All over London and elsewhere, local borough councils have taken the opportunity during the Covid crisis to bring in LTNs, the main tool to force motorised traffic off of the streets.
Islington BC is a microcosm of this, introducing seven LTNs under the cover of Covid. I don’t have to tell anyone how devastating that has been for the cab trade. The whole area bounded by Old St roundabout, going up New North Rd, right along Essex Road, then up to Highbury Corner, along through to the Angel and back down to Old St roundabout is now a no-go area for motors. Apart from a couple of main drags through the middle, wherever you go inside this perimeter, you are forced to come back out the same way, increasing the meter on a fare by almost double at times.
Islington say that one of the justifications for their LTN is that local traffic flows in London increased by 72% between 2009-19. However, according to the DoT, London traffic flows increased in this period from 18.7 to 22.6 billion vehicles. That is a 21% increase. OK, that a big increase but it’s a long way short of 72%.
These LTNs are supposedly 18 month long trials to see if they are viable but we all know that is baldocks; it’s usually a case of wait18 months, carry out the trials and then make the experiment permanent.
Islington carried out their first evaluations last October and everything in the garden was rosy. The residents loved them, traffic flows on Holloway Rd – don’t laugh – decreased by 42% and the two TLNs evaluated by Islington’s in-house Project Centre showed a significant reduction in air pollution from traffic.
Those happy residents kicked off so badly that the council had to engage Systra, an independent consulting group, to re-evaluate the findings. They were published this month and found that general air pollution from traffic had increased by a whopping 26% rather than a reduction. Outside Highbury School the kids will need gas masks before the end of the trials as the pollution level has increased by almost half at 44%.
Results are so poor in Greenwich that they have scrapped their town centre scheme.
We shouldn’t get too excited though. We all know these LTNs are crackpot schemes. The evidence so far is confirming that view. However, we know equally that central government and Khan the Clippie, aided by the cycle lobby, are not beyond ignoring the evidence and making these lunatic schemes permanent. We can only hope that common sense prevails.