The Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) initiative

About 50 years ago, Dutch local authorities and city planners were beginning to realise that many city streets were unsuitable for unbridled expansion of the motor car and - assisted by public pressure - the principle of ‘woonerf’ (literally ‘living yard’) was born: shared space between pedestrians, cyclists and cars, but with pedestrians having priority. By 2000, there were 6000 of these schemes in The Netherlands. Because of the proliferation of street signs and other street furniture, other concepts such as ‘shared space’ (cf. Exhibition Road in London) and ‘living streets’ replaced them. See also: at


Hackney Council passed a Climate Emergency Resolution in June 2019. This commits the Council, amongst other things, to a future less dependent on the car and promoting the interests of low carbon travel such as walking, cycling and using public transport. These changes are necessary, not just to reduce reliance on fossil fuel, but also to cut pollution levels with the additional benefits of increased safety, less noise and improved health because of more exercise. The introduction of ‘School Streets’ (reducing car access during particular hours) has been accompanied by the introduction of LTN’s involving road closures, reducing rat runs. Many of these schemes are still subject to further consultation and feedback. For more information see:


Predictably, there have been many negative comments, but some of the early opponents have shifted their views. Tom Andrew – a van driver from Canonbury East – comments that ‘no one has to give up their car, it just takes a little longer when I drive my van to work, but when I walk or cycle, journeys are a little more pleasant’. Rafal Sitarz – a self-employed electrician from London Fields – agrees …’yes, it takes a little longer to get from a to b, but overall I am getting used to this and really enjoy quiet streets around my neighbourhood when I cycle. I can happily live with this as it is now’. There are also claims that LTN’s only benefit the ‘better off’. This clearly is not the case, as 70% of households in Hackney do not have access to a car. See also the following link to debunk this claim:


Air pollution is one of the main factors why we should reduce car traffic in residential streets. A new study shows that each car over its lifetime in London costs NHS and society £8,000 due to air pollution with NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide) and PM2.5 (Particulate Matter) the main culprits. See:


Sustainable Hackney supports the Council’s efforts to reduce car travel and air pollution, but also believes that communicating many of its advantages more clearly to the population of Hackney is of great importance. For more information about the Council’s emergency transport plans see also:

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