Road barriers blocking off streets to be removed as soon as possible
New barrier as part of an LTN in Tooting. Picture: Change.org
The controversial low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) trials in Wandsworth have been scrapped following a review by the council.
It is understood the ‘planters’ used to block off the side streets to vehicles are being removed as soon as possible.
Many residents have already started celebrating. Lorna Blane is part of the group OneWandsworth, who have been fighting against the LTNs which occurred alongside TfL’s temporary changes to Cycle Superhighway 7.
She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service, “We’re having a celebratory cup of tea in the park because the first part of our protest has seen some success.
“The council has rightly listened to all of the residents, but we do have more to do. The TfL scheme is still a massive concern with the way that they have still blocked off the High Road and blocked off suppliers to shops. People can’t get to the shops as easily.
“We still have an issue with the cycle wands because they still will block emergency services reaching their destination. We’ve got a fire station at one end of the road and St George’s at the other. So that’s still a massive concern to us.
“It’s half a victory, but the fight is not over yet.”
The group will be going ahead with their protest this Saturday (12 September) between 2 and 5pm along Tooting High Street to highlight the issues with TfL’s changes.
Participants will be lining both sides of the road, at a social distance and holding banners. They will ask motorists to “toot” if they want to see the changes reversed, and will be using the hashtag #TootinginTooting.
The LTN trials were introduced by Wandsworth Council last month to make residential streets more bike and pedestrian friendly, and to deter rat run traffic.
They were part of a series of measures introduced as part of the COVID response to free up additional space in support of social distancing, and to promote alternative forms of travel as people gradually return to work.
It was also hoped they would encourage people to use more sustainable forms of transport and improve air quality. However, an initial review of the trials has identified concerns with emergency access and traffic flows.
The council says this has been worsened by additional changes that TfL is making to red-route roads in the borough, including the A24 Balham High Road to Tooting High Street.
This has included moving bus stops, installing cycle lane segregation, banning turns at a number of junctions and removing parking.
The council admitted that its and TfL’s schemes coinciding with one another had “caused confusion and long traffic queues”.
Wandsworth Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning and transportation, councillor John Locker, said: “We have monitored the traffic flows and listened to feedback from residents and businesses. We have also spoken to our partners including local hospitals and key services to hear the impact on them.
“It is clear that the LTNs are not delivering the benefits we want to see. In fact it looks like the combination of changes in areas like Tooting, where TfL are making changes to the main high road, are unfortunately having the opposite effect. That is why we have taken the difficult decision to pause and re-think about how we can achieve our objective of delivering healthier, safer streets.”
He added: “We all want to do what is right environmentally, whilst maintaining people’s ability to travel and making sure town centres and high streets function properly. It’s important that we listen to what people are saying so that we get this right.”
The council will continue to review the impact of TfL’s road changes to the A24 in Balham and Tooting to see if the issues improve over the coming weeks.
Speaking about the traffic scheme in Putney, Council Leader Ravir Govindia said,"People will no doubt have heard the news of our decision to suspend our Low Traffic Neighbourhood pilot scheme in West Putney.
"Once it became clear that the scheme was not achieving the success we had hoped for, and that local people were unconvinced of its merits and frustrated at its introduction, it was an easy decision to make, and we acted.
“We had promised to listen to our residents and businesses and our aim is always to seek to improve and better their lives at every opportunity. So when the scheme was undermining that ambition, we acted."
TfL said that as the capital emerges from lockdown it will need to help people walk and cycle more often, thereby reducing demand for public and private transport and it will monitor the effects of these temporary changes to Cycle Superhighway 7 over the coming months.
It is also encouraging residents to give feedback by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter
September 14, 2020