The Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) trials which were introduced last month to make residential streets more bike and pedestrian friendly and to deter 'rat run' traffic have been suspended by London’s Wandsworth Council. The LTN trials were part of a series of measures introduced as part of the COVID-19 response, freeing up additional space on the highway in support of social distancing and to promote alternative forms of travel as people gradually return to work.
The trials also supported the council’s ambition of combating climate change by encouraging people to use more sustainable forms of transport and tackling air quality, a spokesperson for the council said.
However, the council has confirmed that an initial review of the trials has identified concerns with emergency access and traffic flows. And this has been compounded by additional changes that Transport for London (TfL) is making to red route roads in the borough.
These include significant interventions on the A24 (Balham High Road to Tooting High Street and beyond) including moving bus stops, installing cycle lane segregation, banning turns at a number of junctions and removing parking.
The scale of these A24 changes coinciding with the council’s efforts to establish LTN trials on residential streets has caused confusion and long traffic queues.
Additionally, concerns around rising COVID-19 rates and reduced capacity on public transport has meant that alternative travel options are limited for many people at this time.
In light of these initial trial findings the council has decided to suspend the LTN trials.
Wandsworth Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning and transportation, Cllr John Locker, said: “We have monitored the traffic flows and listened to feedback from residents and businesses. We have also spoken to our partners including local hospitals and key services to hear the impact on them.
“It is clear that the LTNs are not delivering the benefits we want to see. In fact it looks like the combination of changes in areas like Tooting, where TfL are making changes to the main high road, are unfortunately having the opposite effect. That is why we have taken the difficult decision to pause and re-think about how we can achieve our objective of delivering healthier, safer streets.”
He added: “We all want to do what is right environmentally, whilst maintaining people’s ability to travel and making sure town centres and high streets function properly. It’s important that we listen to what people are saying so that we get this right.”