept the LTN is in any way a solution.

It’s no good for A to B cyclists

As a commuter cyclist it is now far worse, we use the ‘main’ roads as they are more direct with less junctions and now have to breath on the increased pollution from cars at standstill and get around them, I have noticed drivers are becoming more aggressive and so it is more dangerous.

It is commendable to try and install more lanes but they are sporadic rather than continuous and so also more dangerous as you enter and leave the road, some introductions like the one on Molesworth defy logic as there was an acceptable one already with a sufficient path for the very few walkers.

Again, traffic at a standstill and increased pollution, will it really evaporate?

Finally, on cycling within the LTN with my 6 year old, we feel no real benefit as anyway it was always quiet outside of rush hours.

Rethink this now

I say to my fellow Labour members in particular, think on this again! 

The LTN area has more cars, it is more affluent and has significantly less pollution than the areas it admits displacing it to. Our councillors cynically ignore the fact that the affected roads are also residential. The Catford part of the South Circular has eight times or more pollution than WTO limits!

Meanwhile, I have little faith that the council’s pollution monitoring will do anything other than confirm the success of the scheme, thanks to overlooking affected areas and careful manipulation of the monitoring points.

We need radical change to reduce traffic in the highest pollution areas first, then only later we can look at localised projects. My road is one of the widest in the area with rows of huge trees along its long length, it easily accommodates the traffic that avoids Catford from Brownhill Road to the Bromley Road and vice versa at rush hours. 

Where I live could soon benefit from being in another LTN. But I am sure this is not the answer. Do we have a serious pollution issue in our street with its two to three car million pound six bedroomed houses comparable to Brownhill? No, of course we do not.

I will not have my family benefit at the expense of another community.

Keir Starmer only this week stated that our lives should not be defined by our postcode, social injustice should not be allowed no matter what the reason.

LTN’s can work, I have seen them abroad, but they are smaller and have large ring roads, this is a square peg for a round hole. We will end up with divided communities, let’s wait for Starmer to be in power with a labour Mayor and introduce radical car reduction policies correctly.

Sure, with an even quieter road I might get a good lay in. But how could I go to sleep at night?

These are the views of a local resident who is not part of the group behind the One Lewisham campaign. We are using our blog to highlight local voices who have concerns or are personally impacted by the LTN as implemented. For more on One Lewisham’s campaign goals see Our Mission.

Lewisham council leaflet: the facts

Lewisham Council has dug into its PR budget for a charm offensive, presumably in the face of a huge amount of negative feedback and general disquiet from residents inside and outside of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood, and pushed the glossy leaflet above through local doors.

It’s not yet clear whether the leaflet has been distributed beyond the boundaries of the LTN, but given its intention appears to be to quell concerns about the impact on surrounding areas, you would presume that to be the case. (Update: somebody on Muirkirk Road has just received one, which suggests this is big leaflet drop!).

But how accurate is the leaflet? Is it useful communication or council propaganda to prop up a failing scheme?

The LTNs aim to reduce traffic on all roads, not just on the roads where measures are put in place.

There is no evidence that an LTN can reduce traffic on all roads, even if there is a net reduction overall. Other schemes have seen an 11% average increase on surrounding & main roads, but in schemes a third of the size with less traffic to displace.

How do they do that, exactly? In other schemes, such as the much cited Waltham Forest’s Walthamstowe Village LTN, whilst there is thought to be an overall net reduction in traffic in the area due to “traffic evaporation”, it is absolutely undisputed that main and surrounding roads have seen increased traffic as a result of displacement.

Some roads such as East Avenue saw increases as high as 40%! We suspect this is similar to what we are seeing on roads here such as Hither Green Lane.

From the Waltham Forest Council’s review in 2017:

We looked at the position of all the traffic counters used to analyse the before and after in Walthamstow Village. It is clear there are huge gaps in the monitoring, with several nearby surrounding roads which will clearly be alternative routes not being measured.

In addition to this, the wider main road network was never analysed to see if there was an increase in traffic bypassing the village or heading to alternative locations, despite the council’s promise to do this in 2015. This uncounted displacement will show up as ‘evaporation.

When sharing the results of the counts, Waltham Forest incorrectly totalled up all the small roads inside the ‘village’, and then compared them to the single counts on longer stretches of main roads. This results in significant double or even triple counting, and dramatically flattered the LTN scheme. This situation appears to have been replicated with the Lee Green scheme.

These false figures which claimed 10,000 cars a day were removed from inside the LTN have been quoted in conversations with our council.

By using a traffic analysis technique called “screenlining”, where you measure a single entry or exit point per route, we can eliminate the double counting. Using this technique, it seems the reduction in traffic inside the LTN was half that quoted by the Council – more like 5,000 cars per day.

But the surrounding roads saw an average increase of 11%.

This is likely to be an underestimate as an alternative route on the North side of the scheme, Church Hill, had no baseline traffic counts conducted. Overall this is a net reduction, not including any missing routes, of 2.5%.

Screenline analysis of Walthamstow’s LTN “before” and “after” traffic counts

It’s worth bearing in mind that the Walthamstow Village LTN is a third of the size of the Lewisham Lee Green LTN. This goes against Living Street’s guidance which suggests an area of one square kilometre (walkable in 15 minutes) works best.

The distance created between unfiltered through roads in Lee Green is twice as far as in Walthamstow. Our main roads also get 2-3x more traffic, and we previously had 2x more traffic on roads inside our scheme according to Lewisham Council counts – meaning more traffic is being displaced onto busier roads. It would take you 45 minutes to walk the length of our LTN.

Waltham Forest also has a purpose built six lane ring road nearby, whereas ours, The South Circular, is a two lane (one in each direction) residential road along our stretch, unsuitable for high volumes of traffic.

And remember that the Walthamstow Village scheme came with £30m of investment to encourage active travel, such as street lighting, cycle lanes, bike storage, seating, and pedestrian priority junctions and crossings – not just planters, bollards, cameras and road signs. We have had significantly less investment.

“By creating quieter streets, LTNs encourage walking and cycling, and discourage unnecessary car journeys”.

Simply closing side roads to through traffic does very little to encourage walking and cycling. Main roads are often far more in need of treatment.

