Do LTNs Cut Accidents?

A study on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) by Anna Goodman et al, which has been widely reported by the Guardian and the Mayor of London, suggests that road casualties have fallen dramatically in London after LTNs were introduced. The fall is as much as 50% overall with large falls in pedestrian casualties.

One might say that if roads are closed and traffic reduced (the main objective of LTNs by their advocates although the Covid epidemic was used as the excuse to do so) then accidents are bound to fall. On the logic that the end justifies the means then to reduce the high road casualty toll, all roads should be closed. But that would not be very practical.

But if you look at the study, you will realise that it is hardly a scientifically accurate study of the impact of LTNs.

The key measure to look at when considering road accidents is the Killed and Seriously Injured (KSIs) where the data in this study seems to be very small, as minor injuries can suffer from under reporting. That is particularly so in the pandemic as people would be reluctant to visit police stations to report accidents.

In addition it seems a lot of the reduction is to pedestrians who were probably much reduced, particularly on busy shopping streets where most casualties take place, because of the pandemic. Few people were going shopping other than via the internet during the pandemic (many shops were closed), and the elderly and young, who are most prone to road accidents were particularly avoiding going out (schools were closed for example). The data has not been adjusted to take account of these factors.

The other issue is that road safety professionals consider that a three-year before and three-year after comparison is best used when considering the impact of road changes. This is because if road layouts are changed there tends to be a significant but only short-term impact on road user behaviour.

This is very selective data over a short period of time and not likely to reflect longer term trends. It is a great pity that Sadiq Khan has promoted this report without thinking. There are many good reasons why LTNs are opposed by the majority of people and LTNs are not a good way to reduce road accidents. All such simplistic solutions will fail because the reasons for accidents are complex and scientific studies need to have proper “controls” in place before conclusions are drawn. In this study, why were pedestrian casualties much reduced while other types were not and what features of the LTNs may have reduced accidents? There are several ways to implement LTNs but the report tells us nothing about those issues.

Reference: https://findingspress.org/article/25633-impacts-of-2020-low-traffic-neighbourhoods-in-london-on-road-traffic-injuries 

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Mayor Raking it in from ULEZ Charges

The “This is Money” web site have published a very good article on how the ULEZ charge is generating large amounts of tax money for the Mayor and TfL in London. It reports, based on data obtained by the AA, that the Mayor raked in £107 million in the first year of the ULEZ. See link below for the article.

We pointed out when the ULEZ charge was first proposed that this was about raising money for TfL to plug a big hole in their budgets. It was not primarily about improving the health of Londoners as claimed because any cost/benefit analysis indicates it is very poor value for money. See Reference 2 below for links to past articles.

With the ULEZ expanding in October and likely to affect another 300,000 drivers of older vehicles, the tax income raised will grow exponentially.

This is basically an attack on car drivers, particularly those who cannot afford to buy a new car, such as the elderly or poor.

Implementing the expanded ULEZ will cost £130 million in capital expenditure and by 2030 the expected benefit in reduced emissions is forecast to be zero as the vehicle fleet changes. But will the taxes ever be removed? We doubt it.

In reality the Mayor will plead poverty as he regularly does and the ULEZ and Congestion Charges will increase.

Reference 1: This is Money article: https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-9792587/London-rakes-107m-extra-ULEZ-zone-expands-14-weeks.html

Reference 2: FFDF Articles on the ULEZ: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/environment.htm

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Residents Oppose Road Closures in Dulwich

Campaign group OneDulwich have published this note:

80% against 24/7 closure of Dulwich Village junction

Surveys of residents in ten roads close to Dulwich Village junction show that over 80% of more than 800 local households (representing a far greater number of individuals) do not support the 24/7 closure.

You can read their full report on their web site here: https://www.onedulwich.uk/ along with a lot of other useful information.

It might be time for Southwark Council to stop referring to those in opposition as a small vocal minority.

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Air Pollution Data in London Does Not Support Mayor’s Claims

Yet again the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has used school children to promote his policies to expand the ULEZ in a photo-shoot. He said “In central London, the world-leading Ultra Low Emission Zone has already helped cut toxic roadside nitrogen dioxide pollution by nearly half and led to reductions that are five times greater than the national average”.

But in fact a recently published report by the London Borough of Lewisham shows that air pollution has fallen dramatically in recent years even in outer London boroughs. This is clearly the result of changes to vehicles and in 2020 by Covid lockdowns reducing traffic.

This is what we have said to supporters of our campaign against the Lewisham LTNs:

There is major public concern on the impact of the road closures in the LTN on air pollution because they have diverted traffic onto surrounding roads. Such roads as Burnt Ash Road, Lee High Road, Lee Road, the South Circular and others are residential roads and there are reports of increased air pollution.

