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Forum topic: What Walthamstow Village experiment really says about LTNs.

What Walthamstow Village experiment really says about LTNs.

Peter Payne

01 May 2021 14:46 #5964

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£27 Million pounds was spent on about half a square kilometre in the Walthamstow Village scheme with much of the money being spent on road closures and traffic calming. There were other areas of improvement such as street lighting, tree planting and general visual improvements. Many figures and quotes have been taken from this report by groups such as BSfE and London Living Streets suggesting it was a tremendous success. I urge all councillors and members of the above groups to read this report in full. In doing so note how biased it has presented the data, allowing for pro LTN groups to cherry pick information and give a good impression on what was effectively a failed scheme. I will list some of the many examples:

(i) You will often see quoted only 1.7% of those surveyed in the final report said they would scrap the scheme. This was NOT asked as a survey question. It comes under the category of "Residents comments: Additional adjustments that could be made to the scheme". So 1.7% of those who responded (25 people from 1483 sampled) were moved enough to actually write "you should scrap the scheme" or something similar as a comment. In the same section, "I'm happy with the changes" got a figure of 0.6%. Yet this 1.7% figure appears throughout the report including in the executive summary, and on pro LTN websites as if it had been asked as a question on the survey. The 0.6% figure, strangely, doesn't get a mention.

(ii) To the question "Perceived change in regular journey quality" the report says "Approximately 64% of respondents felt the quality of their journey had stayed the same or improved". Now actually 52% had said it had stayed the same and 12% said it had improved. If you are spending £27 Million shouldn't this 52% be regarded as failure as no improvement has been achieved for them despite the huge amount of money spent ? 498 people actually said their journey quality was WORSE compared to 166 who said it had improved, exactly three times as many. This data could have, and should have been, reported as "Approximately 88% of respondents felt the quality of their journey had stayed the same or decreased".

(iii) You will often see the figures of a 19% increase in walking reported and a 28% increase in cycling ( Actually these should be 16% and 25% because they didn't subtract the people who said they walked or cycled less). However the figures for car use stayed EXACTLY THE SAME. If people were walking and cycling more it wasn't as an alternative to using their car, so no likely traffic evaporation from this source. The figure for increased cycling looks impressive but its from a very small base. Only 4% initially said they were regular cyclists so this may have risen to 5%. However, there was no indication as to whether any of this small additional cycling was new cyclists or all done by existing cyclists cycling more. As there was no change in car usage it would suggest the latter.

(iv) From 1,352 respondents almost an identical number said they perceived a decrease in traffic volume (34.5%) as said they perceived an increase (33.8%). A difference of 13 people.

From 1,389 respondents 27.6% said their overall perception of their street had increased, 27.5% said it had decreased. A difference of 2 people.

The logical conclusion is that the benefits for some were to the detriment of others, with no overall improvement. Sound familiar ?

(v) They asked businesses for their overall opinion of the scheme and reported this as "54% either having a positive response or not expressing an opinion" where the figures show 47% had a poor opinion and 20% had a good opinion. They called this a mixed response.

(vi) There was a generally better received opinion of other improvements, especially around the commercial centre, and for spending on street lighting, foliage and general improvements of the physical appearance of the area. The visitors to the area were also surveyed and seemed generally to have a much better opinion of the improvements than the residents. When asked how the visitors journeyed to Walthamstow Village 1% said they walked, 0% cycled. When asked if they had changed their mode of transport to the village since the improvements, only 2% said they had, although obviously none to cycling and few, if any, to walking.

(vii) In the summary of Addition Adjustments it states that "55% of residents said they would not change anything". This could be the biggest deceit of all.
It appears that if you left this box for suggested additional improvements blank you were classed in the category “No/Nothing/None”. So if you MADE NO COMMENT it appears that you were classed in the same group as someone who actually wrote "I wouldn't change a thing."

Now I have no knowledge of whether our councillors have independently read all thIS report and knew everything above already or whether they have simply believed what others have told them about the conclusions and are sitting there wondering why the traffic isn't evaporating as it should. Indeed there may be many at BSfE or London Living Streets that have been taken in by the "spin" from Waltham Forest, and the work of the full time lobbyists and non-independent statisticians.

I urge any of the decision makers, or indeed any members of BSfE or LLS to at least to read the final report from Walthamstow Village, and see what they really got for their £27million. I mean the FULL report, not just Waltham Forest’s summaries. Look at the actual figures and then and how they reported it. Here's the link for the final report.

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What Walthamstow Village experiment really says about LTNs.

