We hear this a lot about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. So let’s examine this issue.
Though most people in Croydon North didn’t vote for this government, we have to concede it won the election. So it must be quite hard to argue that one of the governments’ key projects it has delivered is not democratic.
As we enter Walk to School Week, and look ahead to Clean Air Day on Thursday 8th October, I thought it would be good to assess where we are now and what the next steps might be for our local area.
Following lockdown, it’s widely acknowledged that we, as a community, cannot allow life to return to how it was. We all got to experience cleaner air and a new way of moving around. Even pre-Covid we faced an environmental catastrophe, there were critical levels of localised pollution1, and we were already in a serious health crisis (obesity)2.
The Department for Transport has recently (27 July 2020) published a document that “sets out a vision for a travel revolution in England’s streets, towns and communities”. It is well worth reading in its entirety but for busy people, here’s a synopsis mainly using the graphics from the document.
I wrote this article two years ago, but think it is really relevant today. I have spent the last five years promoting active travel (walking, cycling and scooting) to families in Southwark where I teach. I have learned a great deal in my role as a Healthy Schools Champion, not least about why we do – or don’t – see as many families making healthy travel choices as we would hope for.
Since then, I have founded the Croydon Living Streets Group and during last year’s Walk to School Week we worked with our neighbours at Love Lane Green in South Norwood to celebrate our pocket parks as green walking and cycling routes. This year’s Walk to School Week is coming up on October 5th and we will be celebrating how Croydon’s StreetSpace project is helping families make healthy travel choices. Please follow us on Twitter @CroydonLiving and join us in celebrating our new healthy streets.
My name is Jolyon Roberts and along with my colleague, Lynne Sampson, I am one of the two Executive Headteachers of the Pegasus Academy Trust which runs six local schools, including Cypress Primary in Upper Norwood. I have been asked to contribute to this blog in order to describe both the benefits and the repercussions of recent traffic changes on our school, the families who attend and the staff that work there.
I have thought careful about what to write here, or indeed whether I should write anything at all, given that opinions are so sharply divided. However, as the scheme has now been in place for some weeks we can now see more clearly how it is working and I will concentrate on that rather than whether the scheme was right or wrong in the first place. There is still scope for change, which I understand is the purpose of this website and I would hope that many residents and people who work in the area would engage constructively in order to make this work well for all of us. As I see it the two main consequences of the measures taken so far are:
In stages between May and August 2020, Croydon Council has implemented a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) in parts of South Norwood and Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood wards. The boundaries of the LTN are: Church Road, South Norwood Hill, South Norwood High Street, the Crystal Palace-Norwood Junction railway line, and the boundary with Bromley Council, which runs along an ancient parish boundary (corresponding to no particular geographic features) between Church Road and the railway. This leaves a group of Bromley streets on the south west side of Anerley Hill affected, for better or worse, by the Croydon scheme, but not part of it.
The glorious thing about defending the concept of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood, is that it forces supporters to consider ever more aspects of human life in the city. So it was inevitable that philosophy should raise its head at some stage. So we have to thank Helen on our Facebook platform for pointing out the dangers of dogma, though I’m not sure she meant the dogma that cars and the city are somehow inevitably entwined.
We’re publishing these key tests as discussions around an amended design to the Crystal Palace LTN begin to emerge.
Other suggestions for key requirements are welcome – please leave them in the comments section below. Any scheme that can meet these tests while minimising disruption for residents and essential services is one that should be given serious consideration.
1) Remove 100% of “through”-traffic cutting between Church Road, Anerley Hill, South Norwood Hill and Goat House Bridge via the LB Croydon-controlled back streets. This is fundamental to the operation of a low traffic neighbourhood.
3) Bromley given free democratic rein and accountability to solve anything specific to its own roads (e.g. Cintra Park / Milestone Road cut-through), without prejudicing Croydon’s solution – and vice versa.
4) Minimise traffic speed/volume on all sections of Lancaster Road, Southern Avenue, Auckland Road, and Belvedere Road (Bromley) to meet the London Cycle Design Standards for a fully shared road. This means 2000 vehicle movements per day or less on any given segment of road. In some cases this means increasing, not reducing, residents’ access to and from the nearest main road.
5) Maintain doorstep access to Auckland Surgery to in-zone and out-of-zone residents from all sides of the network, in order to provide convenient and equitable access for people suffering from illness and those with disabilities.
6) Maintain satisfactory access for emergency services.
One measure of the effectiveness of traffic alterations relies on surveys of traffic, before and after the change. If one looks at the major study (S. Cairns, S. Atkins and P. Goodwin) into ‘traffic evaporation’, we find that traffic is analysed both on the road itself, but also the boundary roads where one might expect traffic to divert to. The effectiveness of traffic evaporation is calculated from the ‘before’ and ‘after’ results of these combined figures.
Traditional thinking has tended to view the limitations on disabled people’s choices and life experiences purely as a consequence of the differences in their physical capabilities. The answer to those limitations would be to fix their physical limitations, which is, often, of course impossible, or to accept that they have to put up with more limited choices and quality of life than others. In recent years, however, disability advocates and government have favoured a different way of thinking, called the “social model of disability.” The social model holds that disabled people are held back, not by their bodies, but by the choices society makes about the physical environment, the world of work, social interaction and so on. Giving them more choice and opportunity requires fixing those problematic features of society.
There are now over 2,100 signatures to the petition which, while being supportive of the LTN, calls for the bus gate to be opened for access to local residents only.
Our proposal for a better way of controlling traffic within the LTN makes it clear that the bus gate is essential to defending a safe route for walkers and cyclists, but we haven’t addressed why residents shouldn’t be allowed through or whether certain categories of people/vehicles should be given an exemption.
Here’s the view of local resident Martin Wheatley posted on Facebook
There’s been a lot on here [Facebook ] recently about Croydon Council’s existing and planned changes to Auckland Road and nearby streets – of which I am a resident. With no disrespect to the views which have been expressed, and for the sake of balance, let me offer a different take.
I live near the Auckland Rd Cypress Hill junction.
The road block was fantastic – we saw our non cyclist teenagers both cycling down the streets learning the dangers in a safe way and they now want to cycle to school or walk. The whole road was jogging, chatting in front gardens, cycling, playing outside and dog walking while remaining distanced. It’s been amazing.
This is what Croydon Council Highway Improvements Team say:
The road closures and other measures across the borough have been installed at speed in response to covid-19 pandemic with the aim of reallocating road space to cyclists and pedestrians enabling safe, socially distanced active travel and form part of the Council’s Streetspace Improvement Programme (CSIP). The central government imposed lockdown has resulted in a substantial reduction in motor traffic, creating less polluted, quieter streets across our borough. Many people have opted to cycle or walk instead of using their own vehicles or public transport, in some areas there has been a 70% increase in the number of people using bicycles for exercise, safe and socially distanced travel.