London Fields LTN to be made permanent amid rise in crime and traffic collisions
- Credit: Gary Manhine
London Fields low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) will be made permanent despite an overall negative response to the plans which have preceded increases in crime and traffic collisions.
The green scheme was introduced in September 2020, as part of Hackney Council plans to improve air quality and encourage people to walk and cycle more.
The council says the decision to retain the LTN, made of of traffic filters, School Streets and bus gates, follows analysis of residents' feedback, as well as traffic, air quality, bus speeds and cycling data.
According to a delegated report, 64 per cent of 5,685 responses had negative feelings towards the LTN.
Meanwhile, 35pc felt positive about the traffic measures.
The London Fields LTN report also revealed residents' thoughts on council plans to "Rebuild a Greener Hackney".
The feedback showed 43pc of respondents agreed with the council's mission, while 53pc did not.
Key benefits of the LTN listed in the feedback includes "increases [in the] pleasantness of the area", as well as reductions in air pollution and traffic.
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However, common complaints about the LTN describe traffic and air pollution increases, as well as a drop in road safety.
Since the LTN was implemented, overall traffic levels have improved in the London Fields area.
Traffic was found to be down in the neighbourhood on average, including by 8,000 vehicles a day on Richmond Road.
And, according to analysis by air quality consultants AECOME, air quality has been predicted to have improved at 147 of 169 modelled locations in the area.
Cycling rates have also increased in the LTN.
But the latest figures show traffic was up on some streets such as Forest Road, Laurel Street and on some boundary roads including; Dalston Lane, Graham Road and on some parts of Kingsland Road, Whiston Road and Mare Street.
The report states: "It is evident that a proportion of this congestion is due to the road capacity failing to cope with additional traffic flows.
"However, this has been made worse due to additional traffic management on roads for roadworks"
The delegated report on London Fields LTN recommended that all temporary measures, introduced via an experimental traffic order, should be made permanent.
It also revealed that on the whole, traffic collisions across all the LTN's roads increased, from pre-implementation totals of 55 in 2019/19 and 69 in 2019/2020, to 83 collisions after the scheme had been introduced in 2020/2021.
Some of the roads which saw more traffic incidents after the scheme's implementation include Queensbridge Road, Dalston Lane, Kingsland Road and Whiston Road.
Mare Street saw a surge from 13 to 30 between 2018/19 and 2019/20, reducing somewhat to 20 in 2020/21.
Some roads saw no change in traffic collisions and others a reduction.
The report notes a University of Westminster study (2020) however, which found that LTNs decrease casualties.
It reads: "It would be reasonable to expect that over a longer period that this would also be reflected in the statistics for this area."
Crime was also found to have increased in the LTN area, after the implementation of the traffic measures.
Figures comparing August to July in 2020 and in 2021, show all crime increased by 13pc, from 896 to 1016.
Anti-social behaviour increased by 12pc and public order offences by 38pc.
The report cites national and local lockdowns as a potential factor in the increase.
Though it states: "As the scheme leads to reduced traffic flows, there is a possibility that it could have led to an increase in anti-social behaviour and crime, because less traffic results in fewer 'eyes on the street'."
Following feedback during the consultation period, Blue Badge holders will be permitted to drive through the Richmond Road bus gates from March 21.
Transport chief Cllr Mete Coban said: “We’ve been looking closely at the monitoring results, which show traffic reduction inside the LTN, overall improvements in air quality and a significant increase in cycling.
“We know that there are still things that we need to get right - which is why we’re continuing engagement with residents and why we’ve introduced live traffic monitors on Dalston Lane and Graham Road.”
The council intends to carry out further engagement with residents on a number of issues raised.