What is the people-friendly streets programme?
Islington’s streets belong to everyone. They are a place where life happens and where the community comes together, no matter what our individual circumstances or daily routines look like. But as technology has changed, including the development of sat-navs, we’ve seen more and more traffic taking short cuts through local streets.
We have been listening to local people. They tell us that they want their streets to be friendlier places that are easier for everyone to use; to enjoy being outside in clean air; to make it safer for walking, cycling, using buggies and wheelchairs; to relax or play. Over 70% of households in Islington do not own a car (see appendix 7 in link) and 1/3 of journeys in London are less than 2km, a distance which could be walked or cycled by many people – especially if the roads were quieter.
The introduction of liveable neighbourhoods, low traffic neighbourhoods, School Streets and cycleways under our ambitious people-friendly streets programme will create more space for those who want to enjoy Islington as they walk or cycle. This way we will make Islington a more equal place for everyone.
Why have we introduced people-friendly streets?
In 2019, under the “liveable neighbourhoods” banner, the council committed to improve all residential areas in Islington to create a healthy, more equal, accessible and enjoyable environment, and to enable local people to walk and cycle safely. We set this out in our draft Islington Transport Strategy; our Air Quality Strategy; and our Net Zero Carbon Strategy, Vision 2030. Other examples include our ambitious School Streets programme, installing new electric vehicle charging points and electrifying the council’s vehicle fleet.
But the Covid-19 health emergency and changes to work and travel patterns have had a big impact on the way we use our streets. During the first lockdown in March and April 2020, Transport for London predicted that, without action, traffic volumes would get much worse than before the crisis. That’s why we acted quickly to create more space for local people to walk, cycle, use buggies and wheelchairs as safe alternatives to using public transport. Private car use across London has increased as lockdown eases which is causing congestion, increased road danger, poorer air quality and other negative impacts on health. This is happening in all boroughs, whether or not they have implemented low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).
In common with other London boroughs, we must follow statutory government guidance which states that we need to take steps to encourage more walking and cycling and to enable social distancing.
As COVID-19 restrictions have eased, we have continued to develop and continue our people-friendly streets programme. We want local people to rethink how they use their streets and create spaces for communities to come together, children to play safely with their neighbours, active travel to be safe and accessible, and create a more pleasant street environment with increased greening. As part of this, we are now working to develop liveable neighbourhoods in several areas of the borough. Please see 'What is a liveable neighbourhood?' for more details.
What is a liveable neighbourhood?
A liveable neighbourhood will have quiet, pleasant streets with less traffic where you can safely and comfortably walk, cycle, scoot and use buggies and wheelchairs. It will be greener and healthier, with places to sit and rest, enjoy your street and meet your neighbours.
Liveable neighbourhoods will use “traffic filters” to make streets quieter and safer while still retaining vehicle access to all properties. Please see 'What is a traffic filter?' for more information.
When will you be introducing liveable neighbourhoods?
We want to introduce liveable neighbourhoods in areas across the borough.
The first areas we are planning to develop measures will include Mildmay (Mildmay ward), Highbury New Park (Highbury and Mildmay wards), Barnsbury and St Mary’s (Barnsbury, Caledonian, Laycock and St Mary’s & St James’ wards), and The Cally (Barnsbury and Caledonian wards).
We will also be looking to introduce liveable neighbourhood measures in other areas across the borough. This will include areas where we have previously introduced low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) schemes, to make sure that these areas also benefit from greener streets and improved public spaces and footways.
Will people-friendly streets neighbourhoods be installed near me and how will I know this is happening?
As part of our plans to develop liveable neighbourhoods across the borough, we will be looking at the ideas Islington residents are raising in response to our public engagement to help us design schemes to best suit local needs. Many of the road networks are complex and we need to take time to plan how best to make improvements in new areas.
We will be engaging closely with residents and businesses in all locations where we plan to develop liveable neighbourhood proposals, to hear local people’s views on how the neighbourhood can be improved. We will also run a full public consultation before we introduce any liveable neighbourhood scheme, so you will have an opportunity to have your say. We will be sending out leaflets about our engagement and consultation activity and using our website and social media to make sure that local people hear about it.
