Frequently Asked Questions about low traffic area schemes

Low Traffic Area Schemes

Q: Why is the council putting these schemes in place now? 

A: Transport for London modelling predicts that, without action, traffic volumes may get much worse than before the COVID-19 crisis. We must act now to create more space for local people to use sustainable transport (like walking, or cycling) as an alternative to using public transport while there’s limited capacity, or turning to private motor vehicles. The development of technology, including sat-nav and associated mobile apps, has also led to an increase in vehicles cutting through residential areas as they travel through Sutton. If more people choose to drive as lockdown restrictions are eased, this will increase, making streets more dangerous and unhealthy for the people who live on them. This is why we are taking action now. 

Q: Where is the money coming from?

A: Sutton Council has been awarded £1million in emergency active travel funding from the Department for Transport and Transport for London. This is to implement more than 30 schemes borough-wide that will help social distancing and make it easier for people to walk and cycle safely.

Q: Why haven’t we been consulted before this work takes place? 

A: As an emergency fund from the Government and TfL, proposals from all London Boroughs had to be submitted quickly, making the normal public consultation process difficult. We submitted funding bids in June to TfL and the Government and all schemes must be delivered by September. 

Our Safer, Active, Greener, Streets programme has been based, as much as possible, on areas where the Council has carried out public consultations on this issue before. Where this was not possible, officers recommended areas which they are confident will benefit from these schemes. 

Q: How can I have my say?

A: All residents will be informed by letter if a scheme is launching in their area. 

We have chosen to implement the scheme on a temporary basis, under an experimental traffic order. 

This means that during the first six months, a survey will be launched on our consultation website to capture your views on how the measures are working, we can review feedback and make any necessary changes. This will allow enough time for you to experience the changes and for traffic patterns to have settled down. 

Q: What is a Low Traffic Area?

A: A Low Traffic Area is a group of residential streets, close to main roads (the places where buses, lorries and non-local traffic should be), where though-traffic from motor vehicles is discouraged or removed. This can be achieved with traffic filters, speed restrictions or camera enforcement. This allows residents of all ages to walk, cycle, meet or play where they live more easily. It also improves air quality. Similar schemes have been successfully implemented, not just in London but across the UK and Europe.

Q: What is a traffic filter? 

A: Traffic filters (sometimes also called modal filters) allow walking and cycling through a certain street or area, but restrict access to through traffic, either by presenting a physical barrier, like bollards or planters, or by camera enforcement. If you need to drive, your neighbourhood is still accessible by car but it makes it harder for through-traffic to drive through a residential area.

Camera enforcement is used to enable buses and emergency vehicles to access the area. Each low traffic area requires the installation of a small number of traffic filters. The location of these filters prevents motor vehicles cutting through the local area. 

Q: Will there be an increase in traffic on the main roads when the low traffic area schemes are installed? 

A: We will keep the impacts of all changes under review by monitoring traffic patterns on key roads, including main roads, following the introduction of each scheme. 

It is likely that in the beginning there will be a displacement of traffic in the area while people adjust to the new measures. However, evidence from similar projects in London shows that over time this increased traffic volume reduces as people make different travel decisions in response to them – main road traffic spreads out across the day, bus journey times are not significantly increased and air quality in main roads does not get worse. We know that some local residents will need to use cars to get about but if there’s an overall reduction in car use for short journeys, then this will not only make neighbourhood streets more pleasant and safer for everyone to enjoy but also make walking and cycling an easier and more attractive method of travel. 

Q: What is a bus gate?

A: A bus gate is a road closure with signs that prevents motor vehicles using the road, but allows buses to continue to use it. In other words, there is no physical barrier blocking motor vehicles.  The legal order and signage erected will allow the council to enforce the restriction without the use of a physical barrier.

 

Bus gate for illustrative purposes only. Picture credit: © Bill Harrison

Q: Can I still drive home? 

A: Yes. It is vital that people who need to use their cars, such as blue badge holders, can still do so. This is not a pedestrianisation scheme. Residents will still be able to access their property by car, as will visitors, deliveries from outside the area and services such as waste collection, but their routes may need to change. Vehicles will not be able to use residential streets as a cut-through.

We may need to remove a small number of parking bays near some filters, although we will keep this to a minimum and, if needed, we will try to find alternative locations for those we remove. 

Q: Will there be exemptions for residents or blue badge holders? 

A: There are no exemptions to traffic restrictions but all residents will still be able to drive to and from their homes, and people will still be able to access all amenities in the area by car.

Q: What will the impacts be on people with disabilities? 

