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Imperial College London’s LTN Air Quality study

Low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) reduce traffic and air pollution without displacing the problem to nearby streets, new research published in Transportation Research has shown.

The study by researchers at Imperial College London looked at three LTNs in an inner London borough, to identify their impact on both air pollution and traffic within the low traffic zones and in the surrounding area.

The researchers studied three LTNs in Islington, one of London’s most densely populated boroughs, which were put in place during 2020. The team compared pollution and traffic levels at monitoring stations inside the zones, on streets surrounding the zones, and at control sites further away, using data gathered by Islington Borough Council.

The LTNs – in St Peter’s, Canonbury and Clerkenwell – were put in place between July and September 2020. The team analysed data gathered from July 2019 to February 2021.

The researchers found that LTNs have the potential to substantially reduce air pollution and traffic in target areas, without increasing air pollution or traffic volumes in surrounding streets, stating; “These results provide sound arguments in favour of LTNs to promote health and wellbeing in urban communities.”

This latest research has been reported across many media outlets. Links to the articles are set out below:

London LTNs: Pollution and traffic down in surrounding areas, research shows, by By Adriana Elgueta, BBC News

Low traffic neighbourhood schemes cut air pollution on nearby roads, By Madeleine Cuff, NewScientist

Low traffic neighbourhoods reduce pollution and traffic in surrounding areas, study finds, By Josh Salisbury, Evening Standard

‘No evidence’ low-traffic neighbourhoods increase pollution in nearby roads, study finds, by Greg Barradale, Big Issue

In our 2022 Scorecard published in July, we said it had been a slower year for the roll-out of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in London’s boroughs compared to 2021, with a focus on embedding those implemented the previous year.

Since then, some boroughs, such as Haringey, have made progress in rolling out LTNs. We highlighted the need of all councils to focus on creating healthier streets through LTNs, and that those LTNs implemented with temporary materials need to be upgraded and finalised, in collaboration with residents. Main roads across London need to be improved, and LTNs need to be linked to each other with quality crossings and junctions.

This map shows the LTNs as of today, based on the best information available.

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