A thread on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, social justice and
‘the poor people who live on the busy roads’.
I was one of those 'poor people'.
I hear a lot about this group suddenly, now we are discussing LTNs.

#socialjustice #AirPollution #LTNs
When I was a kid in the 70’s in Birmingham, we didn't have much. My first home was a high rise block on a council estate. Here I am aged 2 – I don’t know who’s house this was, because our house was pretty bare.
Here I am aged around 8, in the garden of our second home. Again it’s a council property but a house this time, not a flat.
Things were getting better - we were still broke, but we had a little more space.
The big drawback for both these homes were, despite loving parents and extended family, I was also surrounded by traffic. Both estates were situated on busy main roads, both homes had the constant white noise of cars just outside your door.
And when you live in a council house, so do all your friends and family. Even our school was situated on a busy road, so there was no escaping the hum of ‘progress’ moving past you.
I was aware our streets were busy. I will never forget the time I nearly got run over crossing my own street. The driver told me off for being careless.
I was 10.
So as a kid, I knew that our street was busier than most. The smell of car fumes was constantly in my nose, and I have memories of writing my name in the dirty dust on windowsills. I felt the dust had seeped into my clothes and skin.
My family were not well-travelled. We were travelled upon.
Cars are an ever-present backdrop in your life, reminding your life is not like other people’s lives. Even as a kid, I wanted people to stop driving. We used buses and walked. Why didn’t everyone else?
So if you are worried about LTNs, and the vulnerable people on busy roads just outside them, that’s good. It’s a step towards empathy. A step towards being part of the solution.
The 8 year old me would say
‘Don’t drive past my house. Find another way of getting about’.
If you are sat in a car and looking at the homes of people you say you care about, then you are actively participating in the problem.
Be part of the solution.
Don’t drive past their house. If you are able, find another way of getting about.
And support LTNs.
An LTN means vulnerable people will have a safe route to walk to school, to play and cycle on, to walk to work.
An LTN will improve things for the whole community.
And then you will need to fight for further measures that will improve their lives.
And hopefully, eventually, if everyone genuinely cares about vulnerable groups who suffer the effects of car use, people will make better choices and drive less, and everyone will experience less traffic going past their homes.
If you are fighting against LTNs to protect ‘the poor people on the busy roads’ but still drive past them, remember
*you are actively participating in the problem*
Maybe you aren’t the one driving, but fighting LTNs just means you are condoning that others can drive instead.
Work with the council to shape LTNs, tell them what can be improved - engage with the process, don't push back.
Keeping the status quo means more of the same for the vulnerable, and you will return to your usual life, and you won’t have helped them one little bit.
Finally, if you think fewer parking spaces is the solution, or electric cars, or pay per use, or slower roads, or any other traffic control measure, I agree all these have merit, but as other ways to support LTNs.
And good luck getting them because people fight tooth and nail against these ideas too, and all the other good things that would actually help the most vulnerable amongst us.
And if you still think the status quo is better than communities with LTNs, please read this paper. It’s called Fairness in a Car Dependent Society.
Traffic oppresses poorer communities. Don’t drive past their homes. And support LTNs.
You can follow @susancashmere.
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