Stretford is not an area that’s a stranger to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). There are already many existing “filter points”: closures of roads to cars that still let pedestrians and/or cyclists through. A map of all of the modal filters in Trafford has been compiled by Urmston Bee Network. Indeed, there are historic LTNs that are entirely access only for motor traffic, but permeable for active travel:
However, using Emergency Active Travel funds, Trafford Council have now implemented the first new LTN for decades. It will be first delivered as a trial and, if successful, made permanent.
The LTN has been implemented using heavy wooden planters and signage, backed up by legal orders that prohibit motoring. The image above shows the locations of said filters, as well as how traffic flows have changed. Note that the LTN is what’s known as “leaky” rather than perfectly filtered, which means that through access is possible. However, it also means that residents can easily drive to either main road rather than going the long way around.
The LTN has been very robustly installed. The signage is excellent, with signage on the main roads telling motorists not to turn left/right where there are filters, and showing diversion routes. The diversion routes have you follow repeated symbol signs, and they take you along Edge Lane and Kings Road, rather than cutting through.
It’s been immediately clear that these roads are now far quieter than they’ve been for decades, and much safer. This LTN is actually not very well positioned for cyclists. It doesn’t really lead into any cycle routes, and there are two well used routes on either side of it. However, it’s clear that there’s now far more people stopping to chat in the streets. The ambience was once one of noisy polluting motors, but now it’s the rustling of the leaves, birds chirping, and people having a doorstep chat.
Drivers think LTN’s are solely for cyclists. They arent. They improve safety, improve the lives of residents, pedestrians and children. Fantastic.@StephenCatlow
There has been no noticable increase in traffic on the main roads, which were always busy. There does appear to be slightly more traffic (i.e. a couple of cars a minute) on the “leak” route on the map above, however it is not clear whether this is just residents driving through to enter/leave the area, or if it’s actually non-residents cutting through.
The response has been a mostly positive one. Of course this wasn’t a surprise: residents had been asking for measures for well over a decade. A leaflet was also circulated to all the houses prior to installation and a majority of responses wanted the filters.
There has been a little pushback, in the form of a few residents expressing unhappiness on social media. There has been some (faux?) concern over emergency service access. Of course the North West Ambulance service, when directly asked, said it doesn’t affect their response times at all:
Usually the “concerns” some people raise about Emergency Services as a reason to not have LTNs or other walking and cycling facilities are quite selective, as explained in Mark Treasure’s excellent post. Often, when such facilities are removed and roads are clogged with 4 lanes of queuing traffic again, such concerns are never raised again by these people.
According to the council, the majority of the concern is from residents of Kenwood Road. Anecdotally, it does appear to be getting slightly more traffic than the other roads, but still relatively low.
Following resident concerns mentioned above, the council have started another survey. In the survey there are three options. Keep the LTN how it is, re-arrange it to eliminate all through traffic, or remove it entirely.
These new locations would involve moving two of the filters slightly, but would cut off all through traffic. This would make all roads similarly quiet.
As I see it, there are a number of pros and cons with these new proposals vs the current trial. The decision should take into account resident preferences as well as traffic count data. These proposals would mean that residents only have access to one main road: they’d have to drive round the block to reach the other. This might have the potential to convert some previously pro-residents to anti-residents. However, it would be much more likely to win over the residents on the roads with slightly increased traffic.
Another slight downside is the cost of getting a new legal order, and moving the filters, turn restriction signs, diversion signs etc. This is money that could be spent on nearby cycleways. However, if there’s not enough support for the filters in their current location, then it would be better to spend the money relocating them, rather than lose them.
My preference is for the filters to remain in place for the full 6 months (so until April 2021) for the changes to properly bed in, and then if people still want to move them, they can be trialled in the new locations for 6 months.
Traffic counts have been undertaken and, as previously mentioned, there is a survey currently going on. I will revisit this LTN in a future post, seeing how traffic counts changed on the official data, reporting if the filters have moved etc.
The filters have had a transformational effect on the area, very much for the better. It’s shown that LTNs don’t just work in London, but they work up here too, and that many more should be rolled out as soon as possible.