Our data analysis shows Bethnal Green LTNs are not causing pollution or delays


We at Save Our Safer Streets campaign are challenging the new Tower Hamlets Mayor and Council to publish local data on emergency service response times, air quality and traffic congestion. This is after our own analysis has shown that the new street designs in Bethnal Green have had a far more positive impact than the mayor and others have claimed.

Our analysis, using FoIs and public domain data, has shown that:

  • There has been NO increase in fire service response times since the installation of the new road layouts and Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes. This is both across Tower Hamlets as a whole and for the five wards where they have been installed.
  • There has been NO increase in ambulance response times attributable to the LTN schemes in Bethnal Green. Category 1 response times remain stable in E2 after the installation of LTNs, and Category 2 response times in the E2 LTN areas are comparable with Tower Hamlets as a whole.
  • There has been NO increase in journey times on boundary roads attributable to the LTNs - journey times have increased on all roads at a similar rate. Eastbound journeys on Hackney Road have increased by 30 seconds at most, but this is likely to have several causes such as repeated roadworks and LTNs in neighbouring Hackney.
  • Air quality is now dramatically better across all of Tower Hamlets than it was in 2019, and from 2021, annual average pollution levels in Tower Hamlets have fallen below the national target. These falls are matched in areas surrounding and including LTNs.

We are publishing our analysis today on our website and have presented some of it in a ‘look-up’ format where residents can find further details and analysis on emergency response times, air quality and traffic congestion.

We’re also highlighting a letter to the mayor from Transport for London (TfL), in which it objects to the council’s plans to remove the current schemes and said the council’s consultation did not provide enough evaluation to support its proposals. TfL also says its plan to put in a new bus lane in Hackney Road cannot go ahead if Tower Hamlets council rips out the street design in Old Bethnal Green Road. Our petition on the council’s website to save the scheme and improve it instead of ripping it out closed with 3,094 signatures (the second highest for any TH e-petition).

We conducted the research in response to the mayor and others repeatedly claiming that the LTN schemes have made traffic and journey times worse on boundary roads, and using these claims as an argument for getting rid of them. For example, the recent consultation stated that “congestion on Hackney Road and Bethnal Green Road (has) increased,” and in his statement of 28 September the mayor claimed that the LTNs were “simply moving congestion and pollution onto the most vulnerable residents”.

But no data has yet been published to show that this is true, and the data we are publishing today suggests that these statements are at odds with the facts. We are asking the council to conduct its own funded and verified analysis to provide the public with the evidence they need to make informed choices.

Jane Harris, a Tower Hamlets resident who is involved with Save Our Safer Streets, said: “We want the mayor’s decision about the future design of our streets to be based on reality, not arguments he can’t back up. The LTNs have brought huge improvements to so many people’s lives and so far the council hasn’t shown us any evidence that they are not working.

“If there’s no evidence of negative impacts on emergency service response times, congestion and air quality, ‘reopening the roads’ becomes a matter of personal preference and convenience for motorists,” she continued. “Given his pledge to be a mayor for all people, we would hope the mayor would weigh this carefully against improved safety, the needs of the whole community and the wider climate crisis. “It always takes time to get used to change,” Jane said. “There may be improvements that can be made to the street schemes which address residents’ concerns, but ripping out the entire scheme without good reason would be hugely wasteful and unnecessarily extreme.”

The petition to ‘Save Our Safer Streets’ will be debated by Tower Hamlets Council on Wednesday 5 October.

This analysis was done by volunteers working with the Save Our Safer Streets campaign. Where possible, advice and comment has been sought from third parties with relevant experience or expertise.


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