Want to know more about our LTN?

If you are wondering how the Highbury Low Traffic Neighbourhood will work in practice, this Q&A is a good place to start.

The frequently asked questions below will give you a better idea of what LTNs are for, how they work, whether the Highbury scheme will affect you as a resident, carer or business owner, and how you can have your say.

What is a Low-Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN)?

Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods are groups of residential streets where ‘through’ vehicle traffic is discouraged. Residents, deliveries and essential services can access any house from one main road, but it’s not possible to drive straight through from one main road to the next unless you are an emergency service. An area is divided into zones by traffic filters - usually cameras, sometimes bollards. The main goal of an LTN is to reduce traffic and make it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle more often.

What changes are happening in Islington?

Low-traffic neighbourhoods are being introduced in Highbury, Amwell, Canonbury, Clerkenwell Green and St Peter’s. You can find full details here.

What problems are they trying to fix with these LTNs?

Islington is the most densely populated borough in the UK and Islington’s roads are amongst the most congested in London, causing pollution and delays to buses and business. Busy, polluted roads tend to discourage walking and cycling. Of all Islington’s sources of air pollution, road traffic is the single most significant, contributing 50% of emissions. As well as damaging the health of people who live here, this pollution is a contributor to climate change.

Why make these changes now?

The current Covid-19 health emergency has made it necessary to accelerate these plans to make sure that everyone in Islington is kept safe and able to enjoy their streets. Without action, traffic volumes may get much worse than before the crisis - we must act now to create more space for local people to walk, cycle, use buggies and wheelchairs as a safe alternative to using public transport.

Why weren’t we consulted about these schemes before they were introduced?

These measures are being introduced on a temporary trial basis. The trial forms part of the consultation because it allows information to be gathered about what’s working and what’s not working. During the first six months of the trial you can give your views on how the measures are working and the Council can make any necessary changes so that the new people-friendly streets work as well as possible.

How and where can I have a say about this?

There are surveys for the schemes in Highbury West and Highbury Fields available now for residents in these areas to fill in. In addition, there will be a full public consultation 12 months after the introduction of the schemes.

Rather than reducing traffic and pollution, won’t this just move it from one place to another?

Research from other areas shows that low-traffic neighbourhoods do not simply shift traffic from one place to another, but lead to an overall reduction in the numbers of motor vehicles on roads.

I live on a main road; will this just make things worse for me?

There might be an initial period of increased traffic on some of the main roads. But once people know about the scheme and start adapting their habits, traffic levels decrease. We’re already seeing that LTNs in Waltham Forest and Hackney have not caused a rise in main road traffic levels.

Will the emergency services suffer delays?

People’s safety comes first. The council is working closely with the emergency services before each scheme is installed to make sure that they can still access every street as before and they are continuing to work with them so every crew knows about the changes. Most of the traffic filters in Islington are camera-operated, allowing emergency vehicles to pass straight through.

How does this affect vulnerable people and their carers?

Anyone who can currently access their home by motor vehicle, private car or taxi will still be able to after the people-friendly neighbourhood is installed. People who use walking aids, wheelchairs or mobility scooters will find the streets quieter, safer and more enjoyable with lower amounts of traffic, and fewer drivers using residential areas for quick short-cuts. The Council will ensure that dropped kerbs and level surfaces are kept clear of unnecessary obstructions. People with visual impairments will benefit from reduced traffic and road danger, and the quieter streets should help with getting around their local area more easily.

Will local businesses suffer from having less passing trade?

Evidence from other LTNs is that on the contrary, as more people walk around their neighbourhood for pleasure or work, local businesses enjoy an increase in revenues.

Some residential streets are fairly quiet; why not only block the streets that are used as cut-throughs?

Since the arrival of navigation apps such as Waze, it’s become easier for drivers to take short cuts through back streets. If one street with through-traffic problems is closed, cars will just use another residential street instead. The best way to prevent this is to limit the heaviest volume of traffic to main roads.

Why can't local people be allowed to move around the zones by using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) if they are not the main problem?

The LTNs’ goal is to create a safer, healthier environment for the people of Islington. If local traffic were allowed to continue at the same level, we would be missing an opportunity to make active travel as safe as it could be. The expected health benefits linked to cleaner air and healthier lifestyles will also be greater.

Aren't people already only using their vehicles when necessary?

Over 7 out of 10 car trips made by London residents could potentially and realistically be walked, cycled or made by public transport. If people who can make the change do so, then people who are dependent on cars for health or work reasons will find the roads less busy.

I hear a lot of heated debate about LTNs. Is this plan divisive?

This is an issue that some people feel very strongly about. Where LTNs have been implemented already, people with and without cars tend to be in support of the plans, often with a large majority. A 2020 YouGov poll found that people’s views about LTNS were three times more likely to be positive than negative.

Do these schemes disproportionately benefit the rich by pushing traffic and pollution into poorer areas?

LTNs benefit everyone, not only the well-off. Research shows that among all age, income and ethnic groups, almost 90% of people live on roads that could be part of an LTN. LTNs reduce levels of traffic and pollution overall and, over time, do not tend to increase levels of traffic and pollution on main roads. More generally, moves to reduce overall motor traffic, which LTNs aim to do, tend to help poorer households, which are less likely to own and use cars but still suffer from their effects.

Shouldn't the Council be promoting other forms of travel instead of penalising cars?

LTNs are just one part of an integrated plan aimed at making the city safer and healthier for all. Some things can be done at the local level and others need to be tackled at the city and national level. Other measures in the Mayor’s transport strategy include the extension of the ULEZ, improvements to the public transport network, the introduction of Crossrail, accelerating the move to zero emissions vehicles, etc. More details can be found in the Mayor's Transport Strategy.

If there are fewer cars on the streets, will the crime rate go up?

There is no evidence that crime goes up in LTNs. On the contrary, when more people are out and about walking, we can expect streets to feel and to be safer for all.