A new report is urging policy makers to listen to the perspectives of disabled people when implementing active travel schemes, such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), to maximise their full potential.
The Pave the Way report, published by Transport for All, looks at the impacts of LTNs on disabled people.
LTNs use a combination of bollards, planters and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to remove ‘through’ motor vehicle traffic on specific residential roads.
According to the report, there are now 95 LTNs created by local councils using TfL funding – as part of the Streetspace for London plan – totalling £6.9 million.
The report authors spoke to 84 disabled people, aged eight to 89 years, across a range of impairment groups. Participants were based in 19 out of the 21 London boroughs that have implemented new LTNs, plus five locations outside the Capital.
It found that disable people hold both positive and negative opinions on LTNs.
In terms of the positive impacts, participants reported easier or more pleasant journeys; an increase in independence; a decrease in traffic danger; and benefits to physical and mental health.
Criticisms included longer journey times for residents, as well as their visitors who provide care and support. The report says this leads to travel becoming more exhausting, expensive, complicated or difficult.
However crucially, the report states that disabled people don’t feel listened to by policy makers, or that they have opportunities to share their views.
In total, 72% of participants reported issues with how changes have been communicated, including the lack of information provided, its quality or accessibility, and not receiving a warning before an LTN is installed.
The report found failures with the consultation process used to collect resident feedback, as well as with Equality Impact Assessments.
Looking forward, the report concludes that with many disabled people experiencing genuine and meaningful benefits from LTNs, ‘ripping them out and returning to normal isn’t the solution’.
Instead, it says the answer involves engaging with and listening to the perspectives of disabled people, who have been significantly erased from the conversation.
“Only then can we move forward with accessible and inclusive solutions which benefit everyone, and the environment”, it notes.