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Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Waltham Forest with woman walking with a bike

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

LTN's get rid of cut-through motor traffic in residential areas and help communities thrive: people walk and cycle more and use their cars less.


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We campaign for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, also known as LTNs –  a term we popularised in our seminal 2019 report on this topic.

These are groups of residential streets bordered by main roads. Every resident can drive onto their street, but it’s harder or impossible to drive through the neighbourhood from one main road to the next.

People currently drive 8 billion vehicle miles a year in London, and 40% of motor traffic is on minor roads. By removing through-traffic, the streets in a Low Traffic Neighbourhood see dramatic reductions in motor traffic levels.

This means less noise, air pollution and less road danger. Children can play out, neighbours can catch up and chat, and people feel safe to walk and cycle around their neighbourhood.

Crucially, cutting through-traffic on side streets doesn’t add significantly to congestion on the surrounding main roads after the first few months.

That’s why our original 2020 Climate Safe Streets report called for through motor traffic to be eliminated from London’s side streets and neighbourhoods by 2028.

Our 2019 LTN reports

We worked with Living Streets to produce two leading documents on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in 2019: an LTN handbook and an introduction for policy makers. Download them below.

Evidence for LTNs in London

  • ‘The impacts of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in London – a summary of evidence’ by Transport for London. 2023.
  • We got the first LTNs in London put into Waltham Forest in 2012 (see our LTN reports above). The average road within the Waltham Forest LTN saw a 44% reduction in vehicles and a 2mph drop in average motor vehicle speed. Motor traffic levels also went down by over 5% on the main road nearest the second LTN scheme. A 2024 longitudinal review found the LTN programme generated over £1 billion of health economic benefits for a programme cost of just £100 million.
  • This 2022 study from Imperial College London uses data from Islington, north London, to show Low Traffic Neighbourhoods reduce traffic without displacing it to nearby streets, and also reduce nitrogen dioxide pollution both within LTNs and on boundary roads.
  • A 2022 review of data from Low Traffic Neighbourhoods across London from Possible showed LTNs create a substantial overall reduction in traffic and that LTNs do not tend to massively impact main roads either – traffic doesn’t just shift from one road to another, a lot of it just isn’t being driven any more.
  • We’ve also debunked misleading representations of London’s LTN data. A 2022 article in The Times claimed boroughs that put in LTNs during the pandemic had higher motor traffic rises after the pandemic than the two that didn’t. We worked through the data to show the two boroughs that didn’t put in LTNs did put in pedestrianisation schemes and saw more people leave during the pandemic, while the data on other London boroughs post-pandemic indicate LTNs reduced car use not increased it.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 saw LTNs implemented widely across London as part of the Mayor of London and Transport for London’s Streetspace programme. As these new LTNs link up we’re seeing a real change in the number and type of people cycling and the sort of journeys people are making.

Children & LTNs

Kids don’t play outside any more.
In the space of two generations, we’ve seen children’s roaming distance collapse as motor vehicle volumes on residential streets have rocketed.
In the UK 8 in 10 people aged 55-64 regularly played outside their homes as a child.
Today less than 3 in 10 children are allowed to play outside.
Ref: Save the Children, 2022

School Streets

School Streets are roads next to schools that are closed to motor traffic around pick-up and drop-off times. Currently mainly used around primary schools, we are seeing them expanded to secondary schools in some boroughs like Hackney. They often have resident and disabled exemptions and are enforced by anything from numberplate recognition cameras to volunteer staff and parents with pop-up bollards.

School Streets create places ideal for walking, scooting, cycling and play and have been shown to reduce the proportion of families doing the school run by car.

Increasingly, in London, School Streets are being used in conjunction with Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes to disrupt cut-through traffic, boost bus routes and enable walking and cycling for children and families across an entire area – not just the last 100m of a child’s journey to school.

Where people want to live

The funny thing is, since the 1960s in the UK we’ve built cul-de-sac housing and council estates that are essentially low traffic neighbourhoods by default – houses are on little roads that are dead ends, and there are no rat-runs.

So in the UK there are already huge numbers of people living in effectively LTNs where the traffic rates are only around one car an hour and they feel okay to let their kids play out.

The issue instead is that in many of these neighbourhood designs there’s no permeability for anything – the pavements are poor, there are no spaces between the houses, and so they’ve very hard or impossible to cycle through, or even to walk through – driving remains easier to do than other modes. At London Cycling Campaign, we originally saw Low Traffic Neighbourhoods as something for cycling – but actually it’s even more vital for walking, for kids playing outside, and our communities overall.


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Children cycling with legs out - kids playing