Would you like cleaner air where you live? Peace and quiet? Less traffic? Safer streets? Play areas for kids and safe routes to school? An attractive, thriving local high street with outdoor seating and lots of greenery? Higher life expectancy?
If so, then you’ll like a proven way to give you all this – Liveable Neighbourhoods.
These are residential neighbourhoods with traffic filters inside them to stop cars, vans and lorries using the streets as rat-runs. Residents can still drive to their homes, residents and businesses can still get deliveries, and pedestrians and bikes can get through freely. And the reduced traffic brings a wide range of benefits.
Liveable Neighbourhoods are a huge boon to local businesses. High streets in these areas become attractive destinations where people want to spend their time again and again, and so footfall and trade increase.
There’s now a groundswell of public support for low-traffic neighbourhoods, but the council won’t provide them if we don’t show we want them.
So please join the discussion in your local Liveable Neighbourhoods online group – there is one for each local area.
And please sign our petition to ask Bristol City Council to work with local people to create Liveable Neighbourhoods across the city, starting now and completing by the end of the next mayoral and council term in May 2024. We’ll break down signatures by postcode to show the council the strength of support in your area.
We’ve already sent an open letter to the mayor and council, which you can read in the FAQs section below.
Got questions? Answers below, and don’t forget to watch the video of Waltham Forest’s amazing transformation into ‘Mini-Holland’.
Let’s make Bristol liveable!
What defines a Liveable Neighbourhood?
A Liveable Neighbourhood is a group of residential streets that are bounded by the kind of main roads that buses, lorries, and non-local traffic should really be on, and discourages or prevents through-traffic.
Residents and local businesses still have full access and can get deliveries, but the only way to pass from one main road to another is on foot or by bike.
The schemes rely on traffic filters, which can be bollards or planters, for example. The filters are placed at strategic locations inside the neighbourhood so that no useful through-routes remain and rat-run traffic isn’t displaced onto other streets within the neighbourhood.
In Liveable Neighbourhoods, the streets are for locals, not through-traffic.
What happens to traffic levels in Liveable Neighbourhoods?
With through-traffic gone, the streets in Liveable Neighbourhoods see dramatic reductions in motor traffic, and often in traffic speeds too.
Doesn’t the traffic cause congestion outside the Liveable Neighbourhoods?
Not really. Just as new roads lead to an increase in traffic, taking some roads away for through-traffic leads to a decrease. Research shows that around 15% of displaced traffic can disappear from the area entirely as drivers avoid the area, change to a different form of transport, or even cancel their journeys. (More detail about this ‘traffic evaporation’ here)
A Westminster University study found no evidence that time spent in cars was increasing, which would be expected if congestion increased.
Do Liveable Neighbourhoods affect residents’ activity levels and health?
In London, several boroughs have introduced Liveable Neighbourhoods. Westminster University studied them after the changes had been in place for one year. The research compared people living in the parts of these boroughs that had been changed the most to favour active travel with those living in similar but unchanged areas. In the changed areas, people were, on average, walking and cycling for 41 minutes a week more than the other areas.
Researchers calculate that in Liveable Neighbourhoods, life expectancy increases by 7–9 months, due to improved air quality and residents’ increased activity.
How do Liveable Neighbourhoods affect local businesses?
Liveable Neighbourhoods are a great opportunity for businesses to get higher footfall and increase trade.
A wealth of evidence shows that schemes friendly to pedestrians and people on bikes are a real boon to high streets. Improvements to the pedestrian environment have led to average increases in footfall of 32% and retail turnover by 17%.
This makes sense. The rise of internet shopping means that high streets need to do more than just sell things. They need to become destinations where people enjoy spending their time and will keep returning.
Where have Liveable Neighbourhoods been successfully introduced?
Liveable Neighbourhoods have been implemented successfully in the UK. Despite some initial opposition, they have proved popular with residents and been widely hailed as a huge success.
