Low traffic neighbourhoods reduce road traffic injuries by half

Low traffic neighbourhoods reduce road traffic injuries by half

A recent study of LTNs implemented in London in 2020 found that the number of injuries inside LTNs halved relative to the rest of London.

Using police data from October-December in 2018 and 2019 (pre-LTN) compared with the same period in 2020 (post-LTN), the researchers found:

  • Substantial reductions in pedestrian injury risk.
  • More modest falls in risks to other road users.
  • No evidence of changes in injury numbers or risk on LTN boundary roads.

These findings were mirrored in a study of police data released in September 2023 concerning road casualties in the Cowley LTNs in Oxford, which found that injuries had reduced by about half from their pre-LTN levels.

CoHSAT analysed data for the 3 Cowley LTNs and their boundary roads for 2022 (post-LTN) compared to the pre-LTN and pre-Covid period of 2015-2019. They found:

  • Collisions causing casualties inside the LTNs fell from 7.4 a year to 4 – a reduction of 46%.
  • Collisions on boundary roads fell from 25 to 24 – a reduction of 4%.

See COHSAT's blog for further information and the full downloadable report.

Low traffic neighbourhoods are primarily a safety intervention. Road danger decreases in LTNs as a result of:

  • Reduced motor traffic volumes (down 40-50% within the Cowley LTNs).
  • Removal of cut-through traffic, sometimes called ‘rat-run’ traffic, leaving only drivers who live or are visiting residents or businesses in the area.

These positive changes in the volume and nature of motor traffic increase both the safety and the perception of safety on the roads. This creates a ‘virtuous circle’, making people more likely to walk, cycle and scoot (cycling has increased by 22.5% in the Cowley LTNs), which reduces motor traffic volumes and danger further, making others more likely to use active travel methods.

LTNs are an incredibly cheap way of achieving safer roads. The costs of some strategically-placed bollards/planters and signs are ‘cheap as chips’ when compared with other interventions such as pedestrian crossings, protected cycle lanes, build-outs, speed bumps and ANPR cameras. And they are incredibly effective too – the introduction of physical barriers immediately created safe streets in the Cowley and East Oxford neighbourhoods, whereas the use of speed bumps and build-outs in those areas over the preceding decades failed to deliver any safety improvements.

There is concern that these safety gains will be lost now that several bollards in the Cowley and East Oxford LTNs have been removed and replaced with ANPR cameras. No official data has been released yet, but anecdotal evidence from residents and road users is that the loss of bollards has already reduced safety and the number of children cycling.