I’ve written three articles about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in the past couple of months. (Article 1, Article 2, Article 3) Writing about LTNs made me think about where I live. Unwittingly I chose to live in a LTN.
I live in a 1960’s estate known as the Beeches estate. The estate is mostly self contained. There are no through roads from one side to the other. Different sections of the estate are accessed via different roads. This means that people in cars can’t use the estate as a cut through. You can walk and potentially cycle through it. The result of this is that only people who live or are visiting somebody on the estate will enter the estate. When I visited my house before I bought it, I noticed how much green space there is on the estate. Directly in front of my house are trees and a nice looking lawn. A two minute walk away from my house is a park. Because of the nice, green spaces that are outside our homes, children play in these spaces. In the summer it is nice to walk around the estate and look at the trees. Being surrounded by green spaces is better than being surrounded by concrete. On the estate there is very little pollution because vehicles are not driving through. The estate feels secure, as the houses overlook each other. It would be obvious to the neighbours if one of the houses was being broken into. It is not dominated by cars being driven through it, though the biggest problem cited by people here revolves around cars.
Parking; the biggest problem
Cars can not be parked immediately outside my house, though parking is the number one concern of the residents. Each house in my row has a garage, but they are mostly in disrepair and are not usually in use. Back when my house was built in 1968 each household may have had one car. Now some households have 3-4 cars. This means there are more cars than places to park the cars, causing cars to be parked all over the paths. If you have mobility issues, navigating the cars can be a problem. Residents regularly argue about where they can park. Even though there are roads, which are not owned by any individual, some people think that they have a right to park outside their house at all times.
The 1960’s estate that I live on has many of the features that LTN campaigners are seeking to have on their residential roads. Newer estates tend to have less green space and parking is a priority, which takes some of the neighbourly feel from the estates away. Older roads often don’t have the space for the amount of cars that the householders own. As I’ve written elsewhere LTNs prioritise space for people over car drivers.