It is sad to see George Monbiot labelling all people with logical objections to low-traffic neighbourhoods as barbarians, myth-makers and rightwing debate-deniers (Ignore the culture warriors – low traffic neighbourhoods don’t close streets, they liberate them, 3 August). Most of the derisive comments he makes could just as easily be applied to those who aggressively champion their pro-LTN positions and justify pushing traffic and pollution from their emptied streets on to neighbours’ residential roads as an “expansion of community space”. It’s exactly this kind of absolutist position that has fuelled the culture wars he describes.
In Dulwich, south London, closing the main road between east and west without consultation has physically and socially divided the community, damaged local shops and businesses, and increased traffic congestion on surrounding residential roads. In fact, a recent TfL report described the Dulwich LTN as the root cause of congestion on local main roads, which has in turn reduced the frequency of the local bus service on which we all depend.
The Dulwich LTN has helped some, but hurt others. Because of increased congestion on the roads that are now getting all the traffic, vulnerable residents struggle to get to medical appointments, and air quality is worse for thousands of children walking and cycling to school.
• George Monbiot puts opposition to LTNs down to the influence of angry men across the Atlantic with hard-right politics, which only serves to alienate any democratic opposition. I write as a seventysomething who has lived in Lewisham, south London, since 1970 and always voted Labour in local elections until the most recent election, when I voted Liberal Democrat. My decision was solely based on my lived experience and the impact that LTNs have had on my family.
The neighbouring LTN, which has its boundary only metres from my front door, resulted in massively increased journey times whether by car or bus to our local hospital, supermarket and family in the borough. Despite Monbiot’s statistics, LTNs generate traffic displacement, which pushes air pollution down the road on to already polluted and congested routes. LTNs are not a panacea for the environmental challenges that we face.
After the imposition of LTNs, I wrote to all my local councillors, and the mayors of Lewisham and Greater London. Not once did I receive a reply that in any way engaged with the points I tried to make – principally, to ask politicians to produce a bigger solution and not divide local communities with arbitrary boundaries, metal bollards and planters. For example, a tiered extension of the congestion charge zones from central London out to the M25 boundary might be worth considering, albeit politically tough. LTNs are not working for the many who live outside of those areas.
• Instead of creating low-traffic zones, which have many disadvantages, has the city of Oxford considered making all bus travel in the city free and at the same time making parking in the park-and-ride sites a lot cheaper? It would probably cost the council less than all the hardware that has to be installed to control car traffic in the zones, and would solve the congestion problem as well.