Why I welcome low-traffic neighbourhoods

A box planter at the entrance to a street in Palmers Green
Earlier attempts to cut traffic in the Fox Lane area by installing planters at road entrances failed

Palmers Green resident Adrian Day welcomes moves to cut traffic in his local area

If we are to address issues of climate change, pollution-related illnesses and deaths, not to mention obesity, inactivity and road deaths from vehicles, we need interventions to change behaviours and reduce the dependence on cars.

There is plenty of noisy opposition to the new low-traffic neighbourhoods proposed by Enfield Council [Anger over council’s low-traffic plan, Issue 15, Page 1], just as there was to the excellent cycle lanes. But those that are able need to be encouraged to walk more, cycle more and use public transport more often. To carry on as we have been doing is not an option.

The Fox Lane Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) group includes residents from 13 streets in the Fox Lane area of Palmers Green, who all welcome the active steps being taken to cut down on speeding vehicles and rat runners so that everyone can more readily walk and cycle around the neighbourhood.

For too long, drivers have been using these residential roads as a cut-through with recorded speeds regularly over 60mph. Thousands of vehicles use these back streets as a shortcut every day. This traffic should be kept on the main roads where it belongs, so that people feel safe on the roads they live in and are happy to walk and cycle.

We’re delighted that Enfield Council is bringing forward plans to tackle this issue properly. The issue of heavy and speeding traffic is not new – some residents have been campaigning about traffic problems in the area for 30 years. Unfortunately, a planters scheme trial in early 2019 – narrowing the entrance to each road with a large planter – failed to reduce traffic or speed.

Council monitoring shows that many roads face high levels of traffic, with around 42,000 vehicles a week using Fox Lane. Amberley Road has 4,300 cars per day and around 27,000 per week in a road of just 50 households. It is clear that the majority of these journeys are through-traffic rather than residential car journeys.

The Fox Lane LTN group does not agree with every detail of the council’s plans. Many of us would like fewer road closures than the 16 proposed. However, all members are in agreement of the principle of an area-wide plan to close ‘rat runs’ and we hope that the sticking points will be ironed out during the trial. We are encouraging all residents to share their views with the council about what they think will work.

Reducing the volume of traffic in the area will improve air quality and help more people consider walking and cycling and rely less on their cars for short journeys. The same approach in Waltham Forest produced dramatic improvements in air quality and daily exercise among residents – and showed that the surrounding road network can cope with changes to vehicle journeys.

Low-traffic neighbourhoods are now being proposed by several boroughs across London. As Enfield looks to roll out its own low-traffic neighbourhoods, it is great that we are able to play our role in finding out what works best.

For more information about the council’s quieter neighbourhoods plan:
Visit cycleenfield.co.uk/quieter-neighbourhoods