Low-traffic neighbourhoods

Many residential neighbourhoods have through routes for cars, and have too much car traffic. Minor streets are congested, dangerous and unpleasant.



A low traffic neighbourhood can be created by closing roads at particular points to motor vehicles, but allowing people to walk and cycle everywhere. Vehicle access to all properties is still possible, but people cannot drive through.


Road closures can be combined with pocket parks, cycle parking and other public realm improvements. In Waltham Forest, low traffic neighbourhoods led to 56% reduction in traffic within the neighbourhood, and 16% reduction in the wider area. Within 1 year, people were walking and cycling 41 minutes more each week, on average.

Visit https://wesupportmh.wordpress.com/ for more information about the Waltham Forest schemes.

The Living Streets website has more information about low traffic neighbourhoods in general.

What are the health benefits of low traffic neighbourhoods?

Reducing motor traffic is a key component of creating ‘Healthy Streets‘, which are quiet, sociable, pleasant streets with benefits for physical and mental health. King’s College has studied the Waltham Forest schemes and estimates several months gain in life expectancy across the population, from reduced pollution and increased walking and cycling.

Do low traffic neighbourhoods increase congestion on surrounding streets? 

There may be more congestion initially as drivers get used to the new layout, but in the longer term low traffic neighbourhoods encourage people to change their travel habits and drive less for short journeys. Traffic monitoring after similar schemes has shown that traffic volumes reduce overall. In Walthamstow Village low traffic neighbourhood there was a 56% decrease in traffic volumes within the scheme area and only 11% increase on the boundary roads, but traffic was more spread out through the day with lower peak traffic flows, and there was no impact on bus services.

Low traffic neighbourhoods are most effective when combined with other measures to encourage a shift from driving to other modes of transport, such as providing a network of protected cycle lanes, and road user charging. 

Where else have low traffic neighbourhoods been built?

In the Netherlands every town and city has low-traffic neighbourhoods, with through traffic able to use only the main roads. People walk or cycle for most journeys. Many cities are now following this trend – Barcelona is closing 2 out of 3 roads in the grid to through traffic and making them into pleasant spaces for people, Paris aims to make 100% of streets cycle-friendly by 2024, and even Birmingham is planning to close its city centre motorway and remove through motor traffic from within the ring road.

Where could low traffic neighbourhoods be built in Harrow? 

TfL’s Strategic Neighbourhood Analysis shows which areas have well-connected networks of minor roads and suffer from through traffic. The Harrow portion of the map is shown below: