LTN scheme in Forest Gate, East London (Picture: Matt Seymour via Unsplash)

Cycling UK chief calls on Rishi Sunak not to turn LTNs into a ‘political football’

The chief executive of Cycling UK has called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak not to use low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) as a “political football”, after he ordered a review of them in England.

In initial reaction to the news broken in the Sunday Telegraph, Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK chief executive, said: “Rather than attempting to pit drivers, cyclists and pedestrians against one another through divisive rhetoric, and turning LTNs into a political football, the government should be celebrating their popularity and success.

“Evidence shows LTNs are overwhelmingly popular, and their support only increases once they’ve been implemented and people see the benefits.

“It’s lazy to label LTNs anti-car, people want to be less car dependent. Liveable neighbourhoods give people the opportunity to drive less and cycle more, consequently enjoying cleaner air, safer streets and less traffic and congestion.”

An LTN is a scheme introduced by the Government to try and reduce traffic in residential areas through a series of different measures.

The aim is to lower the number of vehicles on the roads and increase the number of people walking or cycling.

LTNs have been set up across the UK in more than 100 local authorities, with councils being given tens of millions of pounds of Government funding to support their implementation since 2020.

Sunak said he has ordered the Department for Transport to review the schemes to see if they were working.

He told the newspaper: “The vast majority of people in the country use their cars to get around and are dependent on their cars.

“I just want to make sure people know that I’m on their side in supporting them to use their cars to do all the things that matter to them.”

Opponents to the schemes, including other Tory MPs, have criticised LTNs for creating traffic in other areas, meaning drivers end up spending more time in their cars.

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Mitchell said that LTNs are not always “a magic bullet on their own”.

She added: “They need to be designed in consultation with communities and may need additional measures, such as investment in healthy and sustainable alternatives. This will ensure they reduce traffic overall rather than simply sending it elsewhere.

“If done well, their benefits are enormous. That’s why Cycling UK is urging the government to encourage their take up – for the benefit of everyone in our communities, and for the planet.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said that a national review was “unnecessary”, and local authorities are “best placed to make decisions” on local circumstances.

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