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Rapid evidence assessment: Liveable and low traffic neighbourhoods

Michalec, Aleksandra; Whitmarsh, Lorraine; de Vito, Laura; Clayton, William


Aleksandra Michalec

Lorraine Whitmarsh

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Dr Laura De Vito
Senior Research Fellow in Air Quality Management


The Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change (BACCC) has produced this rapid assessment of policy proposals linked to the theme of 'Low Traffic Neighbourhoods' (LTC) and 'Liveable Neighbourhoods' (LN).
LNs became a part of mainstream policy discussion in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as suggestions to increase pavement space and encourage active transport (i.e. cycling and walking) were justified with the need for social distancing measures.
However, the spirit of LNs is far from new - a range of adjacent design models have been present in the policy and public discussions for years, starting from city centre pedestrianisation, through liveable cities, 15-minute cities to resident parking schemes.
Ultimately, these concepts paint a vision of sustainable, pollution-free cities, where all residents, no matter of the ability, gender or age, feel safe to walk and cycle; and where key amenities and public transport are within a short walk distance.
In such cities, many people wouldn't need to drive a car to commute, shop or drop children at school, as the provision of alternatives would be sufficient and attractive. From a long-term governance perspective, such proposals are considered as means to contribute to climate strategies (such as Bristol's One City Climate Strategy and the UK Government's Clean Air Strategy).
As promising as these visions might be, the delivery of such proposals across cities has been patchy. Public consultations reveal a range of common objections: fear of negative impact on high street businesses, displacement of traffic elsewhere and middle-class bias. Meanwhile, research interviews with developers or civil servants shine a light on systemic barriers to joined-up urban design, for example: developers' perception of consumer demand for housing developments with good parking availability and conflicting policy goals of highways departments versus sustainable transport departments in local authorities (Design Council, 2018).
As a result, we end up in a situation where individual choices are entangled with systemic constraints and differentiating between evidence and rhetoric becomes a major challenge.
In a response to a request from Bristol One City Stakeholders, this rapid review aims to gather and assess the quality and quantity of evidence on LNs. Whenever possible, we will refer to policy proposals present in the local consultation documents and public support or objections with regards to these proposals.


Michalec, A., Whitmarsh, L., de Vito, L., & Clayton, W. (2021). Rapid evidence assessment: Liveable and low traffic neighbourhoods. Bristol, UKI: Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change

Report Type Technical Report
Publication Date Mar 16, 2021
Deposit Date Mar 16, 2021
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