Judging from feedback we’ve received from many residents, we’re not alone in wondering whether LTNs do in fact encourage walking and cycling. The pavements are no wider, you still cannot safely pass people at school run times. The roads are still lined on both sides by parked cars, so you cannot step out onto the road.

Nor would it be safe to step out on the road, for whilst there may be less traffic, the roads have not been pedestrianised – if anything, cars, vans, and motorbikes come whizzing down even faster, as they try and figure out their way out of the maze.

It was observed in lockdown that quieter roads meant more speeding.

The lack of enforcement of the 20mph zone featured heavily in the original 2019 ‘consultation’ – but residents were told there was no budget for cameras. We now have four for the LTN, of course. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Many cyclists have said they never had a problem cycling through what is now the LTN. However, they needed to cycle along other roads, which are now so busy they’re impassable to cyclists.

One cyclist recently commented “The irony is cycling is pretty much impossible, not to mention dangerous, on the roads surrounding the LTN as there’s just no space left on the road! I had to cycle in the middle on Horncastle and Burnt Ash. In that respect, the changes do not even benefit cyclists.

Several women have reported to us that the quiet streets of the LTN makes them feel less safe at night, especially as it starts to get dark earlier, and many drive for personal safety (which is why the improved street lighting in Walthamstow was so interesting).

We still need School Streets inside the LTN. We still need a cycle lane inside the LTN. We still need to widen pavements inside the LTN. We still need places to store our bikes at home and at our destinations.

And ultimately, anyone who has to catch a bus usually has to walk down or wait on a main road, which is now more polluted. In these Covid times, with limited capacity for social distancing and every other bus allocated to schools, it can be quite the wait too.

If you look at Walthamstow Village, the increase in cycling inside the LTN was hard to measure due to the random nature of bike trips, but it perhaps totalled a few hundred extra daily cyclists. Meanwhile over a thousand cycle on the neighbouring main road every week day. The other Mini Holland schemes in Enfield and Kingston-upon-Thames have until recently eschewed modal filters in favour of concentrating on cycling infrastructure.

As for whether they discourage unnecessary journeys – yes, they probably do. To an extent. But given how horrendous driving in London is, I fear we’ll be surprised by how much London drivers are willing to put up with. It may also back fire and make local journeys less appealing and thus make journeys to destinations further away relatively more appealing – unnecessary or not.

It’s worth noting that the council claimed 60% of through traffic came from outside the area. Now the 40% of traffic which was inside the LTN is also adding to traffic on surrounding roads, in addition to the displaced non-local traffic.

60% of journeys in London are less than 2.5 miles

Note this figure is for ALL journeys in London – it includes public transport, and walking and cycling!

TFL analysis shows that after you adjust for age and disability, heavy or bulky loads and time of day, 22% of car journeys in London could be walked. This is based on data from 2007. It also states that 38% of car journeys could be cycled once adjusted in the same way, but that figure includes the 22% that could be walked.

If you take into account that this is a Greater London figure and that car ownership is much lower in our borough, it is reasonable to suggest journeys here may already be more optimised here than for outer London, and our potential is somewhat below these figures.

It’s not an insignificant amount, but given the council claimed 60% of through traffic was from outside the area, that suggests a maximum of 15% of car journeys being displaced that could be walked or cycled.

That 15% reduction could easily be undone by the remaining journeys having to take a 1-2 mile detour in standing traffic. Or from people choosing destinations further away in the opposite direction because they’re now more convenient.

It would be ironic if the LTN were to reduce the number of journeys under 2.5 miles by turning them all into journeys 4 miles long.

We are listening carefully to the feedback and will make changes in response to this.

The only changes being considered are more closures and more enforcement.

As demonstrated in the examples given, Lewisham Council (and especially local councillors) appear to only listen if the concerns fit their agenda. If you want more enforcement, or more roads closed, then you have their ear. Those seem to be the only changes they will consider.

But if you have concerns about the impact on residential main roads and for example think they need to change the scheme to be timed closures and/or ANPR access to reduce the impact on main roads, you get fobbed off. Ultimately any conversation they don’t like ends with “it’s a trial so we have to wait until the end” or “it’ll bed in”.

We have baseline measurements on traffic volumes and air quality…

The council does not have baselines for traffic volumes outside the LTN on the impacted roads. And air quality baselines for outside the LTN on impacted roads are seriously limited.

The three continuous monitoring sites (Aeroqual AQY – Micro Air Quality Stations) are all inside the LTN on filtered roads. The map produced to show monitoring implies the Manor Lane station is monitoring the main road, St Mildred’s, but it is at least 20 metres from the main road, so will only really be monitoring the junction for cars turning down Manor Lane (for which it’s arguably on the wrong side of the road).

The traffic volumes taken on surrounding roads in “June/July 2020” for 7 days were apparently carried out week commencing 29th June. The planters and road signs were installed week commencing 29th June. This is therefore not a baseline.

It would therefore be useful if the map distinguished which automatic counters have counts from March 2019 and which are counts from June/July 2020, and which have both.

The existing air quality diffusion tubes noted as being installed January 2019 do not appear to be present. It might be they are in the lab for analysis. Their readings are available in the 2019 Diffusion Tube report. It’s not clear if they are still in place to have provided January 2020 results, or indeed January 2021.

Ironically most of the badly affected roads are greyed out on the monitoring map. It would be useful if Lewisham would expand this map to include all the areas which the 2019 TFL modelling identified as being problematic, particularly south of the scheme.

It looks like there is a diffusion tube on Brownhill Road, and on Baring Road. The 2019 report notes that the highest annual mean NO2 concentration in the borough was measured “at the L51 site at 290 Brownhill Road, South Circular (44.9 µg/m3). The second highest annual mean NO2 concentration was measured at LWS017 site at Baring Road (41.0 µg/m3)“. The EU limit is 40.0 µg/m3.

To quote Lewisham Council’s own literature, a baseline should ideally be established from data collected at least three months, but ideally twelve months prior to the trial commencing. Not three months after.

It is expected that it will take time for drivers to adjust their behaviour in response to these changes.

We’re now 12 weeks into what we were initially told was a 2 week ‘bedding in period’. It took four years to see statistically significant changes to car use in Waltham Forest.

