Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
What is a low traffic neighbourhood?
A low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) is a residential area where ‘shortcut’ or ‘through’ motor traffic is discouraged or removed, and the remaining space is improved for residents.
Barriers such as planters or signs are strategically placed to allow walking and cycling through a certain street or area, but restrict access for motor vehicles. These roads remain ‘access-only’ for vehicles - meaning people can drive in and out, but the road can no longer be used as a shortcut.
Why were they introduced in the borough?
Kingston Council declared a Climate Emergency on 25 June 2019 and is committed to addressing issues that affect the environment and health of its communities, with the resources it has available. This includes tackling climate change, improving air quality and enabling our residents and visitors to use sustainable travel options.
Our vision is to create a ‘cleaner, greener Kingston’ and our streets play a major role in this plan. We want our roads to be pleasant spaces where we can breathe clean air, walk around safely and feel connected to our community.
We have a number of exciting projects already underway to help us achieve this. Work includes: improving our cycling infrastructure, introducing school streets and installing more electric vehicle charging points to make it easier for those who need to drive to make the switch to electric vehicles.
The outbreak of COVID-19 saw a complete transformation in people’s daily habits, with travel being significantly impacted and more people than ever before walking and cycling. This has accelerated the delivery of a number of our schemes, including our low traffic neighbourhoods.
Our low traffic neighbourhood trials were introduced to discourage drivers from using residential roads as shortcuts and to create safer, quieter and healthier spaces for pedestrians and cyclists.
These schemes will make it easier and safer for people to travel locally by foot or on bike helping people to maintain good health and improved wellbeing.
Where are they located?
Surbiton - King Charles Road - launched on 14 September 2020
A barrier has been installed on King Charles Road (between Hollyfield Road and Beaconsfield Road) to prevent the road being used as a through-route (shortcut) for motor traffic.
Kingston Town - Albert Road - launched on 7 September 2020
Albert Road is regularly used as a shortcut by motorists trying to avoid the main road junction with Cambridge Road. A planter has been installed at the Albert Road/Hawks Road junction to make this residential road safer by preventing vehicle access. To achieve this, a section of Albert Road’s one-way system has been reversed (southbound) and alterations made to the cycle lane (northbound).
Kingston Town - Lower Ham Road - launched on 7 September 2020
Paths and roads are narrow in this area and traffic congestion is common. A planter has been installed on Lower Ham Road (between Woodside Road and Bank Lane) to prevent through-traffic and minimise vehicles using the road. There is access for vehicles to properties and businesses in one direction.
Why were these roads chosen?
These locations were chosen based on a range of factors including previous correspondence received from residents and recommendations from engineers and planners. Sites were visited by highways engineers, who were confident that these locations could benefit from the new measures.
How long will the measures be in place and how is success measured?
All of the schemes have been introduced using Experimental Traffic Management Orders (ETMOs) that can be in place for up to 18 months, with any consultation activities to be completed during the first six months of the scheme. Engagement for our LTNs closed six months from the date of their implementation.
All immediately affected roads, plus surrounding roads have been monitored, with air quality, cycling and traffic data gathered.
We have analysed all feedback received from residents and local stakeholders shared with us via Let’s Talk, email and their local councillors.
The relevant Neighbourhood Committees are responsible for taking formal decisions on the future of the LTNs.
Each Neighbourhood Committee will decide whether the schemes are made permanent, removed or modified.
Where did the money come from?
LTN schemes were delivered through national government and Transport for London (TfL) funding that was designated to support active travel. Both streams of funding had strict timelines in place - all schemes had to be in place by the end of September 2020. These tight deadlines dictated the method of delivery.
How do these schemes align with existing borough transport policies?
In 2019 the borough produced its current version of the Local Implementation Plan (called LIP3), which sets out how we intend to manage our road network and make improvements in line with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, the plan covers the period until 2041.
This is a statutory document that all London boroughs must have in place. LIP3 included a number of set aims including that our streets will be Healthy Streets and more Londoners will travel actively; our streets will be safe and secure; and that our streets will be used more efficiently and have less traffic on them. There are other outcomes that relate to public transport, but it is important to identify that the proposals being brought forward are in line with our policies.
Why were residents not consulted first?
Our low traffic neighbourhoods are being delivered through national government and Transport for London (TfL) funding that has been designated to support active travel. Both streams of funding had strict timelines in place.
Proposals from all London boroughs had to be submitted, designed and delivered quickly, all of which meant that we were unable to follow our normal practice of extensive consultation prior to schemes being considered. Funding bids were submitted in June 2020 and projects had to be in place by September 2020.
These measures were introduced on a trial basis using Experimental Traffic Management Orders (ETMOs), which are brought into force quickly, using low cost and temporary materials. The schemes have been monitored for effectiveness throughout and residents were invited to share feedback during the first six months of the trial period.
Approximately two weeks before the schemes were implemented, local residents received a letter informing them of the new trials.
The Traffic Management Orders were also advertised in the Surrey Comet and the London Gazette.
If my road is closed, how will emergency vehicles be able to access it?
The safety of our residents is a key priority. Kingston Council worked closely with the emergency services before each scheme was installed to make sure they could still access every street, and our engineers continue to meet with them regularly.
Can I still drive inside a low traffic neighbourhood?
Yes, this is not a pedestrianisation scheme. It is vital that people who need to use their cars, such as blue badge holders, can still do so. Residents are still able to access their property by car, as are visitors, deliveries from outside the area and service vehicles such as waste collection trucks, but their routes may need to change. The aim is to deter through-traffic, not remove all traffic.
Will there be exemptions for residents or blue badge holders?
Barriers are in place to prevent through-traffic using certain routes. This means that all local traffic, including blue badge holders may need to use alternative routes to get into and out of their residential areas.
Have equalities impact assessments been carried out for the low traffic neighbourhoods?
Full EQIAs will be produced and presented as part of the reports and analysis for all of the schemes.
Have certified risk assessments been carried out for the trials?
The schemes were designed in line with legal requirements and current road safety standards. If a decision is taken to make any of the schemes permanent - a full road safety audit will be carried out as part of the full scheme design.
Were air pollution tests carried out ahead of implementation of all of the trials?
Robust air quality monitoring requires a minimum of six months of data both before and after the introduction of a highway intervention, to account for the impact of the weather and other confounding variables. The requirement for expedited delivery of these schemes removed the possibility of collecting adequate baseline air quality monitoring data.
In order to circumvent this challenge the council has carried out air quality modelling around the low traffic neighbourhoods. Modelling assesses the impact of the change in traffic patterns on air quality at sensitive receptors both within and outside the neighbourhoods.
The model uses traffic data collected before and during implementation of the LTNs. This data is translated into air pollution emissions using The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Emissions - Factor Toolkit. Emissions are then used to derive concentrations of key pollutants at user-defined sensitive receptors. Model outputs are verified and adjusted using data from our existing, permanent network of air quality monitors.
This is a well-established, industry standard methodology that eliminates the impact of confounding variables, allowing the impact of the LTNs to be isolated and quantitatively assessed.
This modelling has been carried out by independent consultants and can be viewed in the data analysis reports for each LTN (see ‘how long will the measures be in place and how is success measured?’ above to access reports).
How can residents stay informed on any further developments?
The latest information will be added to this webpage. We are also keeping residents informed via Let’s Talk and our new ‘Street Talk’ e-newsletter (to sign up to receive this in your inbox, subscribe to stay informed here).
If I have a question who can I speak to?
If you have any further questions in the meantime, please email [email protected].