Carmageddon in Streatham: Botched Low Traffic Neighbourhood leaves locals fuming, including me!

2 November 2023, 08:43 | Updated: 2 November 2023, 13:58

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are coming, even if the majority of residents don't want them, my one is carnage
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are coming, even if the majority of residents don't want them, my one is carnage. Picture: LBC/Alamy
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

I used to enjoy the freedom of coming and going from my home as I pleased. But ever since vast swathes of Streatham were turned into a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN), residents feel trapped.

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In my view, the implementation of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Streatham has been an absolute fiasco. The council has taken a sledgehammer approach to solving traffic issues, with little regard for residents like me who now feel like prisoners in our own homes.

Gone are the days when residents could directly access the main roads in just a minute or two. Now, due to the road closures and traffic filters, I'm forced to take a roundabout route on residential streets to even leave my neighbourhood.

What used to be a couple of turns is now a winding maze just to reach the nearest main road, which is jam-packed solid anyway because all of the traffic has been shunted down there.

And because I live in the, absurdly named, "purple zone" there are only two routes I can take out, and one of those is a "school street" so is closed for several hours each day, causing yet more travel chaos.

School Streets restrict vehicle access to streets around schools around Lambeth during school drop-off and pick-up times.

So if locals want to leave at certain times there is just one residential road they can go down.

And you're buggered on bin day...

Don't get me wrong, I support measures to slow down speeding cars and make the streets safer. But closing off direct access for locals in the name of an LTN seems excessive. I've lived here for years – why should I be treated like an unwanted intruder in my own community?

Six years and I didn't even know my next-door neighbour's name, now I'm in three WhatsApp groups with them and much of the wider community around the area.

My phone pings every few minutes with updates. During the morning rush hour (or rush hours as it now is) the updates can be every few seconds.

"Christchurch Rd backing up to Norwood Rd & SCR. Lots of deep water on the roads too. Be careful out there everyone"

"Traffic bumper to bumper Norwood High Street, knock-on effect from Streatham LTNs"

"Just gone for a walk. Traffic queued up SCN back as far as the traffic lights by Tate House and down the common. I have never seen this in 9 years at any time of day"

The longer trip distance means more time wasted behind the wheel and more pollution spewed into the air from idling engines. And good luck to any visitors or delivery drivers trying to find my house now with the circuitous routes, it would be easier to complete the Crystal Maze.

And on the subject of delivery drivers, twice now Amazon delivery drivers simply refused to deliver to my street, causing some level of dog food chaos for one neighbour.

To make things even worse, on Sunday morning I sat and watched the tracking on the Uber Eats app as the delivery driver came with my, frankly ridiculously overpriced, brunch.

I watched the moped come down Leigham Court Road only for it to get to the junction with Valley Road (where the roadblock is) and then turn around and drive off!

Moments later my order was cancelled because "the road was blocked." No smashed avocado on toast for me, no tip for the delivery driver. Great work Lambeth Council.

I was so annoyed I went out and stood at the barrier warning drivers for an hour.

It's not just cars, everything gets stuck, buses, everything. Sitting on a bus in the rain watching an ambulance with its blue lights

With less traffic permitted inside, our residential roads have become eerily quiet which has raised a lot of concerns, especially from people who feel unsafe because there is nobody there to help them if something happens. But the main perimeter roads are now clogged with diverted traffic. So how exactly is this a net win for reducing overall congestion? It seems the problems were just pushed outside our zone, not solved.

I'm all for making streets safer and communities more livable, but the council needs to go back to the drawing board before more communities are torn apart in the name of progress.

The council asked if we wanted it, and the majority of locals said no. They did it anyway, and they didn't even do it well.