Originally councillors talked about a ‘2 week bedding in period’. We’re in the 12th week now! How much time is needed? Six months? A year? 18 months? Four years? Is this based on any evidence? Or the word of some lobbyists?

Studies in Walthamstow Village only started to show evidence of car ownership changing in 2019, four years after the modal filters were added. Until then there was very little difference, with studies showing there were roughly the same number of people using their car more than there were using their car less.

How much damage will be done to people living, working, learning, walking, cycling and waiting for busses on main and surrounding roads now suffering increased pollution and danger in the meantime? How long do we wait until we say “maybe it isn’t bedding in, maybe it’s just not working”?

We are confident that the impact on surrounding roads will ease and we will take steps to ensure it does.

What is the basis for this? Other schemes saw an 11% increase after a settling in period! What steps will the council take?

Why the confidence? What evidence is this based on? Why did a Lee Green councillor confirm that whilst she understood Walthamstow saw a 2-10% increase on main roads (it was actually 2.6-11.1% increase on boundary main roads), that “there is no expected increase for this LTN”?

Why would Walthamstow see an 11% increase and we wouldn’t? Are they over confident that the main roads are at capacity and thus can’t get any worse? Because that didn’t work out well for Hither Green Lane.

Did they do any modelling? Do they actually understand how the traffic flows locally? Some of these issues seem to have come as a surprise to the council, but were obvious for many local residents. Or did they know, but ploughed ahead anyway?

What steps will be taken? In our discussions you seem to have ruled out any compromise to the LTN, despite the recommendations of the EU Commission’s guide to do so. We think trying timed closures and/or ANPR access for Lewisham residents would lessen the impact on the surrounding roads and reduce unnecessary local detours.

But councillors think this won’t make driving inconvenient enough to force ‘modal shift’ to other forms of transport, so they won’t even entertain the idea. The only idea being entertained is to roll out more closures, which will only make our residential main roads worse.

We will be exploring the roll out of similar traffic reduction measures across the borough this autumn, including areas adjacent to the Lewisham and Lee Green LTN.

Two wrongs do not make a right. Expanding the LTN does nothing to solve the problem of traffic displacement onto our very residential main roads, which were never designed for this kind of traffic, and will just push the traffic onto other unsuitable roads in even less affluent areas.

Adding another LTN without addressing the issues caused by the current one may fix a couple of roads, but will continue to push the problem further into even less wealthy areas of Lewisham. And the thousands of people living on residential main roads such as Brownhill Road, St Mildred’s Road and Lee High Road will continue to see worse and worse traffic.

If you think the main roads can’t get any worse, just remember that’s what one Lee Green councillor said about Hither Green Lane before the Lee Green LTN went in!

This is yet another hint that the council have latched on to the “Hither Green West Village” proposal to fix the problem on the other side of the tracks (caused by the Lewisham and Lee Green LTN) by expanding the LTN to include Hither Green Lane.

Whilst a petition to filter Hither Green Lane managed to receive 738 signatures over the last few months, a petition to prevent Hither Green Lane being closed has received (at time of writing) 1,848 signatures and growing at a rate of 100 per day. But Lewisham Central councillors are of course only paying attention to the campaign which fits their agenda – classic confirmation bias.

We are also launching the first phase of our borough wide School Streets.

We welcome School Streets for the benefits they have to child safety but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence they are a traffic reduction measure.

We are pleased to see these School Street schemes starting to roll out. They solve the problem of making the streets around schools safer without causing displaced traffic on other roads 24 hours a day seven days a week. They help reduce the pollution where kids are congregating which is especially important with Covid (although we should also be demanding parents switch of their engines and not to idle in their cars!).

But whilst I imagine there would be a hope that they discourage parents making the school run in their car, it isn’t right to claim they are specifically a traffic reduction scheme.

TFL are due to implement a number of measures on the A21.

We welcome the improvements to cycling infrastructure on Lewisham High Street, and we are glad that the council apparently got TFL to agree not to include the bans on left turns from Ladywell and on right turns from Courthill Road, which would have either effectively cut Lewisham shopping centre off for a huge number of residents or would have required additional filtered roads to avoid causing cut through traffic. Either way it would have added a huge detour to local journeys, onto even more congestion roads, causing even more pollution.

We ask the council to share their plans for Burnt Ash Road / Hill, which we understand are subject to a secret bid to TFL for funding.

We also ask that the council lobby TFL for a radical rethink of both Lee High Road and Brownhill Road / St Mildred’s road. The junctions urgently need fixing as the additional displaced traffic is literally causing gridlock, and not just at rush hour. Whilst these roads are narrow, there is room for a segregated cycle lane if turning lanes are removed or reduced and some no left/right turns are considered at strategic points.

Some sections of Lee High Road desperately need the pavement widening, which may involve removing pedestrian refuges and changing the timing of lights accordingly. Parking and loading bays could be reduced at key pinch points, in favour of loading on side roads where appropriate.

Experts are clear that unless LTNs are implemented with complementary measures and an overall traffic reduction plan, they will be divisive…

Will these measures be permanent?

A resident of Hither Green Lane recently suggested to their local councillor that the quickest way to resolve the incredible amount of traffic on his road would be to suspend the scheme in Lee Green.

This was rebuffed on the grounds that whilst it would solve the problem at the southern end of Hither Green Lane, the northern end and Courthill Road is currently enjoying less traffic. The councillor feared it would “restore the thousands of vehicle movements up and down Ennersdale Road – and bringing back constant queues of traffic onto Eastdown Park adjacent to Gilmore Road”.

We don’t want to return to the status quo, but it has to be an option on the table in the event that the LTN is causing unacceptable harm and changes cannot be made. If councillors aren’t prepared to return to the status quo even in those circumstances, it’s not much of a trial. It doesn’t bode well for the end of the trial.

Those on the now filtered streets will fight tooth and nail to keep them like that. And some houses in the LTN are already being advertised for as being on “no through roads”!

As we have made clear on countless occasions, One Lewisham does not want to simply remove the filters and for everything to go back to normal. We want to move forward with compromise and dialogue.

We want a balanced traffic reduction programme – one which does not provide improvements for “leafy areas” at the expense of the residents of “main roads”. Capacity must be reallocated to the most needy, and the benefit should not solely go to the streets with some of the highest car ownership figures in the borough.

