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LTN debunking links

Do we need another page to debunk some of the more popular (or outrageous) LTN myths?

Well maybe, maybe not. All I know is that I find I’m often repeating the same things over and over again.

Imagine if we could move on from the more pointless stuff (ie why we need to make local streets safe, and why treating side roads needs a different approach to dealing with main roads) – and then maybe more time could be spent dealing with the details, which still needs to be done for each and every project?

Maybe, just maybe.

So here goes:

Links about LTNs in general

LTN myths debunked

Arguments against LTNs

I’m not saying I agree with any of these. But these are locations where you might be able to find a reasonable level of discussion about some of the problems which have been experienced with LTNs.

Can there be balance?

It might initially seem hard to find balanced opinions about LTNs. This isn’t because LTN advocates are so “extreme” in their support that they don’t accept that schemes can be flawed. It’s more because the sensible voices on either (or indeed any) side are often drowned out in the noise.

This doesn’t mean LTN critics shouldn’t be heard. Of course they should. But perhaps if we calm down and step back a bit from some of the more nonsensical rhetoric, we can then get back and look at some of the key questions which will indeed vary from one place to the next.

I’ve yet to encounter an LTN advocate who honestly thinks that if you install an LTN, traffic on the main road is just going to vanish. Nor have I had a sensible discussion with any serious LTN opponent who argues that 100% of all previous car trips will continue to be by car.

So if we can accept that traffic displacement (or indeed evaporation) is going to be somewhere between 0% and 100%, then can we find some view points which have been through this in a balanced fashion.

For now, I’m starting here, but I do hope to expand this:

On LTNs and Disability

If there’s one thing that has become more emotive than anything else, then it’s the argument about disability.

First things first – yes, I can talk about my disability but no, I can’t talk about yours.

Does this mean I have the “right” to lobby for my beliefs over anyone else’s? No, but we all benefit from safer, smoother and quieter roads. These are givens. The right to live and move safely is a fundamental right. So if people claim that blocking off rat runs impinges on this because traffic is “displaced”, then shouldn’t we consider that too?

I would still caution against this logic. Firstly, the links above already cover the displacement argument in many ways. Secondly, we need to consider whether objections to recent changes are because of the change itself, or because there is actually a serious long term problem that needs addressing.

The report below gives some detailed lived experiences which provide some very useful information on the impacts of LTNs on people with disabilities. I think the stories are very detailed and I think there is much in this report that is well worth noting.

However, I also think it needs to be taken with a very large caveat. If we accept claims about traffic congestion “due to LTNs” causing undue distress, then surely we must accept these for all congestion, and not just that which has allegedly been caused by LTNs?

If we do this, then the main focus of all cities needs to be to keep congestion to a minimum. In order to do this, we need to learn from the cities which have achieved this. Data tells us that these cities are most likely to be in the Denmark or the Netherlands, where LTNs are common place.

So if LTNs are the problem, why are they also part of the solution?

Pave the Way report (Transport for All)

A chance to comment

I’ve posted some links for further reference. Many of these links are posted by campaigning organisations. That means they probably don’t (or can’t) take comments. That’s not because they don’t want to engage, it’s just not something they can reasonably devote resources to.

I’m an individual blogger. I campaign on reducing the noise and danger of traffic, and I focus on mental health. I’m more than happy to take comments, and if they raise points I can respond to, then I will.

If you just want to rant against your local LTN, please try your local or national newspaper.

 

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Ideas With Beers and Traffic Anxiety

This is a link for the contribution I made to Ideas With Beers on the 2nd February.

At the moment, this is the best content I have in respect of generally explaining what I think is meant by “traffic anxiety”, and why it is a problem in its own right, in addition to the widely reported problems with traffic in general, or with road danger.

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Subjective or Statistical Safety?

Should we be treating actual road danger as the top priority, or is it more important to make people feel safe?

Is it more important to feel safe or to be safe?

You might say that these are the same thing, surely, but this isn’t always the case.

I know exactly what bothers me most when I go out. It’s not necessarily the thing that’s most likely to kill me. I get upset by bullying motorists, especially if the tailgate and beep and rev their engines behind me when I’m cycling.

But is this going to kill me? Probably not. However reckless and anti-social this behaviour is, the driver knows that I’m there. Most cycling fatalities (about 75% in fact) occur at junctions. The usual response of the driver is that they didn’t see the cyclist, or that they saw them too late. By “taking the lane” and being more assertive, there’s no question I’m exposed to more bullying. But I’m also a lot more visible at junctions.

There are numerous other situations where a road situation might feel safe (soft kerbs, gentle paving and so on), but give a false sense of security. It could also be argued that one of the safest places to cycle would be in the hard shoulder on a motorway. Of course, the sense of danger would be intolerable, and of course it is quite rightly illegal, but you would at least be cycling in your own “protected” lane.

 

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Fear of Flying v Traffic Anxiety

One of the more obvious ways to compare the anxieties I have when dealing with dangerous drivers would be to consider how our road networks make people fearful, when compared with getting on an aircraft and experiencing fear of flying.

However, there is always one fundamental difference between the two environments. Whilst fear of flying isn’t just about being worried that the plane will crash (this appears to be the dominant factor in about half of sufferers), nobody can question the fact that flying is inherently safe.

So fear of flying is a very real fear, but it’s not one that is matched by the actual risk. There’s also nothing that any airline or plane maker could do to mitigate this risk. In 2017, the entire global airline industry managed to enable billions of journeys, and nobody at all died on any jet service as a result of their plane crashing. Even if this happened for a decade or more, there would still be a fear of the plane crashing, because these plane crashes, or indeed movies featuring them, would still be in memory.

Hence, any attempt to treat fear of flying can only ever be about treating the patient. For those who suffer from flight fear, but who are more worried about being confined in tight spaces, or about similar matters which relate to their possible behaviour when on board, the treatment is the same.

It’s true – I react very badly to dangerous driving. It’s quite possible that my anxieties are treatable, but treating this anxiety would do nothing to reduce the danger at source. Even if nobody ever felt fearful when travelling on our city streets, we’d still need to deal with this danger, because cars do actually kill 5 people per day in the UK alone.

 

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Necessarily Negative

Necessarily Negative is going to be one of the recurring themes of this blog.

Do I have to keep talking about all the down sides of trying to walk cycle in this city?

Yes, of course I do. I am blogging about traffic anxiety and the problems this causes with getting around. I can’t talk up the positives of walking or cycling until such a time that I can go out and go places and have a reasonable expectation that I won’t encounter situations which cause aggrivation.

It is the actions of individual drivers which make getting around this city a nightmare. It is Coventry City council which has repeatedly made decisions which have inflamed this situation and made it worse.

Does that mean I have to be negative about everything? No, of course not. Within the scope of a longer conversation or a response to a consultation, there’s always space to talk up the positives. I will elaborate on all of this in future posts.

Why don’t I even bother with constructive criticism these days? This is largely because this is what I tried to do in the 40 or so times I have been to planning meetings to ask for improvements to development schemes. The final straw was when comments I made supporting a development “in principle” were taken as not objecting, when actually I was raising some very valid material concerns. In a city where the council is this cynical, there is little point wasting time dressing things up.

There are also other people in this city and elsewhere who are doing a great job to paint a positive picture. I fully support everything they are doing., but the council also still needs to be held to account.

That gives me even more reason to be Necessarily Negative here.