A: Anyone who can currently access their home by motor vehicle, private car or taxi will still be able to after the schemes are installed. People who use walking aids, wheelchairs or mobility scooters will find the streets quieter, safer and more enjoyable with lower amounts of traffic, and fewer drivers using residential areas for quick short-cuts. The Council will ensure that dropped kerbs and level surfaces are kept clear of unnecessary obstructions. People with visual impairments will benefit from reduced traffic and road danger, and the reduction in noise should help with navigating their local area more easily. It’s also important to note that there are no plans to include any new “shared space” areas. Pavement space will be maintained for people walking or wheeling. The quieter and calmer streets should also make the streets more welcoming to people with cognitive disabilities. 

Q: What is an Experimental Traffic Order? 

A: An Experimental Traffic Order, like a permanent Traffic Regulation Order, is a legal document that imposes traffic and parking restrictions. However, unlike a Traffic Regulation Order, an Experimental Traffic Order can only stay in force for a maximum of 18 months while the effects are monitored and assessed. An Experimental Traffic Order is made under Sections 9 and 10 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. Once an Experimental Traffic Order comes into force there is a six month period in which objections can be made. If the ETO is subsequently modified, objections can be made in the six months following from the date of the changes. Please note that that any formal objection that is submitted may become a public document and could be published. 

Q: How will the 20mph speed limit be enforced?

A: Speed enforcement is the responsibility of the Police because speeding is a criminal offence. In London, the Police, in partnership with Transport for London and the Borough can install cameras to use as a deterrent against speeding but due to their high installation, maintenance and running costs are not used on all roads but prioritised to roads where speeding has been the main factor in causing many personal injury accidents. The schemes currently being introduced across the borough will not have any speed cameras. We will not be installing any speed reducing features, e.g. road humps, as part of the trial schemes. There will be 20mph signs and road markings to indicate which roads are 20mph and a traffic order written to allow the Police enforce the 20mph speed limit.

Q: How are you going to measure the success of the scheme?

A: We will study the volume of traffic before the launch of the trials and will be comparing this with traffic monitored during the six month trial period. We will also be gathering feedback from our residents on sutton.citizenspace.com

Q: Who makes the final decision to remove a scheme after the trial period comes to an end?

A: Delegate authority is given to the Interim Strategic Director, Environment, Housing and Regeneration, in consultation with the Chair of the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee. See recommendation 2.4 of the Strategy and Resouces Committee report

School Streets

Q: Why is the council putting these schemes in place now? 

A: Transport for London modelling predicts that, without action, traffic volumes may get much worse than before the COVID-19 crisis. We must act now to create more space for local people to use sustainable transport (like walking, or cycling) as an alternative to using public transport while there’s limited capacity, or turning to private motor vehicles. The development of technology, including sat-nav and associated mobile apps, has also led to an increase in vehicles cutting through residential areas as they travel through Sutton. If more people choose to drive as lockdown restrictions are eased, this will increase, making streets more dangerous and unhealthy for the people who live on them. This is why we are taking action now. 

Q: Where is the money coming from?

A: Sutton Council has been awarded £1million in emergency active travel funding from the Department for Transport and Transport for London. This is to implement more than 30 schemes borough-wide that will help social distancing and make it easier for people to walk and cycle safely.

Q: Why haven’t we been consulted before this work takes place? 

A: As an emergency fund from the Government and TfL, proposals from all London Boroughs had to be submitted quickly, making the normal public consultation process difficult. We submitted funding bids in June to TfL and the Government and all schemes must be delivered by September. 

Our Safer, Active, Greener, Streets programme has been based, as much as possible, on areas where the Council has carried out public consultations on this issue before. Where this was not possible, officers recommended areas which they are confident will benefit from these schemes. 

Q: How can I have my say?

A: All residents will be informed by letter if a scheme is launching in their area. 

We have chosen to implement the scheme on a temporary basis, under an experimental traffic order. 

This means that during the first six months, a survey will be launched on our consultation website to capture your views on how the measures are working, we can review feedback and make any necessary changes. This will allow enough time for you to experience the changes and for traffic patterns to have settled down. 

Q: What is a School Street?

A: School streets are, in their simplest form, timed closures to motor traffic outside schools - usually during pick up and drop off times. The School Street scheme has been run successfully in a number of other boroughs in London and across the UK. The results from these schemes show a positive improvement to the neighbourhoods they are run in, with an increase in sustainable travel to and from school, reduction of poor parking and improvement in air quality.

Q: When will the school streets scheme start?

A: The initial trial of the scheme will launch on: 

Monday 14 September 2020 at:

  • Overton Grange Secondary (Stanley Road) 

  • St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls & St Mary’s Catholic Juniors (Shorts Road) 

  • Rushy Meadow Primary (Fellowes Road) 

  • All Saints Carshalton C of E Primary School (Rotherfield Road)

  • Bandon Hill Primary School and Sherwood Hill School (Beddington Gardens)

Monday 21 September at: 

  • Cheam Park Farm Junior Academy (Kingston Avenue) 

  • Muschamp Primary (Muschamp Road)

  • St Elpheges Catholic Infants and Juniors (Roe Way)

Monday 28 September at:

  • Robin Hood Juniors (Thorncroft Road) 

  • Carshalton Boys Sports College (Winchcombe Road)

  • Harris Junior Academy, Carshalton (Camden Road) 

Monday 19 October at:

  • Cheam Common Infants' and Junior Academy (Kingsmead Avenue)

  • Cheam Fields Primary Academy (Stoughton Avenue)

 The trials will run for a minimum of six months.