To do otherwise creates a huge social justice issue, and pushes an even greater divide between the haves and the have nots.

LTNs do not negate the need to improve alternatives. You can paint it orange as much as you like, but an LTN is a stick, not a carrot.

We are also still lacking any success criteria. How can it be a trial without measurable criteria defined up front? Listing the factors that may be considered is insufficient. Any room for a subjective decision needs to be removed. Criteria must be scored and weighted.

We were told there are too many factors involved for this to be decided up front, but this is precisely why it needs to be decided up front – otherwise it risks being fudged at the end.

We are deeply concerned that “commonplace” feedback may be included in the criteria for success, given this seems to be the factor that enabled Lee Green to be selected first despite appearing to score low on all other criteria.

Commonplace does not validate where people commenting and liking are based, so could easily be skewed by national campaigners.

We are also concerned that “stakeholder” feedback may be skewed towards the vocal and persistent campaigners who have been behind the roll out of these schemes across London and the UK, and who’s organisations receive hundreds of thousands of pounds from councils for consulting services on these very schemes.

And on the subject of Commonplace, it is not a suitable tool for reporting problems or concerns as it requires you to ‘suggest a scheme’ in specific location. You cannot raise an objection to the scheme simply being unjust or unfair – or frankly, ethically questionable given it turns residents into lab rats simply to prevent ‘rat running’.

As a closing note, we urge the council to agree that should (improved) monitoring show that pollution on main or surrounding roads has increased above safe levels, then the scheme must be suspended immediately pending urgent changes. How can they not agree to that…?

How to provide feedback on the Lewisham LTN plans

Many of you have shared your personal stories about the Lewisham Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) – whether it’s been affecting your business, your children’s SEN transport needs, the pollution on your road from diverted traffic, or the complete gridlock it’s caused which is adversely affecting your work and family life.

The authorities are listening to some of the voices, those who have been loud all the way through the consultation that most of us didn’t know about because we didn’t live on the right roads. Now it’s time for them to hear your voices.

Below are several ways to tell them what you think, what you want, and how you or your family have been affected.

Keep your feedback polite at all times – share your lived experience, how it makes you feel, and what the impact is on yourself or others.

NEW EMAIL ADDRESS

The Lewisham Mayor has now provided resource to handle comments and questions on LTN matters. Please email traffic@lewisham.gov.uk.

Submit questions to the next Lewisham Council meeting

A full Lewisham Council meeting is coming up soon, and YOU can put your questions to them, which then become part of the public record.

  • At a full council meeting, questions to the council from the public and councillors are accepted. They must be submitted in advance by email.
  • The next full council meeting will be on Wednesday November 25th.
  • The deadline for submission of questions is midnight Tuesday 10th November for the November meeting.
  • Please email your questions to kevin.flaherty@lewisham.gov.uk, head of governance.
  • A reply is sent by e-mail the day before the council meeting and usually one is allowed a supplementary question.
“Commonplace”
Email and twitter for Councillors, MPs, etc
Submit a complaint about a councillor

If you have a complaint about the conduct of a Lewisham councillor, check the Member Code of Conduct, then write to the Monitoring Committee as per the Procedure for handling complaints of breach of the Member Code of Conduct.

Complaints should be made in writing (including by fax or email) to the Monitoring Officer, LB Lewisham, Town Hall, Catford, London SE6 4RU (fax no 0208 314 3107); email monitoring.officer@lewisham.gov.uk . Complaints may be made using the Ethics Complaint Form available on the Council’s website, and from the Monitoring Officer. If a complainant find it hard to put their complaint in writing, Council staff will help them to do so. The Council will make reasonable adjustments to help a disabled complainant.

As a cyclist, Lewisham’s scheme helps no one.

Lewisham’s LTNs from the perspective of a Hither Green resident who rides a bike, walks, uses public transport and sometimes drives.

What I am concerned about   

I believe that Low Traffic Neighbourhoods can contribute to promoting the Council’s stated aims for the C19 temporary schemes of encouraging more cycling, walking and of reducing unnecessary car journeys.  

However, I don’t think that the way they have been set up in Lewisham will do that. In my view the schemes the Council have set up are ill considered, poorly delivered, and have given no attention to the knock on effect for people living in the surrounding areas. 

I’ve ridden a bike almost every day for 40 years (commuting, racing and family leisure use and for a while as a courier). I am also a pedestrian, driver and use public transport so I think I have a relatively rounded view on the issue of traffic and personal transport choice informed by some experience, over the long term.

In my area, traffic that previously moved with relative ease through the LTNs in Lee Green has been displaced to Hither Green Lane. It now causes congestion and tailback with associated noise and diminished air quality for residents there. That’s socially divisive, a waste of public money and not sustainable. 

It’s very easy to see the negative impact of the Lee Green scheme on surrounding roads in hard terms (additional traffic volumes, number of resident complaints, noise and pollution). I have been asking the Council to show me quantifiable evidence of the declared positive impact for Lewisham of increased, sustained bike use or walking, and reduced car use. 

They haven’t provided it. I don’t think they can because the scheme has not been set up in a way that will deliver a positive impact that can actually be measured other than for those few residents who wanted their roads closed to all through traffic.

Why the scheme will not deliver a positive impact

I have a lot of experience of cycling in UK new-town, North European and North American cycle traffic management schemes. I don’t think that our local schemes consisting of planters with hurriedly assembled road signage and camera actuated penalties will achieve what deliberately considered and sensitive schemes such as these can do to balance car and non car transport use. This is largely by default of our historic road and residential configuration, traffic volumes and dominant traffic flows (arterial and secondary-arterial) through the Borough and culture. In other countries where things are planned to work well, mixed mode transport is a default of the design and build of townscapes, not a bolt on. 

Having done some research, I don’t think the model of modal shift and the related concept of traffic “evaporation” are a proven and reliable foundation for the schemes. What might seem to work in one area does not necessarily stretch to another. Each area has different transport infrastructure, traffic flows and places for displaced traffic to go to. Moreover, with dynamic sat-nav and real time journey planning, driver behaviour cannot be predicted in the same way as it was when some of the model schemes used by Lewisham were introduced and evaluated. Putting in place interventions to modify entrenched traffic patterns and driver behaviour is altogether a more nuanced and specific task than Lewisham’s LTNs is set up to deliver.

