LTN sceptics, look away: here are London’s healthiest streets

Low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) have ruffled feathers since they were rolled out in 2020, with the policy leading to streets across London being blocked off to motors. Car owners complain that they’re making London harder to get around on four wheels. LTN supporters respond that that’s literally the whole point – they’re aiming to slash pollution by weaning us all off driving and onto cycling, walking and public transport.

Now, the latest edition of the Healthy Streets Scorecard has analysed the success of the great LTN rollout across the capital, alongside a host of other anti-car, pro-health measures like protected cycle tracks and 20mph speed limits.

For the third year running, the cyclists’ paradise that is Islington has come out top among the inner London boroughs. It has seven LTNs, as well as 25 streets near schools where traffic is restricted at drop-off and pick-up times, and all residential roads have a 20mph speed limit. 

Waltham Forest came top among the outer London boroughs, with its LTNs covering around half of the borough, and an ambitious network of segregated cycle lanes in the works. 

The City is the overall winner, which is arguably unsurprising since it has relatively few full-time residents and even fewer car owners. But it did get special praise for its proposed pedestrian-friendly redevelopment of St Paul’s gyratory, which will create a big new public square to the north of St Paul’s cathedral.

Bottom of the table? Predictably, it’s two of the Tory boroughs who mounted a legal challenge to the Mayor Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion, Bexley and Hillingdon. Only five percent of streets in Bexley are LTNs, compared to 69 percent in Hackney.

The compilers of the Healthy Streets Scorecard include campaigning organisations including CPRE London, London Cycling Campaign, London Living Streets, RoadPeace, Sustrans and Action Vision Zero. And although these changes haven’t come without a backlash, their report strikes a positive note about the future of LTNs. It notes that car ownership is steadily falling in London (from 2.51 million to 2.45 million in two years), road casualties are declining, and that there are fewer high-emission vehicles on the roads. It also praised boroughs including Redbridge and Lewisham for their ambitious rollouts of new cycle tracks.

Still, London isn’t yet an Amsterdam-esque paradise, full of carefree pedestrians and cyclists joyously doing wheelies. The report singled out Bexley, Westminster, Bromley, Kingston and Kensington and Chelsea for their lack of progress towards a less car-dominated future. Come on guys, show those 4x4s what for! Your kids will almost certainly thank you.

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