Q: How do I apply for a permit?

A: Residents of the streets where Robin Hood Juniors (link here), Carshalton Boys Sports College (link here) and Harris Academy Juniors (link here) are situated will need to apply for a permit. Please note, residents will not need to register for exemptions at other school streets locations.

Q: What times are the restrictions in force?

A: Restriction times will differ from school to school due to staggered opening and closing times and the need to socially distance pupils. For the most part, school street schemes will run between 8.00-9.00am and 2.00-3.30pm. Traffic signs at each location will display official operation times.

Q: Does this mean residents on those roads can't have visitors or tradespeople arriving (by vehicle) between those times?

A: Please co-ordinate with any visitors or delivery companies to avoid arriving during the morning or afternoon operation times. 

The current set of prescribed automatic exemptions include residents, school staff, emergency vehicles and statutory undertakers such as utility company vehicles.

Q: Are there visitor permits?

A: At this time it is not proposed to provide permits to visitors.

Q: I have a district nurse/carer that comes to visit me. What will happen to them?

A: Your district nurse or carer will still be able to park on nearby roads and walk in. 

Q: I am a blue badge holder. What about me?

A:

  • Blue badge holders are exempt from the restrictions. 

  • Only Blue Badge holders where Robin Hood Juniors (link here), Carshalton Boys Sports College (link here) and Harris Academy Juniors (link here) are situated will need to register their status on the relevant vehicle registration form (this link will be available from 14 Sep).

  • Blue badge holders do not need to register their status for all other schemes.

  • For schemes which are being marshalled, please show your blue badge (through your windscreen) to a marshall who will allow you access through the relevant road, please remember to exercise extreme caution when driving during these times, as parents and children may be walking in the road. 

Q: Who enforces this restriction?

A: London Borough of Sutton Parking Enforcement team

Q: What is the penalty for driving through the area when the restrictions are in force?

A: Parking Charge Notice (PCN) of £130.00 discounted to £65 if paid within 14 days of the date of the notice.

Q: If there’s not a physical barrier how will this work?

A: There are gateway signs at the entrance to each restricted street with details of the times that the restriction is in force. Five schools have offered staff to help supervise the scheme and will have barriers. Each scheme will be subject to monitoring. If it is found that there is a high degree of non-compliance from parents and carers further restriction, such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, will be considered.

Q: Where can I park?

A: Parents/carers not able to walk their whole journey to school are asked to park outside of the restriction and complete the last part on foot.

We ask that all parents/carers park considerately and consider the access needs of local residents when parking.

Residents will be able to continue to access School Streets when the restriction is in force. Any existing parking restrictions in place on the roads will continue to operate and anyone parking in contravention of these will be liable for the relevant penalty notice.

Q: If my road is closed, how will emergency vehicles be able to access?

A: The safety of our residents is our top priority. Sutton Council is working closely with all the emergency services before each scheme is installed to make sure they can still access every street and will continue to work with them to see how the trial measures work in practice.

Streetspace

Q: I’d like to try cycling but I don’t own a bike, how can I get started?

A: Try Before You Bike - is a flexible bike scheme that will get you cycling

  • Trial a new or nearly new bike for a monthly fee from £10 for kids / £20 for adults / £20 for folding / £50 for electric.

  • Bike delivered directly to your door with a free cycle skills session to increase your confidence.

  • If you like the bike, buy at a discounted price or pay monthly.

  • Range of bikes to try with a helpful guide to selecting the right one for you.

  • All bikes come with lights, lock and helmet and you can add any other accessories you might need.

  • Maintenance and theft cover available for peace of mind.

  • Free delivery and collection. No deposit, interest or cancellation fees.

Sign up with Peddle My Wheels who run the programme on behalf of Sutton Council

Q: Does the council offer cycle training?

A: Our Adult and Family Cycle Skills sessions are now available. Please click here for details.

Unfortunately, we are not able to do any Child Bikeability Level 1, 2, or 3 Holiday courses or Bike Maintenance courses at the moment, but if you sign up to the waiting list we will let you know as soon as we are able to. 

Cycle Training Waiting List

Q: I would like a bike but don’t have anywhere to leave it overnight

A: Nine Cycle Hoop bike hangars are in use across the borough. Many spots are taken but you can Contact Cycle Hoop to enquire about a space. Cost is £72 a year.