While I strongly support LTNs I do also have great sympathy for people who live on main roads, and always have done. Major thoroughfares have always been noisy and polluted, and the situation has been getting steadily worse for as long as I can remember (and I’m not young), due to the inexorable increase in traffic.
The impact of LTNs on the boundary roads may initially be significant but, as has been proven time and time again, after the satnavs and the drivers have understood the new situation, many drivers change their habits, new travel patterns are formed and some car journeys are shifted to other modes, or out of the busy periods. Traffic on most boundary roads normally drops to levels below those before the LTN was introduced. Our traffic FAQ has more information. That’s what normally happens, but we are living in extraordinary times: the pandemic has caused huge disturbances in travel patterns.
Initially everyone just stopped travelling at all. Now many people are reluctant to use public transport and those with cars are using them instead. This is exacerbated by a change in shopping patterns, with many more purchases being delivered by couriers. This shopping change was already happening but the pandemic has greatly accelerated it. All this explains what research shows: that traffic levels, across the UK, are now above pre-pandemic levels. So LTNs are still having their beneficial effect, reducing traffic levels overall, but the pandemic effect is counterbalancing that. Without LTNs there would be even more traffic overall and the traffic on the main roads would be worse than it is now.
Certainly, there are too many cars on our main roads and more must be done to reduce the number of journeys done by car. It is particularly frustrating when buses are held up. The bus easily outstrips tube and rail as the main mode of transport for Londoners – even more so among disabled people, those with mobility problems and the poorest residents. But sit at the front on the top deck and you often see that the reason the bus is not moving is because it’s blocked by a badly positioned car or van. I would suggest that prioritising buses would be a good place to start on main roads – extend the hours of bus lanes, enforce the lanes and fine any drivers who delay buses. Trouble is, many of these roads are not managed by local Councils, but by TfL. The Council needs to put pressure on TfL to prioritise buses beyond the rather half-hearted regime currently in place.
Published in Islington Gazette on 23 June 2021
Published in Islington Tribune on 24 June 2021