Mapping London’s new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

My colleagues Anna Goodman, Ersilia Verlinghieri, Irena Itova, Megan Sharkey, and I have been starting to analyse where active travel infrastructure is being built in London. There’s literature on the benefits of these kinds of schemes, but also, articles from a range of contexts (particularly North and Latin America, where an active travel equity perspective is perhaps more advanced) critiquing where it has been built.

Much of the equity analysis has covered cycling more than walking – such as Lindsay Braun and colleague’s analysis for 22 large US cities, which helped inspire what we’re doing. There are existing datasets of bike routes, both from Open Street Map and Transport for London, which can be used to look at whether cycle infrastructure is more prevalent in (for instance) less deprived areas of London, or vice versa.

But what about walking? Our research into the Mini-Holland schemes has suggested that many of those interventions – such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods or LTNs, made up of areas with ‘modal filters’ to restrict through motor traffic – might be interpreted primarily as walking interventions, because most of the increased active travel is walking. (Arguably, cycling will tend to need more than walking in the way of longer-distance strategic routes to complement local and area-level improvements).

Hence we are very interested in looking at what already existed in London, LTN-wise (in practice, likely to mean bollards, given that we have only recently started thinking about ‘LTNs’), as well as what has been built under Covid-19 emergency funding. Have better-off areas benefited disproportionately? Or has the distribution been more equitable? And how does the picture change when we look within boroughs (given that only some boroughs have implemented any LTN schemes at all)?

Our draft map is below – and it’s been a challenge to combine information for 33 districts , so we very much welcome comment (email activetravelacademy@westminster.ac.uk with the subject line ‘LTN Map’) on where we might have missed something or included something that ended up not being built (yet). We have sourced information from many places and it includes (i) modal filters or substantial timed restrictions that reduce through motor traffic, and (ii) ‘LTN areas’ comprising modal filters and restrictions. For the LTN areas, we have mostly used what councils themselves defined as an ‘LTN area’, although in a few cases we have defined our own areas where we couldn’t find this. In a few cases, it didn’t seem like there was an LTN (e.g. a bollard was being used to reduce motor traffic at a school, rather than a wider area scheme).

This map is intended to cover schemes implemented from March 2020 to end of September 2020 as a cut-off point for our analysis, although we will be periodically updating it (we are interested for instance to look at this alongside the decennial Census data, which will be collected at the end of March 2021). To tell us about anything we’ve got wrong, please email activetravelacademy@westminster.ac.uk with the subject line ‘LTN Map’.

We will release a final version of the map later this month in which the data will be available to others to download and use. So watch this space 🙂

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