Cowley Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Residents of the Cowley division of Oxfordshire County Council have until 18 December to complete a survey on the proposed low-traffic neighbourhoods for Cowley. For more information, see below and the residents’ website

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.

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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.

Liveable neighbourhoods

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.

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Example: Waltham Forest (London)

A vision for Cowley

The starting place for better liveability is removing through-traffic. This can be accomplished by the use of modal filters and bus gates. 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 also: pocket parks, on-street secure cycle parking hangars, and other touches to help people enjoy the public space around them. 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:

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.

Perimeter roads

“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.

Emergency services

“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”.