Low traffic neighbourhood update – Dec 2020

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Harrow’s low traffic neighbourhood trials were put in place to create safe, quiet walking and cycling routes and help people to reduce their car use. In accordance with advice from the World Health Organisation and instructions from government, these changes were required rapidly to help to reduce pollution and enable people to travel safely during the COVID-19 recovery – see our earlier reports from the summer and October.

During the early stages there is expected to be negative feedback from motorists, particularly in a borough such as Harrow which is so car-dependent. This is because people perceive the immediate changes to driving routes as a loss, and cannot yet appreciate the future benefits of safer streets, better walking and cycling routes, and a healthier community.

Traffic disruption is expected in the first few weeks as drivers get used to the new layout. Over the longer term this will reduce as people switch to other route or other modes of transport, and studies of low traffic neighbourhoods and other traffic reduction schemes have consistently shown a long term reduction in overall traffic volume. This is why the trials need to last at least 6 months, to enable to be able to provide an informed opinion in response to the formal consultation on making them permanent.

Streetspace schemes in the Headstone South / Parkside Way area

Harrow council implemented a well-connected set of interventions in this area which provide new north-south and east-west quiet routes for cycling. There are proposals to improve the connectivity of these cycle routes with new protected cycle lanes, such as along Pinner Road / George V Avenue and Headstone Gardens / Headstone Drive.

Quiet routes that are safe for cycling and pleasant for walking, created by trial low traffic neighbourhoods in October 2020. Base map © OpenStreetMap contributors

Unfortunately the council removed the Southfield Park low traffic neighbourhood (LTN-06) and part of the Pinner View Area scheme (LTN-02) in late November to enable traffic to divert along minor roads while the gas main was replaced on Station Road in North Harrow. Now that the works were completed, we would expect the LTNs to be replaced, but the council has not done this. Instead, they state they will ‘keep these changes in place until we do the overall review of the scheme‘.

These changes mean that the quiet roads have become available for through motor traffic, and it is likely they will become increasingly busy over time, making it more difficult and less pleasant to walk or cycle in the area.

Through routes for motorists created by removing part of the low traffic neighbourhoods (December 2020). These motor traffic flows will disrupt the previously quiet cycle routes. Base map © OpenStreetMap contributors

Traffic counts and congestion

The reason for not restoring the LTNs after the utility works completion seems to be because of motorist complaints (the LTN feedback has so far been mostly negative, but this is expected at this early stage because people tend not to feed back if they are satisfied with the situation). The council’s traffic report in October showed longer queues at Station Road and Harrow View junctions than in June, although in June schools were closed and overall traffic volumes were less all over London.

As shown in the slideshow below, removing the LTNs has not resolved the traffic congestion on the main roads.

What is the way forward?

Car traffic in Harrow is increasing (over 50% increase over the past 10 years) and there is no short term fix. The only solution is to enable and encourage people to use other modes of transport, to reduce traffic in the medium to long term. A network of safe cycle routes and pleasant walking routes is essential.

Increase in motor traffic 2008-2019 in Harrow, from https://roadtraffic.dft.gov.uk/local-authorities/185

Improvements along the main road are needed as well as low traffic neighbourhoods. Parkside Way needs a 20mph speed limit, more pedestrian crossings, and a network of cycle lanes in the area. Residents will benefit from low traffic neighbourhoods in the surrounding areas, as they contribute to a comprehensive cycle network, and reduce danger from cars turning into or out of side roads.

People living in the Pinner View area (LTN-02) were consulted prior to the trial regarding a 6-month trial of the whole scheme, and early termination of part of the scheme means that residents suffered the disruption without the benefits of better streets for walking and cycling. The partial LTN that remains now lacks an important east-west cycle route along Kingsfield Avenue. We therefore recommend that LTN-02 is restored as quickly as possible to minimise the change in driver behaviour, and allow residents to experience a full 6 month trial in order to make an informed decision.

Residents should be consulted on reinstating and expanding the Southfield Park low traffic neighbourhood (LTN-06) to include Manor Way and Priory Way as well, as these are parallel minor roads which are also unsuitable for through traffic.

Please write to local councillors and leave feedback on the Harrow Streetspace website (https://harrowstreetspacestrials.commonplace.is/) to ask the council to:

  1. Reinstate LTN-02 (Pinner View Area) to restore the network of safe walking / cycling routes as soon as possible, as per the original consultation with residents.
  2. Consult with residents to expand and reinstate LTN-06, including Manor Way and Priory Way as well as Southfield Park.

We also advocate keeping the other low traffic neighbourhoods (West Harrow (LTN-04) and Francis Road (LTN-03)) and temporary cycle lanes (Uxbridge Road (SC-09), Sheepcote Road (SC-03) and Honeypot Lane (SC-01)) in place, and converting them to permanent schemes.