1st July, 2021
For the 18th event in our Sustainable Transport Futures seminar series and the final event for this academic year, we had presentations by researchers from Healthy Active Cities (University of Salford), the Active Travel Academy (University of Westminster), and Newcastle University discussing their work on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.
Measuring Distributional Equity: a spatial analysis of London’s new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
Professor Rachel Aldred, Active Travel Academy, University of Westminster
Rachel started the seminar discussing her work, in collaboration with colleagues, using spatial analysis to assess distributional equity in the implementation of new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in London from March to September 2020. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are a low-cost intervention to reduce through motor traffic and 4% of London residents now live in a low traffic area – although there is an uneven distribution across boroughs – and around 9% of residents live within 500 metres of a new modal filter. The research found that, across London, people living in deprived areas were more likely to live in a new LTN than people living in less deprived areas and Black residents were more likely to live in a new LTN than white residents, whilst Asian residents were less likely than white residents to be living in a new LTN. The research found that whilst the implementation of LTNs was broadly equitable at the city level, this was not always the case at the district level.
Defending children’s street play in Newcastle’s historic Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
Sally Watson, School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape, Newcastle University
Talking about her research on historical Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Sally began by outlining the context of a motor car dominated planning system in the 1960s and 1970s and rising child fatalities on roads. During this period planners in the UK had both power and funding to implement changes in towns and cities and, in Newcastle, this was used to implement Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, or ‘environmental areas’, that would reduce traffic, renew housing and also integrate children’s play areas into the redesign of the streets. Consultations highlighted opposition to children playing in the roads and the schemes became a political football in debates about the impact of comprehensive redevelopment and urban renewal on the wider (adult) community.
The recording and a copy of Sally’s presentation will be uploaded in due course.
Active Neighbourhoods in Greater Manchester
Harrie Larrington-Spencer & Dr Graeme Sherriff, Healthy Active Cities, University of Salford
Graeme and Harrie presented on findings from their jointly funded research (TfGM and University of Salford, HEIF) on the implementation of Active Neighbourhoods in the region, with a focus on case studies in Salford, Manchester, Bury and Stockport. The research takes a qualitative approach to understanding lived experiences of Active Neighbourhoods amongst residents and potential residents in order to develop more nuanced understandings than are produced on social media or through news reporting. Using walkalongs, their research found that primary mode of transport for local journeys was an important factor in perceptions of Active Neighbourhoods, with those who walk less likely to perceive benefits in their implementation compared to residents who both walk and cycle. Those who walk considered the benefits of Active Neighbourhoods to be limited if pavement conditions were not improved – which remains important even if motor vehicle traffic on the roads is reduced. Whilst social media and news reporting commonly divides people who walk and cycle, in reality everyone who participated in the research, irrespective of whether they cycled or not, wanted improved pedestrian conditions.
The three presentations were followed by a lively question and answer session, with questions submitted by audience members. These included discussions of gentrification, resident conflict, and whether ‘perfect is the enemy of good’ holds water in Low Traffic Neighbourhood design and implementation.
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