Peter Payne

01 May 2021 23:46 #5965

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Since posting this I have been correctly informed not all of the £27 million Waltham Forest received was spent on the village project. I cannot find a breakdown of where the money was spent so substitute "millions of pounds " above wherever it says £27 million. As the flagship and largest project, with the most consultation and actual modifications one would assume it would have consumed more than half the budget. I'll try to confirm.

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What Walthamstow Village experiment really says about LTNs.

Basil Clarke

03 May 2021 23:32 #5966

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I don't have time to go through all the minor points picked out by Peter in this outdated report. Just to point out the major errors in his analysis:

1. To start with Peter's title What Walthamstow Village experiment really says about LTNs. This report doesn't "say" anything about LTNs in general, only about one specific scheme, so don't try to pretend that it does. And that report is rather old. There have been several more recent studies which show the value of the Waltham Forest LTNs in many different respects.

2. The cost of the Walthamstow Village LTN was less than £1 million. In all the £27m cost of the mini-Holland scheme paid for more than 4 sq km of LTNs, but the biggest cost - more than half - was the complete rebuild of a 4km stretch of Lea Bridge Road.

3. The <£1m wasn't spent on half a square kilometre of land on a map, it was spent on improving the life quality and health of the people living there and people who visit or pass through. Money very well spent in my opinion. I know the area and I remember how hellish Grove Road was before and have seen how civilised it is now. Compare it to the £50 millon cost of the junction 25 improvements on the M25. While the work is being carried out, there will be extra congestion, once completed traffic flow will improve for about a year, encouraging more drivers until the road is just as congested as it was before - studies have shown that this is what always happens. And it will drive another nail into the climate change coffin.

Walthamstow Village was the first part of the mini-Holland scheme to be done. It was somewhat rushed because the council only had three years to do the complete scheme or the Mayor (Boris Johnson) would have taken back the money. At the time the survey was done (2017) there was still a lot of resentment and the scheme still needed to bed in. In 2021 the level of support for LTNs in Walthamstow is considerably higher because people appreciate how they have transformed things for the better.

Returning to the Waltham Forest LTNs, there have been several recent reports showing definite benefti on casualties, air quality, reduction in driving, increases in walking and cycling, and more. To cite just one report, go to to see the spectacular drop in injuries caused by road traffic collisions. Residential side streets have a very poor record for pedestrian injuries compared with main roads - they have no pedestrian crossings, views are blocked by parked cars.

There is indeed a lesson for our councillors: that they shouldn't take the fierce and noisy opposition as indicative of general opinion and that when people see what LTNs can deliver they will ask for more, as they have in WF.

Finally, here is a comment on Peter's piece sent to me by someone who was following the Waltham Forest developments from the outset and who has looked a bit more closely than me at what Peter wrote:

This writer concentrates on the surveyed views (ie he ignores the hard data such as traffic counts). I think some of the criticisms about spin are valid, but the success criteria are not primarily about public perception. To characterise this as a 'failed scheme' and to assert that 'the traffic isn't evaporating as it should' seems to me to largely ignore the success criteria and the hard data.

More specifics:
a) 'Spin' - I think it may be reasonable to criticise use of figures such as '1.7%' that are 'write-in' responses rather than answers to specific questions without making it clear what they are. But it's a pretty small number in any event, and just an opinion. Broadly, most of the responses to 'perception' questions are of the 'don't know/care' variety so I don't think it's reasonable to pin accusations of failure on them. But it's possible that we may have been guilty of advocating on the basis of small percentage responses to 'perception' questions. I note a question about street lighting on p33 showing that less than half of residents had noticed changes to street lighting, suggesting that perception surveys may not be very perceptive.

(b) Objectives - for the Walthamstow Village Scheme the objectives are
Aim 1: reduce the volume, speed, and noise of traffic outside people’s homes
Aim 2: improve road safety for all users
Aim 3: make the area easier and safer for people who want to walk and cycle for local journeys
Aim 4: Make the Village area more attractive for residents and visitors.

Apart from Aim 4, and to a small extent aim 3, these are not about perception, they should be demonstrable from data about traffic. But the author makes no reference to these. The traffic counts are explicit about the reduction in traffic volumes and speeds

(c) The author, towards the end of his post, talks about whether 'the traffic isn't evaporating as it should'. Traffic 'evaporation' is clearly most likely to be discerned from the traffic counts (not the perceptions surveys). There's been plenty of subsequent work done on this, but I only observe the table at 4.2.1 on p71 and the table at 4.3.1 on p84. Summing the actual changes in 4.2.1 and those in 4.3.1 (ie the traffic counts in the LTN roads and those on the surrounding roads) seem to clearly show a considerable drop in actual numbers.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Adrian Day, Hal Haines, John Phillips

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What Walthamstow Village experiment really says about LTNs.