Please be assured that we will also do everything we can to ensure residents who are directly affected by the installation of any new scheme receive a leaflet through the door prior to works starting.
When will the consultations take place for the low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs)?
We had been planning initiatives to improve Islington’s streets for some time, but the Covid-19 pandemic has had a big impact on the way we use our streets. We introduced our first phase of low traffic neighbourhoods on a trial basis with a full public consultation as part of the trial. In normal circumstances, we would not have implemented a traffic scheme like this without engaging with residents beforehand.
We have consulted on six out of seven low traffic neighbourhoods roughly 12 months into the trial. We will hold a public consultation for the St Mary’s Church LTN at the beginning of 2023. We held public consultations 12 months into the trials to allow enough time for residents to experience the changes and for traffic patterns to settle down. Running consultations after a year gives residents and road users sufficient time to adjust to the changes. Shorter trials would not take account of seasonal variations in traffic patterns, including school terms and holidays.
For future schemes, we will engage with local people to get their ideas and feedback on our proposals prior to schemes being implemented. This includes our development of liveable neighbourhoods across the borough. We will be engaging with local residents and businesses to get their ideas and views as we develop our proposals, and we will run a full public consultation before we implement any scheme.
How can I have my say?
Get involved with the development of liveable neighbourhoods
We want to work with local people to hear your views and ideas for the development of liveable neighbourhoods. As part of each liveable neighbourhood project, we will engage with local people from the beginning and throughout the development of the scheme.
We want to hear from as many people in each local community as possible. Before we develop plans, we will hold public meetings and activities to hear people’s views about how they would like their neighbourhoods to be improved and use this feedback when developing initial designs.
You can find details of upcoming engagement opportunities on each liveable neighbourhoods' webpage.
You are able to make a formal objection to a traffic order. Please see 'What is an Experimental Traffic Order?' for more details.
What is an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO)?
An Experimental Traffic Order (ETO) is like a permanent Traffic Regulation Order in that it is a legal document that imposes traffic and parking restrictions. However, unlike a Traffic Regulation Order an Experimental Traffic Order can only stay in force for a maximum of 18 months while the effects are monitored and assessed.
An Experimental Traffic Order is made under Sections 9 and 10 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
Once an Experimental Traffic Order comes into force there is a six-month period in which objections can be made. If the ETO is subsequently modified, objections can be made in the six months following from the date of the changes.
Any formal objection to a specific ETO must be in writing and must state the grounds on which it is made. Objections should be sent to:
Post: Public Realm, 1 Cottage Road, London, N7 8TP.
Please note that that any formal objection that is submitted may become a public document and could be published.
In addition to the objection period described above, and the trial feedback surveys, there will be a further opportunity to have your say during the full public consultation which will take place after 12 months to find out what you think of the measures. Based on feedback and monitoring data, we will decide whether the measures will be changed, made permanent or removed at the end of the 18-month trial period.
What is a traffic filter?
Traffic filters are restrictions in the street to prevent motor vehicles passing through. They are clearly marked with a standard traffic sign (for example ‘No Entry’, ‘No Motor Vehicles’, or a ‘bus gate’) and they can also use a physical barrier, such as a bollard, or camera enforcement. Camera enforcement is used to allow buses and emergency vehicles to access the area. The only other vehicles with exemptions are community transport (ACT) passenger vehicles and large refuse, recycling, street cleaning and winter gritting vehicles.
For more information about specific traffic filters installed in existing people-friendly streets neighbourhoods, visit the ‘Our low traffic neighbourhoods’ section on the main people-friendly streets page. Each neighbourhood has its own information leaflet with images of each filter. The locations of each traffic filter are also shown on our public map.
How will you monitor the low traffic neighbourhood trials and measure success?
