In news that may pacify vociferous pro-motoring objectors to LTNs, research has found road injuries halved in low-traffic neighbourhoods installed during the coronavirus pandemic – and the greatest reduction was among drivers and people on foot.
The improvement in safety is more than twice that created by 20mph urban speed limits, which in themselves reduced injuries by 23% following their introduction in London about 20 years ago.
The research, which looked at casualties across 72 LTNs, showed no increase in danger on roads at their boundaries and that reduction in injuries among cyclists was modest.
The benefits of LTNs
The vast majority of people in London live on streets that could be part of low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) according to a recent study
Critics have argued the schemes benefit wealthier areas by simply pushing traffic elsewhere, but the report found “no clear social equity problem related to LTNs” and only minimal difference on the likelihood of this for households on lower incomes, people from minority ethnic groups, or those with disabilities.
The study, by Prof Rachel Aldred and Dr Ersilia Verlinghieri from Westminster University’s Active Travel Academy with climate charity Possible, found that across London about 90% of people live on residential streets, with few disparities across demographic differences.
The authors stress that steps should be taken to ease traffic flow on bigger roads. Prof Rachel Aldred said: “The report shows us that the large majority of Londoners, whatever their age, ethnicity, or income level, live on residential streets.
“This is, of course, not an argument for forgetting the one in 10 who live on high streets and main roads, but it does highlight the wide reach of low-traffic neighbourhoods, which are most easily introduced in residential streets.”
Prof Rachel Aldred, co-author of the report, spoke to us about the road harm as part of our film Stop killing our Children.
The ethical choice
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