The best-known is Waltham Forest in London, and this gallery of before-and-after photos of the borough shows what we could have in Bristol, with enough popular and political support. (See also the video of Waltham Forest above on our web page, and this fascinating 12-minute video presentation and tour of Waltham Forest by expert local Dan Kelly.)
Are there already plans for Liveable Neighbourhoods in Bristol?
The Draft Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan for the West of England identifies St Werburgh’s and Southville as two areas of Bristol where Liveable Neighbourhoods could be implemented. But the plan covers the period 2020-2036 so that means only two Liveable Neighbourhoods over the next 15 years.
Does Bristol City Council support Liveable Neighbourhoods?
Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Transport, and Councillor Nicola Beech have both shown an interest in Liveable Neighbourhoods by touring the scheme in Waltham Forest. And Councillor Dudd has said that the council will bring forward initial proposals for liveable streets as soon as possible, and that it will be keen to engage with communities.
But any new scheme affecting traffic is often controversial, and it will be important for us local people to show our support for Liveable Neighbourhoods for the council to take the political risk of implementing the schemes.
Isn’t it a risk to change to a Liveable Neighbourhood?
Liveable Neighbourhoods can initially be trialled for 12–18 months before they are made permanent if they are popular (and they almost always are). This way, local residents and businesses are in control of the process and if the scheme is unpopular then it can be altered or removed entirely.
How can I help my area become a Liveable Neighbourhood?
Liveable Neighbourhoods won’t happen without popular support from local people in their local area. So please sign our petition and then use the search tool above to find a Liveable Neighbourhoods group in your area and start convincing your neighbours, local councillors and the mayor that the time for change has come.
This all sounds great. Have you asked the council to help us get Liveable Neighbourhoods?
Yes, we sent the following open letter to the mayor and each councillor, co-signed by organisations that support the request. We also sent it to all four main political parties in Bristol (Conservative, Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat) asking them to show it to their candidates for the upcoming 2021 local elections.
‘We are writing as a network of Bristol organisations to ask you to work with local people to create Liveable Neighbourhoods across the city, starting now and completing by the end of the next mayoral and council term in May 2024.
‘As you will know, Liveable Neighbourhoods are residential areas that contain traffic filters to stop cars, vans and lorries using the streets as rat-runs. Residents can still drive to their homes, residents and businesses can still get deliveries, and pedestrians and bikes can get through freely.
‘In Liveable Neighbourhoods, the resulting reduced traffic has many benefits. Air quality improves. So does road safety. Social distancing is easier. There is safe space for play areas for children, and room for outdoor seating for businesses. Tree-planting and landscaping can be done, making the streets greener and more pleasant.
‘Residents’ life expectancy improves because the air is cleaner and they walk and cycle more. High streets in Liveable Neighbourhoods become attractive destinations where people want to spend their time again and again, and so footfall and trade increase.
‘As well as these benefits for citizens, Liveable Neighbourhoods would help the council meet its One City plans for a healthy and sustainable city, including its goal for a carbon-neutral Bristol by 2030.
‘We are encouraged by the statement by Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Transport, that the council will be bringing forward initial proposals for liveable streets with less traffic on local roads as soon as possible, and that it will be be keen to engage with communities.
‘To this end, Liveable Neighbourhood Facebook groups have been set up in each local area in Bristol, and we invite you – the mayor and current councillors – as well as prospective councillors, to join the discussion in your local groups.
‘We have also started a petition that people in Bristol can sign to ask for Liveable Neighbourhoods to show their support for this policy. More information, and signposting to local Liveable Neighbourhood Facebook groups, can be found on our website.
‘The extraordinary circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic present a perhaps once-in-a-generation opportunity to build back better. We hope that we can help each other to do this.
‘We look forward to your response.’
What can I do to promote Liveable Neighbourhoods across Bristol?
Everyone neighbourhood in Bristol deserves clean air and safe and pleasant streets, so please tell your friends and family in the city about this campaign, and ask them to sign the petition and find their own Liveable Neighbourhoods group in their own area. It’s time to transform Bristol!
Liveable Neighbourhoods for Brislington