Florence Park – firstname.lastname@example.org
Church Cowley – email@example.com
Temple Cowley – firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequently asked questions
What is a low-traffic neighbourhood?
A low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) also known as a liveable neighbourhood is a local area where people are better able to walk, cycle, scoot, wheelchair, and enjoy their street and public realm due to a lower level of through traffic. Shortcutting traffic is prevented through the use of modal filters and bus gates. An LTN leaves no route for through traffic within its perimeter and is usually bounded by main roads and other features such as railway lines or rivers.
Bus gates are ANPR-camera enforced points that allow buses and taxis through, but not private cars.
Connectors (also known as “point closures” or “modal filters”) are physical barriers that prevent all vehicle passing through but allow cycles, scooters, prams and other non-motorised traffic through.
Groups of residents in Cowley are supporting our county council to make active travel safer, having seen how much more walking- and cycling-friendly our streets were during the lockdown. The government is eager to help able-bodied people choose to walk or cycle as the economy recovers. It has given money to local authorities and guidance on how to make active travel a more attractive choice. Liveable Cowley is the concept of a Cowley area with much safer options for walking, cycling, wheelchair usage, scooting, pushing prams and other forms of active travel.
For the time being, public transportation is being discouraged for fears of spreading COVID-19. The government recognises that areas with typically high levels of bus usage could face even worse pubic health outcomes if people substitute their private car to make a trip they used to do by bus. Census data suggest about 50% of trips from Cowley to the city centre are made by bus. Unless local authorities take decisive action, the streets will become even more dangerous places to walk and cycle than they were before COVID-19 and the air all-the-filthier. It is noticeable that when people are walking, in order to socially distance, they sometimes move into the roadway – this would be much safer if there were less traffic.
For residential areas, government guidelines suggest the use of “point closures” to stop short-cutting traffic using residential streets. These are called “modal filters” because they let walking and cycling through but not cars. Government guidelines specifically encourage the creation of “low-traffic neighbourhoods” (also known as “liveable neighbourhoods”) through the use of modal filters. These are an area-wide treatment to ensure that no short-cut is left open in a treated area, typically 1 to 2 square-kilometres but sometimes as small as half a square kilometre.
In early May, the government released the first funds for local authorities to put in place “within weeks” measures to help people choose active modes of transport. They subsequently said: ‘Put concrete measures in place within 8 weeks or you will lose the second round of active-travel funding.’
The county council news item on its active-travel allocations under the first tranche of funding named a handful of streets in the Cowley area as locations for point closures. These particular streets are not sufficient to create liveable neighbourhoods. In other words, on their own they would run the risk of creating new short-cuts to traffic. The reason for doing a liveable neighbourhood approach (which leaves no short-cuts through the neighbourhood) is to induce “modal shift” — to help people choose walking and cycling, if they are able to. Residents in the area who need to will still be able to drive. All roads in the area need to be “liveable” to ensure the modal shift occurs.
“Liveable Cowley” is the application of the liveable neighbourhood approach across the Cowley area. The more of Cowley that can be included in liveable neighbourhoods, the greater the potential for modal shift. This is especially important as most trips done by car are very short (1-3 miles), trips which many people could walk or cycle if they felt safe! Think of the “school run”. There are at least six primary schools in the area or on its immediate periphery.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Write to your county and city councillors as well as to the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Ian Hudspeth, urging them to push forward with holistic plans for the Cowley division, creating 3 liveable neighbourhoods. Find your councillors here: Write to them. You can also sign the petition asking for the three LNs in Cowley. More ideas for what you can do are on the What Can I Do? section of our website.
A liveable neighbourhood (LN), also known as “low-traffic neighbourhood” or “LTN”, is an area roughly one-half to two square kilometres where people are better able to walk, cycle, scoot, wheelchair, and enjoy their street and public realm due to a diminished presence of the automobile.
The COVID-19 lockdown experience has brought calls to “build back better”. An immediate step is the modal filters called for in the government’s emergency funding for active travel. In the medium term, the county’s own aspiration is to develop a number of fully fledged liveable neighbourhoods (“low-traffic neighbourhood” in county parlance). These include not only the modal filters, but pocket parks, on-street secure cycle parking hangars, and other touches to help people enjoy the public space around them. This must be the medium-term ambition for Cowley. For a glimpse, the place to look is the borough of Waltham Forest in London.
Liveable neighbourhood schemes often have to overcome a number of myths. This is becoming less of an issue as schemes such as those in Waltham Forest are now celebrating 5+ years of life. Nevertheless, this website by the supporters of the Waltham Forest schemes is a good myth-busting resource: https://wesupportmh.wordpress.com/myths/
Hate these proposals?
Forty years of Dutch experience and now 5+ years of Waltham Forest experience show that these ideas really work. Nevertheless, not everyone is going to welcome them. Here are some thoughts on specific issues that may arise.
“This is going to clog up ______ road.”
Liveable neighbourhoods are associated with overall reductions in vehicular traffic. The reason is that many short journeys will be done by other mode, where previously they might have been done by car.
In Oxford, the larger context is “Connecting Oxford“. If the enhanced version of this plan (“Connecting Oxford Plus“) is adopted, the impact will be fewer vehicle journeys on the main traffic arteries in East Oxford, with or without the liveable neighbourhoods.
“The (police/fire/ambulance) won’t be able to do their job.”
Experience in Europe as well as in Waltham Forest shows this isn’t a problem. In many cases, journey times improve because there is less traffic on the road — even if the most direct route is no longer possible.
The Borough Commander in Waltham Forest states: “It is my view that this data does not show an increase in response times and therefore that the road closures in Waltham Forest have not had a significant impact on our services”.
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