What are low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs)?
An LTN is an area where motorised traffic is redirected from taking shortcuts through a residential area. In Oxford, this is currently done using physical closures such as planters and bollards.
People can travel through the closures on foot, by bike, using a scooter, or using wheelchairs and other non-car mobility aids. Motorbikes, cars and other motor vehicles will still be able to access all streets but may need to use an alternative route.
The closures are not intended to block cars from individual streets, but to reduce the speed and volume of traffic flowing through residential areas.
Can I still drive to any address within an LTN?
Residents in the streets within an LTN can still drive to their homes, as can people visiting them or delivering to them. However, they may have to take a different route to avoid a partial closure.
Where are the Oxford low traffic neighbourhoods located?
There are three low-traffic neighbourhoods in Cowley, located in Temple Cowley, Church Cowley, and Florence Park areas. You can read more about them.
We are also trialling three LTNs in east Oxford in the Divinity Road, St Clement's, and St Mary's areas. You can read more about them.
What is the history behind low-traffic neighbourhoods?
Low-traffic neighbourhoods are a part of the UK government's Active Travel initiative which comprises several plans to improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions and boost healthier travel choices for cities and towns across the UK. The schemes are inspired by models in the Netherlands including LTNs in Groningen, Utrecht and Amsterdam. This is where the term mini-Holland comes from, referring to schemes encouraging a shift from car to bike on short journeys.
LTNs are being implemented in several cities and urban areas across the UK but are not a new concept. For example, an LTN was installed in De Beauvoir Square in Hackney, London, in the 1970s to make the streets safer for children.
What is active travel?
Active travel describes work that aims to promote and better facilitate active and sustainable travel modes: walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling, and the use of public transport and car share. By supporting and encouraging active travel, we can help improve people’s health and wellbeing, reduce traffic congestion and help address the climate crisis. See more about active travel.
What is the Active Travel Fund?
In response to the 2019 UK Government paper Advancing our health, a £2 billion package was announced in May 2020 to ‘create a new era for cycling and walking’, with £250 million allocated for an ‘emergency active travel fund’ in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, the council was successful in winning a £3 million bid to promote active travel. You can read how the funding was allocated on our website: Background to DfT Active Travel Fund
As a part of this, the Oxford Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) sets out a policy to introduce LTNs to support ambitious targets to increase both commuter cycling and all cycling trips in Oxford by 50% by 2031.
Read more on our webpage Active travel
Is funding this work contributing to a rise in council tax?
No, the low-traffic neighbourhoods are funded by the Department for Transport's Active Travel Fund, so it has no relation to council taxes.
Can the funding be moved and be spent on other council priorities?
No, the funding is separate from other council spending and can only be used for active travel initiatives.
How are the areas chosen for LTNs?
There are many key factors that recommend an area for a low-traffic neighbourhood. These include poor air quality, high traffic volumes, urban density, a high number of vulnerable road users, and a lack of green space.
Areas where there is a high number of schools, lower than average access to public transport, and a higher number of road traffic accidents may be suitable for LTN trials.
The eastern area of Oxford has a high population of young families and a mix of primary and secondary schools, as well as a large number of children travelling through to schools in other parts of the city, and outside the city.
Only 34% of households in east Oxford own a car; the area needs better cycling connections and safer roads for all users.
Will low-traffic neighbourhoods only benefit the streets with closures?
No, by making it safer and easier for people to travel by cycling, wheeling, scooting or on foot, more people can choose those travel modes. In turn, the overall volume of motor traffic on main arterial roads should also reduce in time – making these roads safer and quieter, and the air around them cleaner.
Will traffic be displaced on to other roads in the area?
We continue to monitor air quality and traffic dispersal on arterial roads and roads connecting to the low-traffic neighbourhoods. Low-traffic neighbourhoods are just one aspect of the wider programme that is supporting healthier, more sustainable travel, as outlined in the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan.
What consultation has been carried out so far?
What is an experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO) and how is it used?
An experimental traffic regulation order allows the council to introduce a scheme as an experiment and trial it for at least six months but no more than 18 months. At the end of the first six months, the council assesses the impacts and decides whether to confirm, cancel or extend the ETRO for up to 12 months longer to allow further consultation and monitoring.
How do you assess the possible impact of LTNs?
A statutory Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) is conducted to assess the projected impacts of the LTNs on all groups with protected characteristics (such as disability, age and gender). Through the consultation process, we also receive considerable valuable feedback from people.
A separate Climate Impact Assessment is conducted to assess the projected climate costs and benefits of the scheme.
Can emergency and waste services access roads within an LTN?
Yes. All bollards are lockable and specific keyholders, including waste and emergency services, can drop the bollards down when needed for access.
We continue to work with waste and emergency services to review the closure locations so that we can make changes if needed to minimise any issues.
If there are requests for access during an incident, for instance from utility companies, we can unlock and lock bollards for one-off access requirements.
When access is required during an incident, the roads will legally remain as ‘no-through’ roads unless specifically signed by county council, city council or emergency services to show otherwise, and fines will still apply.
What happens if there are planned roadworks and I can’t access my street because it contains an LTN closure?
During planned road closures, we will drop specific LTN bollards to temporarily allow through traffic if there is no suitable alternative route. We will let people know of such works and temporary arrangements in advance where possible. You can also check current and upcoming highways works in Oxford on our website, or report an issue at Fix My Street.
During an incident, information about traffic diversions will be made available as soon and as widely as is possible – usually through emergency services and local travel broadcasts.
How can I build my confidence as a cyclist?
Our active travel initiatives aim to make cycling, scooting, walking and wheeling safer and more comfortable.
To build cycling confidence and skills, we offer free cycle training for children.
Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service launched free cycle training for adults in February 2023..
Safety advice is also available on Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s website: Cycle Safety
My journeys by bus take longer
We are aware of some delays to bus journey times. The council remains in regular contact with the bus operators to discuss not only low-traffic neighbourhoods but wider council policy.
There has been a lot of vandalism, how are you managing that?
County council officers have very carefully reviewed the options available for more robust bollards. Steel bollards had initially been considered. Learning from other councils that experienced similar issues with vandalism and, following discussions with a range of suppliers, we concluded that wooden bollards would be a better solution.
We also work closely with Thames Valley Police to mitigate vandalism.
Who is looking after the planters?
We are looking to work with groups of local people to plan how you would like the planters to look and function and set out how they will be looked after. If you would like to hear about the greening events, please email email@example.com.
Who is exempt and can drive through the LTN closures?
Emergency services, waste collection and specific stakeholders are exempt.
Will LTNs cause more accidents?
The objective of LNTs is to improve safety for all road users. We continue to monitor all aspects of traffic in the LTNs areas. We are working closely with other authorities and local cycling and walking groups to improve road safety wherever we can throughout the county. You can access statistics for highways accidents in the county in the last calendar year on our Road casualties webpage.
Who do I contact if my business can’t get a delivery?
Email the project team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why is there a metal plate over the bollard socket in the road?
This is to make them safe.
Where can I find out more about having a school street?
How do we request more signage on the road as lots of cars now turn around?
Email the project team at email@example.com.
How do I contact my ward councillor?
Please use the Find Councillor function on our website, which allows you to find your councillor and their contact details.
Will automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) be surveillance?
No, ANPR cameras only collect number plate information.