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Low traffic neighbourhoods as a key part of traffic reduction in Greenwich

There have been recent consultations and much controversy over individual low traffic neighbourhood installations in parts of Greenwich and their impact on traffic elsewhere in the borough. 

The Green Party is clear that the aim should be to reduce traffic overall.

This will both reduce pollution and make it safer to walk and cycle to school and to work.

Reducing school traffic

School safety is key. As many have noticed, during half terms and summer holidays the traffic reduces significantly.

The reality is that at least part of the traffic is parents driving children to school either because it doesn’t feel safe, they live too far for walking and cycling to be a realistic alternative, or they simply have the habit of doing so. 

By working with schools and parents we should plan low traffic neighbourhoods that are focused on school areas. It is realistic and desirable to make it safer for both younger and older children to be able to walk or cycle to school. This will improve their health and embeds the idea that walking and cycling are good travel options for them.

We also should be encouraging car-pooling to reduce the number of parents who feel the need to drive children where they live far from the school.

And there are useful lessons from other local authorities to reduce hotspot congestion around school gates, such as the case of Cambridgeshire County Council’s From 5 steps to 5 minutes initiative which gives schools guidance on how to encourage parents to park 5 minutes’ walk away from school gates rather than directly outside.

Prioritising children over drivers

As Greens, we say let’s move our focus from the inconveniences to drivers and onto the benefits of our children who do not have a voice in this debate. Children’s wellbeing should be a priority in our society and this priority should be reflected in policy choices.

In East Greenwich the filter that blocks part of Old Woolwich Road ensures less traffic near Meridian Primary School. All these children are benefitting. In contrast, losing the Hills & Vales LTN and – indeed – lobbying to open up Greenwich Park to take rush hour traffic will negatively affect 3 nearby schools where children currently walk to get to school (John Roan, James Wolfe and St Ursula’s).

We see a future where all of us, but especially children, can benefit from quiet residential streets with reduced traffic, no matter which neighbourhood they live in or which school they attend.

Shifting other types of traffic

Where school run traffic is abated we will see less congestion at peak times because of removing some of the current demand. For the remainder of the traffic that is not related to schools we must provide other options.

To encourage the shift of commuter traffic, Greens will look to make public transport more accessible and seen as the better option for people.

Strategies for reducing traffic overall will benefit the reliability of buses. 

We must also review how the use of new Elizabeth line can be supported to take commuters into London. Rail is already faster than driving and avoids high-cost parking in town, but needs local support to make it viable for road users to switch to it.

The council must be actively involved in facilitating home deliveries through cycle couriers based in local depots. We recognise that there is ever-increasing white van traffic generated by online shopping, but working with e-commerce platforms and their suppliers we can develop improved last mile fulfilment practices to reduce congestion. The Green Party will explore policies to promote and extend existing local pick-up lockers in stores.

Finally, we must continue at all costs to fight against the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel, which even Transport for London says will dump increased traffic into Greenwich. New road capacity is filled shortly after it is built and only adds to Greenwich’s congestion and air pollution issues.

Inclusive and holistic planning

All these ideas need to be developed with local communities, local businesses and the wider London Councils. Adequate consulation and inclusion of residents’ views are essential.

As Greens, we aim to build a holistic Greenwich-wide strategy focused on reducing traffic across the board. If we are going to keep our beautiful borough a healthy place to live and avoid the worst of the impact of climate change, then we need to act in a proportionate manner to the challenges we face.

– Stacy Smith, councillor candidate for East Greenwich ward