The One Lewisham website is a very good source of the challenge to the Lewisham rationale for introducing the C19 LTNs. It has been set up by residents like me who are concerned that not enough thought and proper resident engagement has been put in to make them effective.

My suggestions for what should be done 

The Council say they have introduced the C19 schemes to safeguard public health by promoting walking, cycling and reducing car use. 

Speaking as a regular cyclist, pedestrian and less regular driver perspective, the LTN approach of closing roads off and hoping for the best that traffic will stop coming to Lewisham and that people will automatically take up cycling and walking more will not work. Quite apart from being introduced without understanding where traffic will be displaced to, the schemes do not bring concrete measures that could support the modal shift to cycling and walking as options in themselves, or as alternatives to driving. So, failure is built into the design and delivery from the outset. 

I think that what the Council have said that they want to achieve, is more likely to succeed by doing the following: 

  1. clearly marking cycle lanes on roads and, if appropriate, on pavements
  2. buddy schemes for new cyclists to build their confidence
  3. free or subsidised cycle proficiency training
  4. secure communal bike stores and racks
  5. more safe points for pedestrians to cross roads
  6. road safety education for all
  7. smart information boards on signposts to regulate driver speed
  8. regulation of car use near schools during school run hours
  9. more buses, especially during the C19 period
  10. engage with local residents to understand why they actually use their cars the way they do (especially school run drivers) 
  11. a demand for a regional review of and changes to the way in which our arterial roads move traffic through the area

Ideas 1-9 are framed within what the actual transport infrastructure can realistically deliver for all modes of transport without provoking the system failure (additional congestion and pollution) that we are seeing now with the Lee Green LTN. 10 is about generating insight about actual use of cars by residents in order to tailor options and messaging to encourage assent to behaviour change.

11 is the real strategic clincher, though, as the flow of traffic through the Borough along the arterials is the primary cause of the use of smaller residential roads as alternatives when the arterial roads get blocked or are slow moving. 

1 to 4 are options that would have been of interest to me when I started using a bike to commute to work back in the late 20th Century as they are about making the choice of cycling a bit more convenient and safer! 

Bringing people along 

I don’t see my local community of Hither Green as anything like the late 19th Century Victorian suburb it was set up to be. Things have moved on since most of our houses and streets were built. The lived experience, in the early 21st Century, of the majority of residents is about balancing a lot of competing priorities like work (sometimes a number of jobs in the same day), getting children to school (sometimes different schools), going to the shops to do a large weekly shop for a family, visiting the hospital and doctor, generally living their individual lives, managing their homes, running businesses that people and suppliers can get to. The mode of transport people choose to do these and many other different things will be driven by what they have the ability, time and resource for and what the transport infrastructure will support. 

I don’t think it is reasonable for the wishes of a few to dictate how the many will live and that’s where the C19 LTNs are really going wrong. The rationale for the “road-closure-and-camera-actuated-sanction” LTN model is that people all share the same mindset, values, resource and would be instantly willing and able to switch from, what they presently do now out of choice, to what a few think is good for them and because that choice has been removed. Life isn’t like that. If people are being asked to make a different choice then that choice has to be an easier, more attractive alternative to what they are choosing to do now. Otherwise why should they change? Closing off or making a current choice hard does not guarantee change. it is more likely to provoke resistance, challenge and continuation by any means of what people have always done.  

I am really worried by the C19 LTNs. Since they started, parts of the Borough now live with a level of disadvantage as a result of the schemes that they do not have any choice to live with. This is unlike some of the residents of the LTN scheme areas who presumably took the traffic flows in their area into account as part of their due diligence when they first moved into their homes. They had a choice then, residents in areas where traffic has been displaced do not have a choice now and that is unfair and divisive. This is especially disappointing given that there are alternative ways to achieve the Council’s aims for the C19 LTN scheme, as I have listed above. Yes, these are more time consuming and practically complex to introduce but they would stand a much better chance of actually working over the longer term once the temporary period for the C19 LTNs comes to an end.

If the council are unable to make its objectives and approach clear, in a way which is actually measurable and fair, then perhaps the Lewisham Lee Green LTN trial should be temporarily and immediately suspended until they can do so. This is simply what the council (successfully) demanded of TFL and their A21 Streetscape scheme.

The introduction of the Lewisham Lee Green scheme has not been properly mandated by the Council in conjunction with the community. It generates a quantifiable negative impact over a wide area that far outweighs the unquantified and non-verifiable positive impact that is claimed for it by local councillors, other advocates and a very small number of residents in a very limited number of roads.   

TFL have seen fit to revise the Streetscape scheme proposals for the A21 in the light of community and stakeholder objection. Other Councils are now standing down their C19 schemes in light of challenge from their residents. I’d like to see Lewisham adopt the same maturity and humility of approach, particularly with the Lee Green LTN. The Council should have a bit of a rethink and talk to all residents potentially affected and with a real stake in making traffic work in this Borough.

When LTNs go wrong: a recipe for disharmony

In the eight years I’ve enjoyed living here, I feel like this is our community’s darkest hour. I am of course referring to the half implemented omni-shambles of the Lewisham Lee Green ‘Lower Traffic Neighbourhood’ (LTN). You only need to scan through local social media channels to get a sense of the frustration, exasperation and division this community is now suffering from.

How has it come to this? How are we in a situation where once cordial relationships between seemingly like-minded neighbours have been reduced to furtive glances, where one part of the community gets all the benefits at the expense of another, all thanks to the positioning of a few dozen plant pots?

Well, as the weeks have passed since the LTN’s (partial) inception, the politically muddy waters have started to clear. Concerned residents that were initially taken aback by the LTN’s COVID-19 inspired arrival are now mobilising, doing their own quality research and seeking change that benefits the many, not the few.

This group is OneLewisham.

So let’s start with how we got here. How is a traffic scheme which does more harm than good now in our midst? For this, I will use the analogy of baking – an ‘LTN pie’ – if you will,
and here I set out the key ingredients.

Councillors that ‘know what’s best for you’ – they are a well-intentioned bunch, our councillors, I have no doubt. But, are they representing the people to the council – as they should – or are they merely representing the council to the people? There is a litany of
evidence to suggest that rather than listen to the concerns of residents over this scheme, they are in fact part of its propaganda machine. Blind eyes have been turned to desperate residents facing displaced traffic, while photos ‘proving’ success or at least no sign of a negative impact are posted on social media. The councillors are not employed by LTNs, are they?

