Survey shows huge increase in walkers and cyclists in LTN

A council consultation on the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Crystal Palace  closes tonight, with some residents who live on the streets affected producing hard data to prove how by closing residential roads to rat-running vehicles more people have been using them for walking and cycling.

LTNs have seen more people using bikes, even on the hilly roads of Upper Norwood

The LTN schemes across London have been funded by central government, with keen cyclist Boris Johnson giving his support. Andrew Gilligan, Johnson’s close adviser when he was Mayor of London, has been appointed to the board of Transport for London, where he has been advocating the policy which is intended to change public habits and reduce the use of motor vehicles.

Now a report by resident campaign Shape Better Streets reveals a dramatic increase in walking and cycling in the Crystal Palace and South Norwood Low Traffic Neighbourhoods since Croydon Council closed some streets to through traffic in the summer.

Opponents of the scheme – who include members of the Road Haulage Association and the Bromley chapter of the Alliance of Bad Drivers – have tried to claim that the roads are too hilly for people to use bikes, but the figures collected by volunteers show that even on one of the steepest roads, Sylvan Hill, there has been around a three-fold increase in cycling and walking through the day, compared with the month before the experimental closures were introduced.

Last week, between 7 am and 7 pm, 1,250 people walked up and down the street, and nearly 150 cyclists rode up (or down) the 1 in 7 gradient.

A separate count at the crossroads of Auckland Road and Sylvan Hill found that more than 2,100 people walked through the junction between 7am and 8pm, and another 240 cycled.

The areas covered by the LTNs. The consultation closes tonight

The survey also shows how important local streets are for students of nearby Harris City Academy Crystal Palace, with hundreds walking each day along Sylvan Hill and across Auckland Road on their way to and from school. Their journeys are now free from the air pollution and danger caused by the thousands of vehicles a day which previously used these streets – more than half of them speeding, according to council data.

“These survey results show just how deluded are the claims of traffic campaigners that ‘no one walks or cycles’ in the LTN or that ‘it is too hilly for cycling’,” said Katie Crowe, a resident of the area.

“We are seeing hundreds of people a day cycling and thousands walking, three times more than when the streets were still choked with cars and fumes in the summer. It turns out that Sylvan Hill is not the North Face of the Eiger; getting up it, even with children in a cargo bike or trailer is… as easy as riding a bike. The problem before was that few would have been brave enough to share an uphill climb with large numbers of often impatient and aggressive drivers.”

Another resident, Colin Spencer, said, “I’ve been a resident of a street off Auckland Road for over 25 years. It was the low traffic and safe streets that persuaded me to acquire the property. I recall playing on the road with my young daughter at the time.

“Over the years, the local environment has become swamped with noisy, polluting, dangerous, motor traffic. Walking had become unpleasant and cycling only something for the brave. The last few months feel like we have got our streets back. So have the wild creatures among whom we live. I have seen more birds and squirrels able to forage by the roadside.”

Surveys of road users on Sylvan Hill and other roads in the LTN show a huge increase in numbers of cyclists and walkers

A large part of the antagonism towards the schemes in Croydon has been stoked by the pro-car Bromley Council, which has refused to take any LTN money from TfL or the government. Bromley has been named as an interested party in a Judicial Review into Croydon’s LTNs, part of a campaign which has received funding from the Alliance of Bad Drivers.

But as one source living on the Bromley side of the borough boundary said this week, “It has been largely overlooked that Bromley’s own projects in and around the Crystal Palace Park dovetail with the LTN on the Croydon side of the border. 

“So ask yourself, why is Bromley opposing the LTN so vigorously, and supporting residents in taking legal action against it?  Surely the two boroughs should be working together with a view to optimising the whole cross-border package?”

Amy Foster, the chair of the charity Croydon Living Streets, responded to the new survey data, saying, “Experience of schemes elsewhere is that it takes time for people to change their travel choices.

“So we are really amazed that after only three months, we are seeing so many more people walking and cycling. Walking and cycling are great ways of getting the moderate exercise so important for physical and mental health.

“In winter, with parks not open from late afternoon, it is really important that streets are safe and pleasant places to get daily exercise. We must never again let hundreds of Harris students be exposed to toxic air quality and speeding drivers on their way to and from school.”

The full report is available on the Shape Better Streets website here.

The council’s LTN web page is here, including a link to the consultation, which closes at 9pm tonight.


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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8 Responses to Survey shows huge increase in walkers and cyclists in LTN

  1. Ian Ross says:

    Of course those living in their now peaceful roads see the LTN as a good thing. Aside from the fact that it was imposed without consultation and rushed though under the guise of COVID-19 emergency powers most of the antagonism is nothing to do with being pro-car and everything to do with the dreadful impact elsewhere. It’s very nice for those living in newly created peaceful roads and dire for the rest who take the brunt of the displaced traffic. What is, of course, missing from your article is any mention of this or the statistics to show increased traffic and pollution as a direct result of road blockages. Croydon Council’s “consultation” targeted only those living in the area benefiting with mail-shots and the rest of us advised by word of mouth of signs on lampposts. Hardly inclusive and a positive outcome assured. I’m sure the favoured APNR system will boost income as they have around schools.
    The roads are funded by all and are for the benefit of all. Let’s hope the judicial review finds the road blocks illegal and orders their removal. Only then is it right to consider ways of improving the roads for all and not an elite group.

