Low Traffic Neighbourhoods; Campaigners Guide

5. Provide positive stories to local media

Local media can influence public opinion and decision makers, so it’s important to provide positive stories and to react to relevant articles with “below-the-line” comments.

This can be done using traditional methods of press releases and by cultivating relationships with local journalists, so they ask for opinions when writing pieces. Use of video and YouTube is a powerful way to give a platform to key supporters, telling the story in their own words. Be ready to counter negative stories in local media, social media and neighbourhood forums with positive stories and comments.

How we did it in Oxford

Letter to the Editor of Oxford Mail
From a supportive councillor, explaining LTN benefits. Sept 2019.
Quotes provided for news article
Positive quotes given by councillors and OLS members for Oxford Mail article. July 2020.
Online mythbusting
Webpage created with research evidence, for linking in social media posts. Ongoing.

For inspiration, here are some extracts from articles in our local newspaper which CoHSAT members & supporters provided quotes for:

Letter to the editor of Oxford Mail, 17 September 2019 

Before funding was announced from central govertnment, people such as local councillor John Saunders were promoting the idea of LTNs, with specific local examples – such as in this letter to the editor, headlined “Ending the misery on the worst rat-run in Oxford”:

"Recently, two cars caromed into each other at the crossing, hospitalising a passing cyclist. I cannot wait idly by until someone is actually killed at the crossing. The new [traffic calming] measures should slow traffic down to walking pace at this, the worst rat run in Oxford. However, I agree that this is not good enough. I would like to see various streets in the area become a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN), where – for example – traffic in streets like Beauchamp Lane, Westbury Crescent, and Crescent Road is limited to residents-only access. Some of my council colleagues and I will be visiting Waltham forest later this month to see how a LTN can be successful."

- Councillor John Saunders

Article in Oxford Mail, 9 July 2020

Once a trial of LTNs got the go-ahead, CoHSAT members and pro-LTN councillors continued to communicate about the upcoming scheme by providing quotes for further newspaper articles, such as this explainer in the Oxford Mail:

“Nobody’s being stopped from parking or driving and the detours they’ll make will be relatively small. The aim is to get people walking and cycling more for local trips. We hope it will change the way residents get around... It’s only a small area, but it sets a precedent for the rest of Oxford.”

- Danny Yee, OLS co-director

“There are several people who are suspicious of this, but I’ve had literally hundreds of emails from people in favour. I’ve never seen a response quite this positive. People are concerned about how it will affect traffic, but the overwhelming majority say ‘do it’. It’s a no-brainer – this is a flagship scheme and will move on to the rest of the city.”

- Councillor John Saunders