Low Traffic Neighbourhoods: Campaigners Guide
Key learning points
9. Expect pushback and be ready with key arguments
Use positive emotion, emphasising benefits for children and older people – people respond better to stories than to facts and figures. There will be many people who are pleased with the outcome and wouldn’t have thought it possible. They will be quieter and harder to find than the objectors, but they are there.
How we did it in Oxford
Traffic reduction benefits those living outside LTNs too, but not as obviously, or immediately – so it’s important to emphasise those benefits, and not leave them thinking that it’s just the lucky few inside the LTN getting nicer streets.
Think big. Opponents will demand compromise, and if you have a minimum, bare-bones LTN, there’s no way to scale back or “meet them half-way”. Emphasise walking far more than cycling.
It is important to understand the dynamics of any policy that makes it difficult to drive a car. Try to identify who is most dependent on driving for their living as these are the groups that speak out most against: vehicle dependent workers (taxi drivers, delivery drivers, visiting healthcare workers, in addition to commuting); people who cannot travel actively due to mobility issues; place-based organisations (schools, faith organisations, buildings that are plugged into the transport system).
What are the dynamics of traffic when you reallocate road space? Encourage the debate: do you think the same numbers of cars exist in the space and get dispersed, or do you think that traffic evaporation happens? Strongly emphasise that there is lots of evidence for the latter.
Bear in mind that in Waltham Forest when work started, 44 per cent of residents were opposed. Just 1.7 per cent of residents would scrap the scheme now, according to council surveys.
Local residents in Cowley created a mythbuster page to make it easier to link directly to the evidence in online debates, similar to the Mini Holland mythbuster webpage created by residents in Waltham Forest. CoHSAT have also created a list of evidence for low traffic neighbourhoods, which you can use as a handy reference.
You may find it useful to refer to (up-to-date) mythbusting articles and reports, such as this Sustrans LTN guide, this mythbusing Guardian article from 2020, or this report from the Walking & Cycling Alliance.