Before each trial begins we take ‘baseline’ traffic (including pedal cycle) counts in various streets in and around the area, which also give us information on speeds. The primary method we use is automatic traffic counters (black rubber tubes on the ground). We also have access to historic traffic data and can analyse traffic travel times across all of Islington’s roads that are covered by the system. We are also collecting other data relating to air quality and crime rates. Data on emergency service response times is provided independently by the emergency services, and bus times data is provided by Transport for London (TfL).
We repeat the counts in the ‘baseline’ locations at regular intervals during the 18-month trial period. You can find the monitoring reports published to date below.
The pre-consultation reports for the following schemes:
The interim reports for the following schemes:
- St Peter’s
- Canonbury East
- Canonbury West
- Clerkenwell Green
- Highbury West and Highbury Fields - please see neighbourhood webpage for updated report
In general, the monitoring reports show that there has been a decrease in traffic volumes, a decrease in the rate of speeding, no significant impact on crime, anti-social behaviour or emergency service response times. In addition, air quality has changed in line with borough trends. Please refer to each LTNs individual report for specific local context and data. The impact of Covid-19 has been taken into account as we analyse the results, and this is explained in more detail in each report.
To monitor air quality, we are primarily using NO2 diffusion tubes that have been installed at various locations in the borough, including school entrances, roads within each low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) and on the boundary roads. These tubes measure the air’s concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a toxic gas that can be very harmful to health. The tubes are replaced and analysed on a monthly basis. Research suggests that at urban roadside locations in the UK up to 80 per cent of the nitrogen dioxide measured comes from road transport.
Air quality results and analysis feature in the monitoring reports, though typically at least 12 months of data is needed in order to undertake meaningful analysis. Find out more about our air quality work.
Along with consultation feedback, our monitoring data will play an important role in deciding whether the measures will be changed, made permanent or removed at the end of the 18-month trial period.
My road is currently quiet - why does it need to be filtered?
What will happen to traffic on the main roads?
There is a common misperception that traffic is like water – block one route, and it will flood another. But it’s important to remember that traffic is the result of our choices. When walking and cycling are made easier, safer and convenient, and driving slightly less convenient for a shorter journey, it’s likely that fewer people choose to get in their cars.
While the schemes become established there may be some moments in the day where queues form, but as people get used to the changes many will be able to make different travel choices. Evidence from our own monitoring reports and similar projects in London suggests that traffic on the main roads spreads out across the day, bus journey times are not significantly increased and air quality on main roads does not get worse. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, but it is a common trend across schemes.
Our monitoring reports up to October 2021 show that there has been a decrease in traffic volumes across each LTN area (and there has been no significant adverse impacts on the boundary roads), a decrease in the rate of speeding, no significant impact on crime, anti-social behaviour or emergency service response times. In addition, air quality has changed in line with borough trends and has not worsened in any LTN (including boundary roads) compared to wider borough changes, since the introduction of LTNs. The impact of Covid-19 has been taken into account as we analyse the results, and this is explained in more detail in each report.
See question How will you monitor the low traffic neighbourhood trials and measure success? for more details on our monitoring reports.
People-friendly streets make it easier and safer for people to walk, cycle and use wheelchairs, buggies and scooters, by introducing measures to stop traffic from taking short cuts through local streets. Every local trip which is switched from a motor vehicle to another way of travelling means one fewer vehicle on the road, leaving the roads clearer for people who have no choice but to use cars. We will keep the impacts of all changes under close review by monitoring traffic patterns on roads, including main and boundary roads, following the introduction of each people-friendly streets neighbourhood.
This information together with feedback from local people will be used to inform future measures to improve roads for those who live, work, shop or go to school on them. These measures might include better and wider pavements, more and improved pedestrian crossings, more seating, new cycle lanes, speed restrictions, measures to protect bus journey times, more trees or planting to help the greening of the borough, and banned right turns to help traffic flow. Many of these measures will be installed under our people-friendly pavements programme, which begins in 2022.
Can I still drive inside a people-friendly streets neighbourhood?