Rush it through – The plan for the LTN has been on the radar for some time, long before COVID-19 rocked up. Bizarrely, however, the challenges posed by COVID-19 brought about a not insubstantial pot of government funding to pay for emergency measures promoting active travel and social distancing. Suddenly, there was the opportunity! No need for proper consultation or modelling, or anything which might slow down or prevent the LTN’s arrival. There was ‘use it or lose it’ funding now – and Lewisham council sure used it. The LTN doesn’t promote social distancing, does it?

Selective hearing – The councillors didn’t just wake up one morning with an LTN eureka moment. The arrival of the LTN reflects ongoing lobbying of a very small number of individuals whose opinions are seemingly worth far more than anyone else’s. There is evidence to suggest that Lewisham Cycling, and more specifically several core members, have had a huge role in not only desiring an LTN, but also in dictating its form. As a result, any other valid concerns around local traffic – such as rat-running and speeding, are presented with the LTN as a solution, when in fact there are all sorts of other measures that could be employed without walling-in several thousand households to outside traffic. Cyclists are not all transport planners, are they?

Policy based evidence, not evidence based policy – the most obvious issue around LTNs is that, by preventing through traffic, it simply displaces it elsewhere, adding to existing congestion and pollution etc. Fortunately, for the proponents of the LTN, there is a theory called ‘traffic evaporation’. The idea is that after a period of initial disruption, traffic simply ‘evaporates’. This removes any concerns that environmentalists and those purporting to be concerned by social justice may have otherwise had. But it’s not that simple. It’s not a silver bullet.

According to the research which originally proved the phenomenon in 1998, mileage may vary: “every scheme to reallocate roadspace is different, and so the effects of any plan will be highly dependent on individual circumstances“. It doesn’t always happen. And when it does, evaporation is far from absolute – to quote the co-author “In most cases the traffic went down on the treated road and up on the alternative routes. The reductions were bigger than the increases, ie traffic evaporation was not complete.” – in the case studies, on average 86% of traffic was diverted on surrounding roads. In our area, those are residential roads.

And, in the long term, researchers found that without improvements to alternatives, traffic could return to previous or even higher levels. As the co-author of the study recently noted, “The evidence supports those critics who complain that traffic on their road has increased, even if the total has gone down. This does often happen and requires further action. It proves that small local schemes need to be supported by a wider policy framework“.

And we know that Waltham Forest was held up as an example, with Lewisham Cycling kindly taking our councillors on a tour. I’m sure on the tour they told our councillors that Waltham Forest council’s own research, as well as a peer reviewed study, found that there was no evidence either way of car usage changing. There was a marked improvement in active travel, but according to council research, residents valued the LTN (modal filters) the least out of the many measures implement there. And whilst “Mini Holland” reports showed traffic in a small area reducing, surrounding roads saw increased traffic, and the whole area has seen an increase in traffic compared to surrounding areas.

So there are the ingredients of the LTN. Love it or hate it, it’s certainly proven extremely divisive across our lovely community.

So what about OneLewisham? What are we all about? To some of the more cynical and closed-minded LTN proponents out there, we are essentially in league with the devil, wanting a return to get back in our gas guzzlers and cut through this way and that at our leisure. We’ve been accused of being part of the car lobby, funded by Shell or Land Rover, of being secret taxi drivers, or being people who drive their kids 500 metres to school every day. We’re told we just don’t want change, and we liked the status quo. But none of this is true. For starters, the group was founded by Jane, who doesn’t have access to a car!

The thing that binds us together is our collective position that this scheme – as it stands – is deeply flawed. This is not simply based on scenes of congestion around its perimeter, but by weeks of discussion, fact-checking and literature review. That doesn’t mean we want to keep things the way they were – we just don’t want a scheme which makes things worse.

We care about pollution. We care about tackling speeding. We care about community cohesion. We care about social justice. But, in its current form, this scheme is unlikely to deliver on any of these valid principles.

Yes, our ranks include drivers of cars (homes inside the LTN have amongst the highest rates of car ownership in Lewisham, according to the last census data, funnily enough), but also keen cyclists, concerned business owners and regular users of public transport. Some of us are inside the LTN, others are outside.

Our politics are diverse but we are united in our concerns. We believe our elected representatives must be held to account and more equitable solutions must be sought over what we currently have.

In the coming weeks, OneLewisham will be setting its own position on better solutions to dealing with traffic in our part of South East London. We are not road planners or traffic experts, but we will do our best to explain our vision, that there is a better way. We are a welcoming group and would love to hear any of ideas that you may have on how this scheme might be improved for the many, and not the few. Please check out our Facebook page or our Twitter.

Ollie, member of OneLewisham

The impact on mobile businesses

My name is Suki Chung, I’m a mobile massage therapist and a sole trader.

The current road closures are definitely having a negative impact on my business. I have built my business up for the last 15 years and it allows me to have somewhat of a work life balance. It enables me to provide for my kids while also having time to attend the all important school events that come along frequently. While I can’t always attend those, I can make some of them which is hugely important to myself and my kids.

The current road closures have meant that I can no longer utilise the roads as roads. They are a maze. I used to allow up to 45 minutes between clients, but I’ve had to increase that to an hour or an hour and 15 minutes depending on where clients are based.

What does this mean to me? It means less clients I can see in a day and on top of not working for nearly 4 months because of the pandemic, it’s hit me hard. The drop in income is significant.

Many of my clients see me for long term chronic medical issues and massage helps them manage their pain levels, so they are not on increasing amounts of stronger and stronger pain killers. These are not frivolous treatments of ‘ladies that lunch’, but a way for people to stay out of pain.

It seems insanely unfair that so few people benefit from the road closures, I personally can’t whizz round on a bike with a massage couch and a suitcase full of kit with me.

Even clients on the roads that are benefiting from the eased traffic think its ridiculous and unfair.

Most of us walk where we can, but people like me, tradespeople, people with disabilities and a myriad of others can’t just walk or ride a bike for whatever reason.