A useful report (at least to some extent) has just been published by Lewisham Council. It contains their “Air Quality Annual Status Report for 2020” (available from this page: https://tinyurl.com/pmhsu6up ).

The report contains measurements of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulates (PM2.5) over the last few years up to the end of 2020 from about 50 sites across the borough. An additional 51 sites were added in September 2020, many located within the LTN such as on Manor Lane and Burnt Ash Road, but that was of course after the Lee Green road closures were instituted. It is therefore impossible to see the impact of the road closures as no proper “before and after data” has been collected and the Covid lock-down measures will also have complicated any analysis. The biggest reduction occurred in the last two years but that might be due to reduced traffic volumes.

However the data shows that there have been consistent falls in pollution since 2014 (an average decrease of 38% for the seven year period). The levels reported are now all within the National Air Quality Standards, although some people argue that those standards should be raised.

It is no doubt the case that the falls in air pollution levels that have taken place prior to 2020 and continued in that year have occurred due to cleaner vehicles. Older vehicles have been scrapped and standards for new vehicles have been raised by Government regulation – for example by the move to Euro 6 standards. 

The borough supports the Mayor of London’s commitment to reduce the PM2.5 limit but as the report says “a large percentage of PM2.5 in London comes from regional and other transboundary (non-UK) sources”. It is clear that action on particulates, which is probably more important in health terms than NO2, needs to be taken at a national or international level.  In other words, local LTNs in Lewisham are not going to have a significant impact on background levels of air pollution.

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Lower Thames Crossing Consultation

Highways England have launched a new public consultation on the Lower Thames Crossing. A number of changes have been made after a previous consultation. This tunnel under the Thames east of the Dartford Crossing will relieve traffic congestion on the M25 and cope with the large increase in housing and businesses east of London and in Kent/Essex.

See https://ltcconsultation.highwaysengland.co.uk/ for the consultation and how to respond.

Our main response to the consultation was to encourage them to get on and build it! But those living near to the route may have more detailed comments.

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Government Powers Ahead with Decarbonising Transport

An announcement from the Government today spells out the world’s first “greenprint” for decarbonising all modes of domestic transport by 2050.

Plans include a ban on the same of all new “polluting” road vehicles by 2040 and net zero aviation emissions by 2050. The former includes the phasing out of all petrol and diesel HGVs by 2040 – subject to consultation. Consultation will be very important because the practicality of HGVs that need to go long distances without repeated refuelling is important economically. LGVs can probably be electrified but HGVs need to use alternative fuels.

The 2050 commitment applies to aviation emissions and a consultation on that is also launched under the “Jet Zero” banner. It is clear that new technologies and aviation fuels need to be developed to achieve a major reduction in aviation emissions. Whether such changes to reach zero emissions are achievable is not at all clear and the cost, which might be very considerable, is not given.

Similarly the costs of electrification of all rail transport is likely to be enormous as the UK lags far behind other European countries in that regard. Only about 50% of the UK rail network is currently electrified.

The Daily Telegraph has speculated on a new system of road pricing to replace the £30 billion currently raised through taxes on petrol and diesel. But the latest Government announcement leaves out any mention of how that issue is to be tackled.

As with all good political missives, the Government document contains lots of fine words about how the environment will be improved while not inhibiting us from travelling when or where we want (for example, taking holiday flights). It’s a policy statement in essence that leaves out all the detail of how this nirvana is to be achieved and at what cost. It ignores a lot of the practical difficulties. But it’s worth reading to get an impression of what might happen in the next few years.

Government GreenPrint Paper: https://tinyurl.com/8ymtap38

Telegraph Article on “Road Toll Confusion”: https://tinyurl.com/edxxh4rp

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Beech Street to Reopen

Beech Street runs under the Barbican in the City of London. It was closed to all but zero emission vehicles recently using an Experimental Traffic Order. But that order will expire in September and it seems a mistake has been made by the City Corporation so it will be reopened. This closure was exceedingly inconvenient to Barbican residents and this is what a residents association had to say about this news:

There has been an unexpected development in the continuing saga of the Beech Street traffic experiment. It appears that Beech Street is to re-open to all traffic for anything up to a year when the experiment traffic order expires on 18 September 2021 because the City has bungled the introduction of a permanent traffic order which would be necessary to keep the traffic restrictions in place.

This means that on 18 September 2021, Beech Street will revert to how it was before the experiment began. All vehicles of all types will be at liberty to use Beech Street at any time without penalty, just as they were before the traffic scheme came into operation. The traffic signs will be taken down, the cameras will be de-activated, the junctions with Bridgwater Street and Golden Lane will re-open, the concrete blocks will be taken away and the new gaps in the central reservation allowing right turns into Lauderdale Place and Defoe House car park will be blocked off.

You may be wondering why the gaps in the central reservation have to be closed since they are of value with or without the experiment. The City says the gaps can only operate safely at low levels of traffic because vehicles making right turns into off-street premises leave their tail ends sticking out into the eastbound carriageway.