    • Roads do not create traffic. People, in cars, vans and trucks, create traffic. And they cause the pollution which is killing the planet.

      We must use motor vehicles less. Reclaiming streets for people, instead of vehicles, is a positive step towards that.

  2. Lewis White says:

    With the onset of the 20mph limit in Croydon on the vast majority of roads, I think that speeds have come down, albeit that people are probably driving at 25mph-28mph. Previously, the 30 mph limit probably resulted in most people driving 35-38mph.

    This has undoubtedly calmed the traffic, and might even have made people’s driving styles calmer. I would have preferred a national reduction in the urban speed lmit from 30 to 25mph, with enforcement.

    My concern about stopping traffic going down roads is that they seek out other roads. The losers are the people who live in these still un-closed roads, who suffer more pollution.

    If houses are right by the street, I can entirely understand that they might want to see their street closed to through traffic. They are subjected to a huge amount of pollution

    If houses are set back, with a long front garden, the pollution is less.

    I recently (before the most recent lockdown) drove from South Croydon to Crystal Palace Park via South Norwood Hill and Church Road, and the traffic-choked “Upper Norwood Triangle”. The slow speeds going round two sides of the triangle probably added more exhaust pollution to the streets thronged by shoppers than would have been the case when through traffic went up and down the Church Road as it did prior to the one way system some 20 or so years ago. Admitedly, the canyon-like East end of Church Road was then even more grisly, and polluted than it is today.

    On the way back I tried to avoid the busy top of the hill, and to drive instead from Anerley Hill along Hamlet Road and then, crossing the borough boundary from Bromley into Croydon, along the quiet and sinuous, speed-humped as well as 20mph -limited road under the hill, called
    Auckland Road. I have used this route periodically for decades, and have never seen it busy, as the speed humps have been doing their stuff very successfully for several of those decades.
    The houses and flats are set well back from the road. There are lots of trees to soak up pollution.

    All was going sedately and very smoothly at 20mph, through the pinch point at the foot of Hamlet Road, and along Auckland past St John’s Church and a new Brick by Brick development, until a restriction near Howden Road. Buses only beyond this point. Maybe other vehicles, but no cars. Camera enforced !

    So we turned round and took the only other alternative route– back into Bromley borough, down Anerley Hill and along Croydon Road Anerley / Penge Road S Norwood and then South Norwood High Street . Also packed with shoppers on an incredibly narrow footways.

    Other than Auckland Road, now blocked off, there is no alternative East to West intermediate route between Church Road and Croydon Road, an area around a square mile in size.

    The additional mileage for me will have added more pollution to the air as we drove along these longer streets. The residents living along these streets will have been subjected to more pollution (created by my car) too.

    Was I a rat-running monster? Or driving safely at the required max 20mph along the speed-humped Auckland Road, a public highway ? By the way, I am a bus and train user who uses the car as little as possible. But I value the car for leisure as it allows me to see places that I could not by public transport, or get to quickly

    My gut feeling is that the closure of Auckland Road addressed a problem that was not actually a problem. An easy target. It has benefitted residents whose homes are set well back from the road. It has added to the pollution suffered by the less-well-off people who live along the main roads, which are also 30mph, so noisier as well as more polluted.

    My next car will be electric, unless hydrogen comes in for cars, which seems to be less eco-damaging than the batteries. Add a 20mph limit, and tyre-particulate catchers fitted to all cars, there will be far less objection to the car as it will have far less impact on the street environment..

  3. moyagordon says:

    Possibly the first official death attributed to air pollution is a 9 year old girl, Ella Kissi-Debrah who lived in Lewisham. That case really hits home how urgent the problem is of traffic congestion. With our world being turned upside down from COVID maybe now Is a great time to think creatively how we can lessen the effects of cars. As work patterns have changed hopefully employers will allow more flexi-time so that rush hours aren’t as congested. Or similar to Los Angeles car registrations with certain letters or year can only be used on certain days.

  4. Daveh says:

    It’s a no brainer that walking and cycling has increased The number of people “working “ from home has increased four fold. Having lived on Auckland Road for over 25 years I can’t say traffic has decreased. The bus gate is not operating as my neighbors drive through it fouyor five times every day. A request for Croydon to publish the number of fines issued has fallen on deaf ears. Where is the data before shut down versus during shit down. We are not making an equal comparitive. What happens when fans are allowed back to Selhurst Park. Croydon appear to have made up their minds once again. Just as they disregarded the Auckland Rise residents and gave Brick by Brick the go ahead to develop the estate with the disastrous outcome we now have to live with.

  5. Keith Andrews says:

    Your graph shows that in July at least at three points during the day, absolutely no one pedestrians used this road! In one of those “no use” times, the comparison with November shows its highest use. Didn’t anyone think to quality control that information because it undermines any argument you offer in support.
    Unfortunately this whole debate is being skewed by dubious use of numbers by both sides of the argument.

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