Ten weeks on from its launch, and after the council announced it will publish data monitoring the impact of the Lewisham and Lee Green low traffic neighbourhood in November, we look back on the controversial scheme.  

Using physical and camera-enforced barriers to stop motor vehicles coming through, LTNs aim to reduce car usage, with many being introduced across London under emergency measures to help social distancing and encourage more active travel in the wake of the pandemic. 

The scheme, originally planned as a healthy neighbourhood, was brought in under emergency Covid-19 measures. 

It has been in place for 10 weeks, with mixed responses.  

Most people, whether in support of the LTN or against, back reducing air pollution and want safer streets with less traffic.  

But some of the traffic previously inside the LTN has been displaced, causing spikes elsewhere, particularly just outside it.

This has left residents concerned about air pollution and increased danger on their roads.  

West of the station and outside the LTN in Hither Green, many residential streets have become busier.  

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Hither Green Lane has experienced a spike in traffic

The council says it expected this to happen, and that it should dissipate. But many are asking how long they have to suffer before this happens, an unknown at this point.  

In Hither Green some are campaigning for an LTN of their own, while others oppose the proposals and would like to see the LTN changed or reversed.

One of several petitions concerning the scheme includes a campaign to prevent any closure of Hither Green Lane as it will “affect businesses who have shops [on it], and those who rely upon a vehicle as part of their job”. 

There are also people who cannot travel by public transport and must use motor vehicles who have had their journey times increased, including those with SEN, delivery drivers, and people who need to carry a lot of equipment for their jobs.  

Some opposing the scheme as it stands, said they would fully back it if residents in the area were allowed to pass through the barriers without being penalised – they say then only the rat-runners would suffer, not people living and working there. 

Some logistical issues with the LTN along the way have included drivers mounting pavements to avoid the barriers, a police crash after which officers sent cars up closed off roads, emergency service delays, and drivers persistently ignoring camera-enforced barriers. 

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The fines of £130 for going through barriers and Google Maps recently updating so that it stops sending drivers down blocked road may help alleviate some issues.  

Businesses inside the LTN have reported drops in customers and much longer delivery times, while some fear they will be forced to shut for good.  

The impact is difficult to measure because of the added pressures of the pandemic, though a lot of businesses specifically identified the road closures as problematic.  

One reoccurring issue cited by residents and business owners opposing the scheme, is a failure of the council to listen to their concerns.  

Supporters of the LTN, council included, say it is needed to tackle air pollution, to make streets safer by reducing through-traffic, and to promote cycling and walking.  

There are residents inside and outside the LTN that support the scheme – they say it will reduce the pressure on public transport and roads if more people are walking and cycling.  

Some are enjoying significantly reduced traffic on their roads, which were previously “dangerous rat-runs”. 

They have also called for patience as the benefits take time to “bed in”. 

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The cabinet member for environment and transport, Cllr Sophie Mc Geevor, said the increased traffic was “an expected short-term consequence of the introduction of these measures”.   

“We have full sympathy with those who may be experiencing more traffic noise and exhaust fumes but we are confident that the impact on surrounding roads will ease.  

“It will take time, but what we’re committed to reducing car journeys that aren’t necessary for everyone’s benefit.   

“We hope that as these measures settle into place, local people who are able to walk or cycle will start to recognise the benefits of the more sustainable ways for local travel,” she said.  

The council will be monitoring the impact of the scheme using data on traffic counts, traffic speeds, air quality, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera compliance levels, and feedback via councillors, Commonplace, and the public.   

It will also be working with other organisations to monitor the impact on bus journey times and emergency service response times.   

The data will be released to the public in late November, after which the council will decide whether to introduce an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO) for up to 18 months with a review period after six months.