LOW Traffic Neighbourhoods are just one of a series of measures that will be necessary to address the serious pre-existing issues relating primarily to the operation of motor vehicles in Hackney and London more broadly, given its unenviable status as the air pollution capital of Europe:
It should be noted that, prior to the delivery of the new LTNs:
* Hackney had 6th highest air pollution death rate of 418 local authorities.
* Hackney had one of the highest pedestrian & cyclist casualty rates in London.
* Rat-running doubled in London in ten years, due to the use of ‘satnav’ technology.
* 45% of cars in Hackney are passing through the borough without stopping.
* Children in Hackney were medically assessed as suffering stunted lung development as a result of air pollution.
The operation of private motor vehicles in Hackney is a significant factor in these alarming statistics:
* 40 million more miles were driven in and through Hackney in 2019 than in 2012.
* 50% of London car journeys are <3km; 35% are <2km.
* 50% of private car journeys are for leisure or shopping, not work.
The number of cars on the U.K’s roads have been encouraged by Governments of all stripes to double to 40 million in less than 30 years.
The social, public health, and environmental damage wrought by this situation cannot continue unabated. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are one of the best mechanisms for discouraging non-essential car journeys and through-traffic.
By implementing LTNs we are also ensuring that our neighbourhoods do not continue to be a pressure release valve for an overloaded main road network, thereby distributing road space more equitably amongst those who pay for its upkeep.
In June 2019, the Labour Group of Councillors unanimously supported a Climate Emergency motion at a meeting of the Full Council that commits the council to matching the higher confidence thresholds of the IPCC’s 1.5C report – <45% reduction in emissions across our full range of functions by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2040.
This will involve difficult choices that will not be universally popular. There is no way to reach net zero emissions in land transport emissions without an element of demand constraint.
In 2019, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee confirmed this view in its decarbonisation recommendations to Government, stating that:
“Although ultra-low emissions vehicles generate very little emissions during use, their manufacture generates substantial emissions. In the long-term, widespread personal vehicle ownership therefore does not appear to be compatible with significant decarbonisation. The Government should not aim to achieve emissions reductions simply by replacing existing vehicles with lower-emissions versions.”
We will continue to assess the functioning of our new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on an ongoing basis and, if necessary, as in the case of Hoxton West and the traffic light phases at Graham Road, make changes in real time.
One of the next steps is, working with TfL, to eliminate a series of banned turns that were implemented in recent years to reduce through-traffic in lieu of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. This will reduce dangerous manoeuvres and improve traffic flows at these locations.
Detailed traffic surveys will take place before the end of the year.
CLLR CHRIS Kennedy, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Leisure, on how new low traffic neighbourhoods will help rebuild a healthier Hackney:
My walk home takes me along Richmond Road, a road usually blighted by levels of traffic it was not built for.
Since we introduced a new low traffic neighbourhood in London Fields, I have seen more people walking and cycling there than I have ever seen before, clearly enticed by cleaner, quieter streets.
This immediately shows the potential low traffic neighbourhoods have to transform the way our neighbourhoods feel.
But it also highlights an incredible opportunity to transform our health.
In Hackney, pollution kills. As a local authority area, Hackney has the sixth highest death rate in the country from poor air quality.
Across London, nearly 10,000 people die every year from air pollution.
40% of traffic in Hackney doesn’t start or end here and passes through without stopping. Traffic levels in some parts of London are now at pre-lockdown levels or above, the principal factor in increased congestion across the borough.
By taking action to prioritise space on our roads for all of our residents – including our poorest residents, who are much less likely to own a car – we can end the dominance of motor traffic for good and create quieter streets with cleaner air.
The steps we are taking to rebuild a greener Hackney could also have a transformative effect on physical and mental health and make it easier for people to include exercise – even if that’s just walking or cycling to the shops – as part of their daily routine.
As Tracey Fletcher, Chief Executive of Homerton Hospital, put it: “infrastructure for active travel enables people to exercise as part of their daily routine, and being physically active is an effective way to reduce rates of various chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.”
If we are to help people live longer, healthier lives, we must reduce rates of chronic disease, and do everything we can to make it easier for people to exercise.
Our new low traffic neighbourhoods – in Hoxton, Hackney Downs and London Fields – will do just that, helping all residents, including the high proportion of residents in social housing in each area, to get more active. As Cabinet Member for Health, I support these measures and am sure they will lead to better health outcomes for the population of Hackney.
We know that these are significant changes and that there is some disruption while drivers get used to changes. We know that these delays, partly caused by high levels of traffic across London and local, temporary roadworks, are making things difficult for some people.
We are listening to concerns and are asking local people to have their say online so we know where there are issues and can take action where we need to. All residents’ views will be taken into account before a decision is made on whether or not to make changes permanent.
However, I strongly believe that this short-term disruption is a small price to pay if we can not only rebuild a greener Hackney, but a healthier one too, where quieter streets, cleaner air, and higher levels of walking and cycling help people live longer, happier lives.
Find out more and have your say on the new low traffic neighbourhoods and School Streets at:
30 October 2020