Karl Brown

04 May 2021 10:24 #5967

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Probably worth reflecting that on the back of experiences such as Walthamstow, and despite the then and inevitable future backlash from some, HMG, the GLA and many large city councils continue to extend the UK’s LTN footprint – implementing them deeply into transport policy at all political levels – party irrespective. We should perhaps assume they are deemed positive vs well documented transport challenges and its many related aspects, such as public health, if not to everyone liking.

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What Walthamstow Village experiment really says about LTNs.

Adrian Day

04 May 2021 22:54 #5968

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Stats are important but this piece from a resident of The Mall is also worth a read:

‘We really do have a neighbourhood’ – the effect of the Fox Lane LTN

A quiet lane , with wandering pedestrians, dogs, cyclists, children on scooters, and the occasional bus and delivery van . This is Fox Lane. It is a dreamlike contrast with what used to be a thundering main road, with several thousand polluting and speeding vehicles every day.
We are liberated. Instead of cowering in our separate, dangerous rat-run streets, we are now a ‘neighbourhood’. A daily nature walk, a history walk or jog of discovery is a revelation, as you pass kids and mums and dads scooting, walking or cycling from school.
Woodpeckers echo along the Mall, ducks dabble and herons stalk in Conway pond. We have mapped an 8km circuit to jog, walk or run, touching all 20 or so street with their 2-3000 houses.
Our own road had some 4000 sat-nav- driven through vehicles a day, with the 30mph limit exceeded , and rattling heavy lorries trundling through. People living 25 miles away, half way to Cambridge used our street as their the quickest route to East Finchley. Rush hour was chaos.
Amazing that a Council-would have the foresight, or expertise to implement such an idea – a ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhood’, even when backed by the government. Yet, after consultation and modifications, and a 6 month trial, many streets are now accessed from only one end rather than being open at both ends for through traffic.
There is vocal, organised and politicised opposition promoting scare stories against the evidence. They are in favour of through traffic and against ‘closing roads’. There has been criminal damage, theft and vandalism to barriers.
The scheme was difficult to contemplate for some people. It could add a few minutes to some local journey times. Were we to become ‘closed to outsiders’? There were lurid predictions of grid locked surrounding main roads, and delays to emergency vehicles.
Initial impressions are that much of the through traffic has gone elsewhere – the main roads often seem quieter, as the original 12,000 through vehicles have rerouted , or made different journeys. At times there are still main road queues. There always were –especially when the A406 closes.
Accumulating research, and ‘before and after’ studies from elsewhere – suggests the scare stories are just that, and that support from residents increases after schemes have bedded in.
Our road was a cart track until 1900. You sense the 1905 vision. ‘ High Class Villas from £360 easy for the City and the new electric tram’. They were built on the Taylor-Walker country estate.
Some of the original quirky brick patterned front garden walls are still there. The old stocks on the green, the cattle pound at the top of Fox Lane, the huge cedar near the site of the Cullands Grove home of Lord Mayor Sir William Curtis who entertained the Tsar in the 1700’s, now all belong to us – within a few minutes stroll , in a way they never did.
For 1500 years the area was entirely rural, with shallow valleys and streams, until from 1700 Southgate became a landowners enclave – only 8 miles from the City, with half a dozen great houses –a rich man’s green belt.
Now we have our neighbourhood back, we can begin to plan to repurpose our shared streetscape, with new planters, ‘parklets’, benches for socialising, children’s play squares, and much more. Liberation indeed.

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What Walthamstow Village experiment really says about LTNs.

Peter Payne

06 May 2021 02:45 #5973

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Thanks for your comments on my post about Walthamstow Village, particularly the more reasoned piece by Basil's friend who seems to agree there was "spin" but would prefer to ignore all the perception comments which constitute the bulk of the figures generated by the report. Instead he/she considers we should concentrate on the traffic counts and reported traffic evaporation. In that case I will.

