Graphic of people with pushchair

More walking, wheeling and cycling - and less motor traffic - are vital for making our communities cleaner, safer and more pleasant.

Lucy Colbeck from Playing Out

Photo: Playing Out

One way of achieving this is creating Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) - also known as Liveable Neighbourhoods - which stop motor vehicles from using quiet roads as shortcuts. 
 
But despite the successes of such schemes, creating them comes with challenges, including addressing local concerns or even opposition. 
 
Starting more Play Streets is one approach that can help.
 
These temporary road closures, which enable children to play safely, are excellent ways to reclaim public spaces for young people, children and families.
 
And as Lucy Colbeck from Playing Out explains, they can also build support for further improvements.

Two young children cycling on the road in an LTN
Two children at a play street event

The challenges of changing our streets

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) or Liveable Neighbourhoods (which we think is a more positive term) - have gained a lot of attention and government support recently.  

 

At Playing Out, we want to see a world where children are safe to play out close to home every day.  

 

Reducing traffic on a neighbourhood-wide scale is very appealing as a way to enable this.  

 

However, in our car-dominated society these projects are complex, difficult to get right and often controversial.  

 

As well as safe, traffic-free space, children also need cohesive communities in order to play out every day – and the conflict often caused by badly managed LTNs can be damaging to this. 

Change can be frightening, particularly if you are already dealing with precarity or stress in your daily life.  

 

People who are concerned about house/rent price rises and gentrification sometimes see LTNs as a threat to their existence in a certain neighbourhood.

 

Businesses are often concerned about deliveries and removal of parking spaces for their customers.  

 

These fears are not always borne out in the end, but they are nonetheless legitimate concerns that need to be heard and addressed as part of a comprehensive engagement process for any LTN.  

 

Last year, we wrote more about how we think LTNs need to be managed based on our experiences with play streets 

Bollard with cycle symbol, cyclist and pedestrians in background
A play street event

Play streets - a conversation starter

A play street or a school play street can be a really positive starting point for a conversation about LTNs.

Rather than focussing on the removal of cars, play streets and school play streets focus on the needs of children and community.

Because they are temporary closures, they are less threatening and allow people the chance to experience the joy of a car-free, people and play-filled space for a few hours at a time.

We are hearing from resident groups who want to campaign for an LTN, who are starting with a play street or school play street and using these temporary closures as a way to start raising awareness and engagement around the idea.

Watch this gorgeous 3min film demonstrating how play streets and school play streets work in Hackney.

Set up your own play street

Playing Out offers free resources to help you set up your own play street. They can also put you in touch with others working on projects across the UK. 

 

Get involved

Walkable neighbourhoods

Cities around the world are now competing in terms of liveability. At Living Streets we think that central to this is ensuring our streets are walkable. 

 

Find out more