Low-traffic neighborhoods increase cycling, reduce car use and make roads safer, but municipalities could do more to make the schemes more tasty and understandable to locals, concludes the most thorough study of the concept to date.
The report from the Center for the London think tank on the interventions, which use plant boxes or other filters to stop through traffic with motor vehicles on smaller residential streets, also found no evidence that they benefited richer people disproportionately much.
But the study, which combined traffic data with direct evidence from officials involved in LTNs, said the fact that many were implemented on a trial basis during lockdown meant there was sometimes a lack of consultation, as well as childhood illnesses that could have been avoided.
It recommends that councils seek to better reach out to communities ahead of future projects and seek to depoliticize the issue, with an idea of using a term other than LTN, one that is not linked to the wave of schemes introduced in 2020, such as ” healthy neighborhoods ”or“ quiet neighborhoods ”.
The report only covers London, but has lessons for other areas, as the capital has seen the majority of recent LTNs implemented, as well as much of the political controversy over their impact.
Data collected from 10 schemes in the report showed that within their limits, bicycle consumption increased by between 31% and 172%, while car traffic decreased by between 22% and 76%. There was also strong evidence that they reduced the number of traffic injuries.
A frequent criticism of LTNs is that they are simply pushing car use to the periphery, to more busy highways. The study found some signs of an increasing number of cyclists outside the LTNs, while car use also mainly declined slightly, although one area saw a 7% increase.
But overall, the authors said, the evidence of possible traffic disruption was mixed. They said it would be best to continue with LTNs, but also to introduce additional measures such as road prices and protected cycle paths.
They also said they had not found evidence that LTNs lowered response times for emergency vehicles, or that the schemes benefited disproportionately richer areas, and said that people living within LTN limits tended to have a similar demographic profile as those on border roads.
While the basic idea of filtering residential streets to restrict rat-running traffic has existed in various forms for decades, the bustle of Covid-era LTNs caused the problem to become highly politicized, especially in London, with protest groups popping up. up.
Among a number of recommendations, the report said councils should try to make schemes as comprehensive as possible to limit traffic disruption and try to make them appealing by adding elements such as benches and wider sidewalks.
To keep locals indoors, it added, local authorities could allow a period of delay before fining people for violating LTN rules, reaching out to multiple groups, but also being “picky” about whether people who claimed to represent a significant number of opponents, really did it.
The report highlighted the broader need for action, noting that although overall car ownership in London had declined in recent years, a combination of satellite navigation apps, Uber-type cabs and more home deliveries had nearly doubled the number of kilometers driven on the capital’s smaller roads. in the decade from 2009.
Nicolas Bosetti of the Center for London, lead author of the report, said the evidence showed that LTNs could be effective, “but that does not mean they should be done cheaply”.
He said: “They should also be complemented by additional measures that discourage driving private cars and provide practical alternatives for both short and long journeys. This means funds for nicer streets, protected cycle paths and additional measures such as car scrapping schemes and mobility credits as well as improved public transport.”