Yes. It is vital that people who need to use their cars, such as Blue Badge holders, can still do so (see Will there be exemptions for Blue Badge holders?). This is not a pedestrianisation scheme. If you have a car or other motor vehicle you will still be able to drive to your home, as will visitors, but you may need to take a different route. Trade and delivery vehicles will still be able to access all addresses at all times, and emergency vehicles are exempt from all the camera-enforced restrictions.
Near some of the traffic filters we have had to remove a small number of parking bays although we always do what we can to keep this to a minimum and, if needed, we try to find alternative locations for those we remove. This is the case with any current or future scheme.
We are adapting the way we travel in an effort to reduce the number of cars on our streets, and each individual decision to change a mode of travel, away from private car use, benefits everyone. Currently, 1/3 of car journeys in London are under 2km, a distance which could easily be walked or cycled by many.
By delivering people-friendly streets we are encouraging residents who could walk or cycle to consider their travel options before starting their journeys. By choosing an alternative like walking or cycling residents are not only helping the environment and reducing air pollution, but also boosting their physical and mental health. This also helps to leave the roads clearer for people who have no choice but to travel by car.
We understand that it will take time for residents to adjust to the changes. Monitoring data published up to October 2021 for our PFS schemes has shown decreases in traffic volumes across each LTN area (and there has been no significant adverse impacts on the boundary roads), a decrease in the rate of speeding, no significant impact on crime, anti-social behaviour or emergency service response times. In addition, where similar schemes have been introduced elsewhere, in the UK and abroad, many have been successful with residents growing to enjoy their benefits.
Will there be exemptions for Blue Badge holders?
Are there exemptions for people who are not Blue Badge holders?
In response to feedback, and as the next step in improving the accessibility of low traffic neighbourhoods and upcoming liveable neighbourhoods, from January 2023 the council has introduced a new “Individual Exemption” to complement the existing Home LTN Blue Badge holders exemption.
You do not need to have a Blue Badge permit to apply for an Individual Exemption permit. Individual Exemptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. You can find out more about the Individual Exemption here.
There will be exemptions for residents who are Blue Badge holders (find out more about the Blue Badge holders exemptions.) There are no exemptions for other residents and we explain our reasons for this below.
Access to all addresses is maintained. The scheme has been designed so that all residents can access their homes without the need for an exemption. We know that it’s vital that people who need to use their cars, such as Blue Badge holders, can access their home by car at all times. That's why in any of our people-friendly streets neighbourhoods across Islington, all residents are still able to drive to and from their homes, and people are still able to access shops and services in their area by car. The only thing that may change in some circumstances is the route they have to take.
We need to create a safer environment for people to walk, use wheelchairs and cycle. If private vehicles in the area are still able to travel through the restrictions, then we will not see the benefits in terms of improved road safety, air quality and noise pollution that we would otherwise expect. This is because one of the main barriers that puts people off walking, using wheelchairs or cycling instead of driving is not feeling safe when sharing the road with the increasing volumes of traffic in the borough. By preventing all motor vehicle trips through camera-controlled filters (except for emergency vehicles and some council service vehicles) we will make the environment feel much safer, and make it much more likely that local people will begin to travel more by active means.
We need to reduce congestion and air pollution on the main roads. The objective of the people-friendly streets programme is to reduce the overall number of trips, not to displace all traffic from local streets onto main roads. This will only happen if some car trips are replaced by walking, using wheelchairs or cycling. For some journeys the filters will make driving more inconvenient and are in this way designed to encourage those who don’t need to drive to choose a different way to travel, especially for short trips. Every journey switched from driving to active travel (such as walking, using wheelchairs or cycling) removes a car from the road and leaves the roads clearer for people who have no other choice but to drive.
Congestion has risen in Islington (and in London) because every day people make decisions to drive, thinking that is their easiest option. By introducing people-friendly streets, walking, using wheelchairs or cycling become a more convenient choice for people to make - safer, easier and quicker than driving. Every journey switched to active travel removes a car from the roads and leaves the roads clearer for people who may have no choice but to drive.
