ROADS in residential streets across Oxfordshire should be changed to stop commuters from speeding along them.

That was the agreement by county councillors this week.

It comes after plans for the first so-called Low Traffic Neighbourhood – in Cowley – were revealed last week.

These LTNs use ‘filters’ like bollards or plant pots in the road to discourage traffic from using residential areas as a shortcut on their way to work.

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At a meeting on Tuesday, Labour councillor John Sanders asked other members of Oxfordshire County Council to ‘support the concept of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and aim to introduce them when and where feasible’.

Work on Oxfordshire’s first LTN is currently underway in Cowley, with barriers going up in Rymers Lane and Cornwallis Road to stop commuters cutting through the area and to cut pollution.

The Cowley LTN is being paid for with part of a £300,000 Government grant which is aimed at encouraging people to switch to use bikes and to walk instead of driving.

Labour councillor Susanna Pressel spoke in support of the plan.

She said her council colleagues should not be worried about footfall to shops falling, as the London borough of Waltham Forest, which had already introduced an LTN, had seen a 93 per cent increase in footfall, with pedestrians and cyclists more likely to shop locally and more often than drivers.

Lib Dem councillor Richard Webber said endorsing more LTNs was ‘an incredibly important motion’ and said it could also be used to help villages which suffered from congestion in rural Oxfordshire.

There was a note of caution about the long-term effects of LTNs from Conservative councillors.

David Bartholomew said that ‘nobody chose to rat run’ and the root cause of the problem needed to be solved.

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He suggested that creating filters was the ‘stick’ and a ‘carrot’ needed to be found as well.

Cabinet member for transport Yvonne Constance added that LTNs often displaced traffic into surrounding areas, causing them to suffer the ill effects of air pollution and congested streets instead, and said something needed to be done to help people those areas, too.

And Nick Carter said LTNs might not be appropriate for Oxfordshire’s market towns as it could stifle local businesses ability to bounce back from lockdown.

Mr Carter added: “The rat running [in towns], such as it is, is often through retail centres, high streets, et cetera where retailers are as we all know busy at the moment trying to resurrect their businesses.”

Labour councillor Damian Haywood tried to answer some of their concerns and said areas surrounding existing low traffic neighbourhoods had born witness to a phenomenon he called ‘traffic evaporation’, where congestion decreased by 15 per cent.

He also added that LTNs had snowballed in Waltham Forest, with more neighbourhoods demanding that the scheme be rolled out for them too.

The county council backed Mr Sanders’ proposal to introduce more LTNs where possible.

16/07/20: This article  has been updated to remove the term 'ban' or references to cars facing bans. Cars are not banned in LTNs.