The reason why Beech Street is to re-open is a little convoluted. As many will know, the City’s refusal to postpone the experiment when the pandemic struck has been challenged in the High Court. The ground for the challenge was that a traffic experiment carried out in abnormal traffic conditions was not a fair test and that the start of the experiment should have been delayed until traffic conditions returned to normal.

The High Court hearing took place on 29 and 30 June. Prior to the hearing, on 15 April 2021, the High Court issued an injunction prohibiting the City from making the Beech Street scheme permanent in advance of the court’s decision on the challenge. The City wasn’t sure whether this meant it had to stop all monitoring and consultation in relation to the experiment. Instead of asking the judge for clarification, it took the decision to suspend the monitoring and consultation, which threw its timetable for making a permanent traffic order into disarray.

At the hearing, the judge said this was entirely unnecessary since she had never intended the monitoring and consultation to stop and if the City had sent her an email asking for clarification, which was what everyone else did when they wanted the meaning of a court order clarified, she would have told them there and then.

The City told the court that it would not now be possible to make a permanent traffic order until February 2022 at the earliest and possibly not until autumn 2022.

A ruling on the High Court challenge is likely to come in about a month. It is possible that the High Court will revoke the experimental traffic order which in the circumstances would be good news. It would mean that the City could start a new experiment as soon as traffic conditions returned to normal, thereby reintroducing the Beech Street traffic restrictions much earlier than would be possible if it were to make a permanent traffic order. And there would then be a proper experiment”.

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ULEZ Costs Rise Again

Sadiq Khan has disclosed in his latest answers to questions in the London Assembly that the cost of implementing the expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will now be £130 million.  This is to cover the cost of an extra 750 cameras to cover the expanded area to the North/South Circular.

The original estimated cost was only £38.4 million, subsequently rising to £120 million and now £130 million. It never made economic sense in terms of the cost/benefit ratio and is a typical example of TfL and the Mayor being financially incompetent.

In fact TfL concealed the original costs and likely income when the project was first proposed. See this web page for the history of what happened and why it never made sense: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/environment.htm  . In reality it is imposing enormous costs on Londoners for minimal benefit.

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Ealing LTN Consultations

From the OneEaling campaign:

Ealing Council consultation: the time is now!

Dear Supporter,

Ealing Council are holding a final consultation on the LTNs. PLEASE make sure you have your say. This has to be done by 23rd July!

After this consultation, the LTNs will either be scrapped if the majority want them removed or made permanent if the majority want them to stay in place.

This is your LAST CHANCE to have your say on ALL of these schemes, everyone is eligible and all can express their views on each scheme. Make sure you fill in the reason why you do not want each LTN, those living within/surrounding the LTNs will have more weighting but those who run businesses and work in the area will also be considered.

Below are the all links and the SurveyMonkey link is the actual voting part. It takes less than a minute to complete each survey.

Please share this amongst everyone you know locally, friends, neighbours, colleagues, etc.

LTN30: Loveday

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/lovedayroadltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/lovedayltn

LTN35: Mattock Lane

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/mattocklaneltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/mattockltn

LTN32: Junction Road

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/junctionroadltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/junctionltn

LTN20: West Ealing North (Waitrose)

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/westealingnorthltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/westealingnorthltn

LTN08: Olive Road (Popes Lane)

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/oliveroadltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/oliveltn

LTN48: Adrienne Ave (Greenford)

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/adrienneavenueltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/adrienneltn

LTN25 Acton Central

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/actoncentralltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/actoncentralltn

Deans Road/Montague Rd Consultation for LTN to be reinstated:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/deanmontagueltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/info/201268/low_traffic_neighbourhoods/2821/deans_road_and_montague_avenue_low_traffic_neighbourhood/1

Thank you for your continued support.

The OneEaling Team

Andy Byford Speaks to the Standard

London Transport Commissioner Andy Byford recently gave an interview with the Evening Standard which is informative. He talks about the problem of re-establishing confidence in the underground network to help restore the finances of TfL, and the promotion of electric buses to cure air pollution problems – but that won’t happen for the whole bus fleet until 2030.

One interesting point the article makes is that Mr Byford is a non-driver. He does of course have responsibility for the road network in London as his remit includes Transport for London who control the roads. Is it not astonishing that we have a Transport Commissioner who has no personal experience of using the road network which is used to transport a very high proportion of people and goods in London?

This shows the innate prejudice against motorised road transport that has been introduced into London by politicians.

Reference 1: Evening Standard Article: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/tfl-boss-andy-byford-clash-ministers-plan-ditch-masks-tube-b943356.html

Reference 2: Andy Byford interview: https://www.londonrising.standard.co.uk/programme/andy-byford-in-conversation-with-emily-sheffield

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