Council transport chief grilled on impact of Hackney’s 19 low-traffic areas

Panels go up for the new Stoke Newington LTN. Photography: Julia Gregory

Campaigners have quizzed council bosses on the impact of Low Traffic Neighborhoods (LTNs) on schools and homes located outside the scheme boundaries.

Hackney has 19 LTNs, with those in Hackney Downs, Homerton and Hoxton West now in place permanently after a trial period.

The borough also has 40 school streets, which prevent cars from using nearby roads at the start and end of the school day.

LTN critic Clair Battaglino said she feared the measures “would shift traffic from areas with cleaner air to roads where many of Hackney’s most deprived schools are located”.

Hackney’s transport chief, Cllr Mete Coban, said: “We’ve seen some very decisive action on what we can to improve air quality.”

He said LTNs are not the only solution to air pollution and added that ‘what we need to see is fewer people crossing Hackney to get to where they need to go, and we have to see people take fewer short trips and take public transport. , cycling and walking.

LTNs prevent drivers from using the roads during rush hour and were introduced to discourage the number of motor vehicles on Hackney’s roads and reduce air pollution.

Many of them came during the pandemic to help with social distancing, but some were already in preparation.

According to the council’s latest research, there was an almost even split in favor of keeping or removing LTNs.

Transport for London has funded similar programs across London as part of the climate emergency and pandemic response.

Residents raised their concerns at Hackney’s cabinet meeting this week, and further issues will be discussed in full council tomorrow.

Cllr Coban said: ‘What we want to see is a reduction in car use in Hackney.

He said air quality monitoring is crucial, with 300 sites measuring air quality at LTNs. Each road closure is considered on its merits.

The transport boss added: “One of the main aims of low traffic schemes is to improve public health, reduce overall air pollution and encourage active travel.

“We know that in Hackney we have one of the worst air pollution levels in London. As a centrally located borough, many people pass through Hackney to get where they need to go.

He said there “has to be that right balance to make sure our children don’t grow up with stunted lungs.”

Some pollution levels near school streets have dropped by 74%, he said.

Resident Ruth Parkinson wanted to know when the results of an independent survey of the views of TNLs commissioned by the council will be available.

Cllr Coban said traffic was down 38 per cent inside the LTNs and 2 per cent on trunk and border roads.

He said the latest research found that 26% of respondents said they were encouraged to walk or run, and 24% said they were encouraged to cycle.

“It also showed significant support for our aims to build a greener Hackney scheme, with 66% of people in favor and 72% of people backing all or part of our school streets to make them permanent,” he said. added.

He said that 79% of people know about LTNs. However, they are divided on their maintenance, 48% being in favor of maintaining all or part of it, and 47% wishing to remove it.

Imogen O’Rorke asked what is being done to mitigate the impacts of motor vehicle pollution on people “with low incomes, people from ethnic minorities, the elderly and children”.

Cllr Coban said LTNs are “proven to benefit” vulnerable members of the community, and those on lower incomes are more likely to use public transport, with only a third of residents owning a car.

He said council will work with residents to make changes to LTNs.

“We want to see reduced car use so that you and your neighboring residents don’t have to suffer from bad air pollution,” he added.

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