It’s so badly thought out, forcing traffic onto the already busy roads increasing pollution to people living there. What about their health? Traffic unfortunately doesn’t just disappear in a puff of smoke because there are road closures, we still have to get where we’re going, we just sit idling in traffic for longer periods of time, thus probably causing more pollution, not less.

These are the views of a local resident who is not part of the group behind the One Lewisham campaign. We are using our blog to highlight local voices who have concerns or are personally impacted by the LTN as implemented. To share your own story, drop us an email. For more on One Lewisham’s campaign goals see Our Mission. Register as a support and sign up to our newsletter here, or ‘like’ our Facebook page.

Response to Make Lee Green’s ‘mythbuster’ (part 1)

Local group Make Lee Green have published a ‘mythbuster‘ and FAQ regarding the Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood. Whilst some of their post is correct, there are number of issues we would like to point out.

“Looking at the overall road network those roads that are suitable for carrying non-local traffic (the A and B roads) are identified.”

In our area these so called main roads are not suitable. In many cases they’re no wider than the streets inside the low traffic neighbourhoods – the only difference being one is lined with parked cars. They are also heavily residential roads. In fact our analysis using data from Zoopla suggests there may be more homes on the roads surrounding the Lee Green LTN than on the roads inside which benefit.

See for yourself. One of these, the A205, is actually South London’s “ring road”!

This is not the case in other areas where LTNs have been successful. Compare the “ring roads” in particular. Now these are roads that are suitable for carrying non-local traffic. Ours are more suitable for the horses and carts they were designed for!

Why Lee Green? Lee Green was identified following consultation in 2018 for Lewisham Council’s Transport Strategy as an area where a significant number of residents had responded requesting measures to deal with through motor traffic on the back of another resident lead campaign.

This may have been the original reason for the scheme being kicked off here, but the scheme has not been brought in as per the consulted design – it has specifically been introduced using a temporary traffic order “for reasons related to Coronavirus”.

The Lewisham Council “traffic reduction programme (healthy neighbourhoods)” clearly states that the priority order, with “Lewisham and Lee Green” first, was decided on a number of factors, including:

  • personal injury collisions
  • air quality
  • levels of obesity and deprivation
  • the feedback from their borough-wide Commonplace consultation

More information on the criteria is included in their Transport strategy and local implementation plan (which predates Coronavirus). In this document they list the criteria as personal injury collisions, levels of obesity in an area, air quality levels, asthma levels in the community, levels of deprivation, School Travel Plan (STP) accreditation level, public transport accessibility (PTAL) and car/van availability, LIP public consultation feedback, and pre-existing local community support and action.

Having checked publicly available data we are unable to understand how the Lee Green LTN ‘zone’ could possibly score highly on most of these criteria compared to neighbouring zones. The above comment on the Lee Green blog seems to confirm suspicions that the “pre-existing local community support and action” trumped all other factors, leading some to wonder if the real criteria was which area had the ‘sharpest elbowed’ campaigners.

We have asked our Lee Green councillor to provide the scores for our area and others, but he said he was not privy to this information and referred us to the Highways team, who we have emailed. If we do not get a prompt response we will be forced to waste time and money with a freedom of information request.

“COVID-19 is being used as an excuse to put this in”

It is literally being used as an excuse to put it in, using a temporary traffic order “for reasons related to Coronavirus”. If it is not for reasons related to Coronavirus then its implementation is invalid. The fact there were previous plans is moot – that budget has been halted, and plans changed.

We fail to see how the LTN alone does anything to help with social distancing. As Lee Green themselves point out, the roads are not closed. They haven’t been pedestrianised, you cannot walk down the middle of them. Pavements remain narrow, especially on bin days. Main roads such as Lee High Road are particularly bad for narrow pavements. If anything, the LTN is a distraction from implementing effective Covid Secure measures in the area.

“What is more, less than half of Lewisham households have access to a car (as few as 30% in some wards in the north of the borough).”

This is very true. But it is far from true for the ward which has been selected first for a low traffic neighbourhood! As you can see from the map below, car ownership is high inside the LTN (red) and low outside (green). So the streets with high car ownership get to drive their cars whilst also enjoying quiet streets, whilst traffic builds up on surrounding lower-car owning neighbourhoods – especially to the west – and on to residential main roads.

“Are these schemes going to be made permanent? Although the Temporary Traffic Orders enable the Council to maintain the changes for up to 18 months, it is expected that regular reviews will be carried out by the Council and an initial decision as to the success of the scheme might be reached in around 6 months.” 

The council has not stated what criteria will be used to determine if the trial is a success, despite councillors being asked. They are not measuring the impact on the surrounding main roads to see what the negative effects are. How will they reach a decision on the success of the scheme without proper measurement and clear objectives and key performance indicators?

Why not just deal with the problem roads and leave the rest open? Problem traffic is often concentrated on a few roads within a neighbourhood but simply blocking these just shifts the problem. As many as 80% of London drivers now use Satnavs so will immediately be rerouted around a single closure.”

We’re glad that Make Lee Green recognises that “traffic evaporation” is not absolute, especially in our world of sat navs. We agree that closing roads just shifts the problem. In our case it shifts the problem into other neighbourhoods such as Hither Green West and on to residential main roads.

Some have suggested that the solution is more LTNs, and that the scheme should be extended into Hither Green West. We are concerned that this will just shift the problem, creating even more problems for our residential main roads which were never designed to handle this amount of traffic. The residents of Hither Green also have to deal with the changes TFL are making to the A21 on one of their boundaries, which effectively creates a one-way system for them by making certain roads exit only and preventing certain turns on others. It seems unlikely that TFL would allow Hither Green Lane to be closed to through traffic as a result.

We support LTNs but only as part of a coordinated response to reduce traffic for all, not for a select few – see our mission for more information. We also ask for some modifications to the scheme to allow permitted vehicles such as local residents to use their own streets, via the ANPR as per a similar scheme in Fulham. This would enable the objective of reducing through traffic and ‘rat runs’ to be achieved, without adding even more additional traffic to the surrounding roads by adding unnecessary 2 kilometre detours which may actually encourage residents to shop further afield.

I live in the next neighbourhood – this is just going to make my area worse. It’s simply not possible to change the entire borough at once.”