The figures showed a substantial reduction in counts inside the LTN, as expected, after it was introduced and an increase in counts on perimeter roads also as expected. The claim is there were approximately 14000 less counts per day inside the LTN and an increase of only approx. 4000 counts per day on the perimeter roads therefore the claim is 10,000 counts have disappeared. 10,000 as a proportion of the total traffic counts (inside plus outside) of 64000 gives a traffic evaporation of around 16% as quoted by groups such as Better Streets For Enfield and London Living Streets. This is STATISTICAL NONSENSE on four levels:

(i) These are counts and not cars. A car travelling through the LTN was counted on every road it passed down so a car passing through this particular LTN (if you look at a map of it) would have typically been counted on 2 or normally 3 roads. There was only one count point on each perimeter road. This means you cannot simply subtract one from the other and call them all cars, they are COUNTS not CARS. Typically a good estimate is a car passing through the LTN would average around 2.8 counts. As some cars would have travelled, after LTN closure, on two of the perimeter roads a car outside the LTN averages around 1.6 counts. Unless you know every cars pre and post LTN routes you cannot be accurate but these reasonable estimates would reduce the 16% evaporation to around 9%, still significant but...

(ii) A car entering the LTN before it was closed off may well have been counted on the perimeter road before it entered the LTN. When it could no longer take this route, all its counts from inside the LTN would have disappeared but when it stayed on the perimeter road as extra traffic it would NOT have been counted as extra traffic because it had already been counted on this road before the LTN was introduced. ie 2 to 3 counts will have disappeared for these cars from inside the LTN and no addition counts will have appeared on the perimeter road. It's like cars were just evaporating, except they didn't.

(iii) Only the three immediate perimeter roads were counted for extra traffic. The counts themselves showed increased traffic and congestion on these roads yet no effort was made to assess the traffic stress on other roads, (Wood St. in particular), as cars took alternative routes. It is obvious to all who are experiencing the effect of the Fox Lane LTN that as the immediate perimeter roads become backed up that some traffic takes a wider berth. Winchmore Hill Rd, Wynchgate, Morton Way, Broomfield Lane, Hoppers Road and many roads further afield have all shown considerable increased traffic, none of which was counted before the LTN and likely not to be counted at the end of the trial. The same happened in Walthamstow Village but because this additional traffic was not counted it is included in the percentages as traffic that just evaporated, except it didn't.

(iv) Some of the traffic that was originally counted on the perimeter roads pre LTN, that didn't even enter the LTN at any stage, may well have diverted to other routes once these perimeter roads became congested. So they were counted pre LTN on perimeter roads and not counted post LTN so, hey presto they just evaporated, except they didn't.

None of the above proves there was not traffic evaporation. (i) shows statistically it was far less than often quoted and (ii) to (iv) shows it was probably a lot less, if anything of any significance at all. The latter statement is backed up by the figures for the borough overall. The increase in car traffic flow for the Waltham Forest borough between 2015 and 2018 was 11.9% (416 mill miles to 469million miles from Dept. of Transport stats file TRA 8902). 2015 is when the Walthamstow Village LTN was introduced and by 2018 this and other LTNs in Waltham Forest were fully bedded in. This is not very consistent with car evaporation. Clearly there may be many other factors at play here when you look at the borough as a whole, but you might expect these to affect neighbouring boroughs as well, yet Redbridge had 6.8% increase, Enfield 3.7% , Harringay 5.9% and Newham 9.6% over this same period.

In addition, the British Heart Foundation in a recent survey placed Waltham Forest as the SECOND WORST authoritative region for air pollution in the country, again not consistent with traffic evaporation.

Basil could you send me links to the " several recent reports showing definite benefit on casualties, air quality, reduction in driving, increases in walking and cycling, and more." The one link you supplied on casualties is somewhat expected in that if you stop or reduce traffic going through an area this particular area should hopefully see a reduction in traffic accidents. The question is whether there is an overall reduction in traffic and an overall reduction in accidents. The overall should look far beyond the perimeter roads. In the paper quoted Rachel looked at perimeter roads only and her figures for this show ridiculously high p values. You do realise if a p value is above 0.05 then you cant rule out the Null Hypothesis which suggests anything you are looking at could just be random ? She has p values in this table averaging nearly 0.6 with not a single piece of data close to p<0.05 significance.
They compare pre and post LTN figures of accidents inside the LTN with accidents borough wide and Outer London wide where these accidents are not on A or B roads, which is fair enough since the roads inside the LTN are not A or B roads. They compare perimeter road accidents with accidents on all roads (including A and B roads) which is also fair. But in giving these figures you can now do a borough wide vs Outer London comparison for all roads. When you do this you find Waltham Forest had a total accident rate 2% higher than the Outer London rate increase. For cyclists it was 6.7% higher. Neither is consistent with traffic evaporation or the expected fall in accident rate that should come with it. It is more consistent with the overall traffic increases for the borough from file TRA 8902 shown above compared to other boroughs. I haven't calculated p values for this but I can assure you they would likely be higher than 0.05 and therefore NOT statistically reliable, like most of Rachel's figures but it just shows you what you can do with statistics.

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