Street Talk No. 3
Welcome to the third edition of Street Talk. In this newsletter we’ll be exploring the significant shift in travel habits driven by the pandemic, revisiting our Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) and School Street trials and taking a closer look at one of Kingston Council’s top priorities - creating a cleaner, greener borough, of which our streets play a vital role.
A pivotal moment in sustainable transport
COVID-19 has transformed the way that we travel, the use of public transport has plummeted and more of us than ever before are walking and cycling. Transport for London (TfL) data indicates that this behavioural change looks set to continue.
During the first lockdown (between April-June 2020), nearly half of all journeys in the capital were walked or cycled, a 29% increase from before the pandemic.
When restrictions began to ease, this trend continued with walking and cycling still accounting for approximately 37% of all journeys in London between July and September 2020.
And we are likely to see lasting effects, with 31% of Londoners now walking to places where they used to travel by a different mode and almost 60% now walking more for exercise.
This is incredibly positive news as walking is environmentally friendly and the cheapest and most accessible way for us to stay healthy by incorporating physical activity into our daily routine.
If you are yet to discover the benefits of walking, now is the time to get started, the weather may not be on our side, but we are working hard to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone.
This includes working with our communities to ensure overhanging hedges are maintained to help keep our pathways clear, and plans to resurface a number of uneven pavements across the borough in the coming months.
Many of you are reporting that the LTNs are continuing to provide more pleasant, quieter and safer roads for our residents and enabling more essential journeys to be safely made on foot and by bike.
Later this month we will also be introducing traffic calming measures in a number of busy residential roads to ensure our streets are safe and people-friendly spaces that support active travel, both now and in the future. More information on these schemes will be available in the coming weeks.
Recent High Court Judgement against Transport for London (TfL)
You may be aware of a recent high court case where the judge ruled against TfL in relation to a particular 'Streetspace' project in central London, as well as the guidance issued to boroughs about the London Streetspace Plan. We are studying the implications of this judgement closely, but in the meantime, the judgement has been paused to allow TfL to appeal the decision. We will continue to monitor this case and will update you on any potential impacts on projects in Kingston as the case progresses.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs)
We are now more than half-way through our trials and so far more than 550 of you have formally shared your views on the LTNs via Let’s Talk and over 300 via email, with many more providing comments through social media, your local councillors and community groups.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, your first-hand experience of the schemes is the most valuable data available to us, and will help us truly understand the impact these measures are having on the community we serve. We appreciate you taking the time out to share your feedback.
Thanks to your helpful input we have now added more advanced signage and clearer road markings to all of our schemes.
So far, feedback via Let’s Talk indicates that some respondents are supportive of the schemes and are enjoying being able to walk and cycle more safely, particularly by parks and playgrounds. Other people have said they are not happy with the changes, highlighting concerns that they may be causing more pollution and traffic in the surrounding areas.
We know that opinions can, and are, changing over time, so your feedback remains as important as ever during the trials.
Has your experience of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood changed? Have you thought of something else you would like to share with us? If so, please don’t hesitate to tell us what you are thinking.
Traffic Count and Air Quality Data
We are also gathering traffic count and air quality data in and around the LTNs to help provide a picture of how air pollution and traffic movements have changed in these areas since the introduction of the schemes.
Due to COVID-19 and the various restrictions in place over the past months, fewer children are travelling to school and many people are working from home, which is likely to lead to ‘abnormal’ traffic conditions.
To make sure we take account of this, we will be taking a look at our permanent traffic counters on main roads across the borough to understand what the wider borough traffic levels have been like throughout the pandemic and applying a factor to our data, as a reasonable proxy for 'normal' conditions.
If necessary, and dependent on lockdown conditions, we will consider collecting a further set of data in the spring.
Our state of the art air quality monitoring network of 40 nitrogen dioxide diffusion tube monitors and three automatic monitoring stations provide us with excellent coverage across the borough, including the roads surrounding our LTNs. We will be modelling the impact of the LTNs on local air quality in the coming months.
In March we will begin evaluating the trials based on all of the feedback received, alongside the data gathered so far. All representations will also be formally considered.
All findings are expected to be presented to the relevant neighbourhood committees in May/June 2021 and a decision will then be taken on whether to extend the schemes (up to 18 months from first implementation), make them permanent or remove them.
Enforcement cameras have now been installed on Castle Hill, St Paul’s and Alexandra School Streets to ensure we can keep these streets as traffic-free as possible. They will be activated from mid-February and any unauthorised vehicles accessing the roads during restricted hours will be liable to receive a penalty charge notice (PCN) from that date. Advanced signage is in place to alert drivers of these schemes.
Residents are invited to share their views on these trials via Let’s Talk, all feedback will be evaluated when assessing the success of the schemes.
We are delighted to be working with a number of schools to introduce more school street trials later this year, to enable more families across the borough to travel more sustainably to and from school.
A cleaner, greener Kingston
At Kingston Council we are committed to tackling climate change, improving air quality and enabling our residents and visitors to use sustainable travel options.
We have just finished gathering feedback on Kingston’s draft Air Quality Action Plan, which sets out the actions we’ll take with partners and communities over the next five years to improve air quality across the borough.
Our streets play a major role in this plan. Alongside LTNs, School Streets, and traffic calming measures, we are continuing to invest in our cycling infrastructure network, and are introducing more electric vehicle charging points to make it easier for those who need to drive to make the switch to electric vehicles.
We are also working hard to protect our diverse habitat and aspire to become a leading borough in how we look after our local environment and biodiversity.
This winter, we are planting 540 new trees across the borough, with almost two-thirds being planted in locations chosen by our residents. And, thanks to your great input on our green spaces survey, we will be adapting our practices to further support nature conservation, with our new Green Spaces Strategy and Biodiversity Action Plan launching later this year.
Residents and their health remain firmly at the heart of our decision-making, that’s why we are acting now and introducing positive changes for the long term benefit of Kingston’s communities and generations to come.
If you have any questions about our Low Traffic Neighbourhoods or School Streets please email: email@example.com.
Thank you again for all of your input so far.
The Highways and Transport team