The overall net-reduction in traffic we are aiming for should also mean that in the future all those who need to use a car will experience less congested, safer journeys.
What will the impacts be on people with disabilities?
The council has carried out a Resident Impact Assessment (RIA) for the overall programme and for each individual scheme. This is sometimes referred to as an Equality Impact Assessment. The RIA evaluates the impacts of the changes on people with different protected characteristics which includes people with disabilities. These documents are available to view on the website pages for each low traffic neighbourhood.
Anyone who can currently access their home by motor vehicle, private car or taxi will still be able to after the people-friendly streets neighbourhood is introduced. People who use walking aids, wheelchairs or mobility scooters will find the streets quieter, safer and more enjoyable with lower amounts of traffic, and fewer drivers using local roads for quick short-cuts.
The council’s people-friendly pavements programme will be introduced in 2022, and will improve conditions for anyone walking (or using mobility aids, including wheelchairs) on pavements. We will provide additional dropped kerbs to make crossing the road easier, improve foliage maintenance and ensure level surfaces are kept clear of unnecessary obstructions. People with visual impairments will benefit from reduced traffic and road danger, and the reduction in noise should help with navigating their local area more easily. It is also important to note that there are no plans to include any new “shared space” areas. Pavement space will be maintained for people walking or wheeling. The quieter and calmer streets should also make the streets more welcoming to people with cognitive disabilities.
Blue Badge holders who live within a low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) will be exempt from camera-enforced filters in that LTN. Find out more about our Blue Badge holders exemptions permits.
Will there be a negative impact on the emergency services?
Resident safety remains a key priority for the council and is one of the key drivers for the programme. We want to be sure that the changes we are making do not have a negative impact on people's health or safety, so before and during our planning for each people-friendly streets neighbourhood we carefully follow the processes set up by the emergency services in London.
We have worked closely, and continue to work closely, with the emergency services before the installation of each scheme to ensure they can access every street and ensure their crews are aware of the changes. Up to October 2021, none of our monitoring reports show significant impacts on emergency service response times.
We spoke to the London Fire Brigade (LFB), the London Ambulance Service (LAS) and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) about the changes we were planning and discussed how the changes and traffic filters might impact them. In some circumstances we adjust our plans on the basis of these discussions.
We have shared, and will continue to share, our maps and suggested routes with all emergency services so they can update their route-planning and mapping software. There will be an adjustment period as the services get used to the new routes, but we expect them to be fully embedded within a short time.
If there's an emergency on your street, the emergency services can still get to your address, as no roads are being closed to motor vehicles. Emergency vehicles can legally pass through camera-controlled filters so their routes across many local streets remain unchanged. Where there are physical barriers, like bollards, these can be unlocked by the London Fire Brigade, who carry keys. In many cases, a filter with a physical restriction is often nearby to a camera-controlled filter, so there is usually an unrestricted route through via a short diversion.
We are monitoring roads in and around each area as the trials progress, and we can make changes if we think we can improve how a scheme works. We also work with the emergency services to monitor the impact that the changes are having post-implementation, and we have made changes based on the feedback we received: these changes include replacing a planned physical (bollard) filter at Wharf Road with a camera-enforced filter.
Our people-friendly streets programme is designed to help residents to lead active and healthy lives, and the changes we are making should make it easier to move around the borough in ways which will also provide benefits to individual and public health.
Is the council using camera-controlled filters to raise revenue?
No. The council does not profit from traffic filter fines. Any revenue generated from the camera-controlled filters is re-invested into improving parking, highways and road safety in the borough.
We have installed camera-controlled filters to allow emergency services to access local streets and we have used the correct signage to inform drivers in advance that they cannot pass through these filters. This signage is put in place in advance to warn residents and other motorists that the scheme is live and to help drivers avoid having to make U-turns. Where we cannot use physical measures, for example to allow access for emergency services, we use camera enforcement and we issue penalty charges if motorists don’t follow these restrictions.