We agree it is not possible to implement LTNs across the entire borough at once. That is why we are calling on the council to ensure that LTNs for each area are implemented alongside other measures for improving the alternatives. Or for them to consider options which are less of a ‘blunt instrument’ to achieve the goals – especially to enable social distancing.

It is only by improving alternatives which reduce car ownership that long term change can be achieved. For example, we would welcome the careful reduction of on-street parking if it allowed better cycle routes and pedestrian access, and the addition of cycle storage bays.

It’s just for the benefit of a few rich residents.

Here’s the area’s deprivation map (red is high deprivation). Look at the area getting quiet streets, and look where the traffic is being pushed to. Of course there are some pockets of social housing inside the scheme, but these are already on quiet cul de sacs. The main beneficiaries are in dark green.

It’s only going to benefit people who already cycle

We believe the benefit to cycling of closing these particular streets is low. Whilst some streets are quieter, others have always been quiet. There are still cars with local access, delivery vans, and motorbikes, there are still stretches with parked cars on both sides, and there is no cycling infrastructure to protect you. Also, other than a few specific routes, most routes in and out of the area involve having to cycle down one of the busy polluted main roads, even for a short length, which also have little or no cycling provision. It’s easy to see why many people would still not feel comfortable cycling, when we are hemmed in by these roads.

(We did note with interest that one of those specific cycleable routes would be the route through what is now the Lewisham Lee Gren LTN taken by a particularly prominent LTN campaigner who lives outside the immediate area. )

Cycling infrastructure on the main roads may change that. Cycling infrastructure inside the LTN would also help. Sadly due to the train line and River Quaggy any ‘quiet ways’ through back streets would be very indirect, which is a problem when you’re under your own steam, which is why the main roads are so critical in our area.

Emergency Services will be delayed

The College of Paramedics say they worry road closures could hamper 999 emergency response times. Whilst the Lee Green LTN may have involved emergency services consultation as it was an ‘off the shelf’ pre-existing plan, it’s clear some of these schemes are bypassing normal processes under cover of ‘covid emergency’. It’s impossible even for us to keep up with routes (especially given the council has failed to properly update Google Maps with road closures!), so when schemes start interacting – especially the TFL streetscape plans like the A21 – how will emergency services keep up?

Road closures should only be for rush hour and certain times of the day. Filters would need to be designed in an ‘open state’ and would require drivers to obey signs in not passing through them. Evidence shows that compliance with these types of modal filters is low and having camera enforcement on every single filter in this way is not financially viable. “

We were originally told this would not be possible as it would require ANPR cameras, but the scheme has actually been implemented with four ANPR cameras. The trial has been put in using the fewest number of filters possible, and should the trial be successful then we imagine streets would be filtered in different positions eg at each main road junction. That is a discussion for another day.

During the trial it would be acceptable to open only those filters with cameras either to permitted vehicles (as per Fulham) or certain times of day (as per many in Waltham Forest). This would reduce the impact on surrounding main road and gain more buy-in from residents, whilst preventing problematic through traffic.

If the trial is measured correctly and the impact on main roads is below problematic levels, and other objectives such as active travel are not as high as desired, then at a later day restrictions could be further imposed.

Below is a Waltham Forest filter. Note the widened pavements, better signage, and improved pedestrian crossing and road raising.

“Initial figures from the Walthamstow Village area show traffic levels on main roads have increased by between 3% and 11%, but the number of vehicles in filtered roads has decreased by 56%. ” 

The initial figures (better link with actual data) and subsequent updates have not been subject to any statistical rigour and are a classic case of a council marking their own homework.

  1. They note that this analysis “does not represent all roads in the area“. They promised subsequent more detailed analysis “including the impact on the main road network“. However, whilst the detailed analysis has happened, anything about the impact on main road analysis continues is conspicuous by its absence. We have been told by somebody who was given a guided tour by Mini Holland advocates that once the main road traffic is included the picture is more “mixed”.
  2. The before and after were measured over completely different time periods, which would see differing seasonal traffic, for which no adjustment has been made.
  3. There is no attempt to remove the effects of wider trends, eg by comparing against London wide traffic.
  4. They (like Lewisham plan to) have largely only measured roads inside the scheme, and only 12 of them. They measured three surrounding roads, but only in one place which allows for a number of journeys to go un-captured. They did not measure the bordering road to the North.
  5. They have added up counts on roads inside the scheme, which will clearly be counting the same cars twice. It’s hard to analyse routes without the raw data and with most streets missing data, but an example one route heading north-south from Copeland Road saw a reduction of 2556 cars.
  6. Some of comments in the detailed 2016 analysis, that data may have been skewed for a particular hour of the day by a car parked on the counting equipment, seem to suggest that traffic counts on the surrounding roads may have been conducted on a single day. This raises the question whether counts were taken on the same day of the week, and how robust measurement from such a short time period could be. It would leave it open to cherry picking.

Here’s an example of a local journey in Waltham Forest, compared with the roads they counted. As you can see it totally bypasses their three roads even though it seems likely the previous shortest route would have been through what is now the LTN. This which shows why counting traffic over a wider area is critical.

We have seen this in action in Lee Green, where Google Maps is routing traffic as far as Blackheath Village and the Clifton Roundabout to avoid now gridlocked junctions!

Here is a chart covering traffic (in vehicle kilometres) for the whole Waltham Forest borough, using data produced by the Department of Transport, compared against London wide trends. Next to it are the NO2 readings from the nearest continuous monitoring point at Crooked Billet roundabout (in red), overlaid with the average measurements across the whole of London (blue).

We’re not saying Waltham Forest Mini Holland hasn’t been a success and hasn’t massively benefited those inside the scheme. It does seem to have improved active travel, even if there’s no evidence of reduced car use for residents. But remember, this was a scheme which didn’t simply closed roads, there was significant investment in other improvements – and they also have surrounding non-residential main roads that are actually designed to take traffic.

Traffic isn’t just going to disappear – to reduce congestion we need more space for motor vehicles, not less

We completely agree that traffic evaporation is possible. But is it not a given, especially in the long term. According to research it can ultimately result in people moving homes or jobs. And reducing space for some but not for others creates a social justice problem. Note that traffic experts concur with us that improvements to alternatives are required to avoid traffic returning to previous or even higher levels.

That’s all we have time for right now, more will follow….

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