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Desperate father claims his children are ‘choking’ on extra fumes from low-traffic neighbourhood

A ‘desperate’ ex-police officer claims he’s being forced to lock his children indoors with the windows and doors shut as clean air initiatives are funneling four-hour traffic jams past his home.

Ediz Mevlit says his daughter Melissa, 12, and son Dilan, eight, have even been hospitalised from ‘choking’ on the fumes from the ‘disgraceful carnage’ outside his home in Palmers Green, Enfield, North London, almost every afternoon.

The 46-year-old explains his 20mph-limit street is now being used as a ‘rat run’ between the congested A105 and a parallel main road since Enfield Council introduced Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) nearby.

LTNs restrict or ban vehicle access in designated streets and they have expanded in London during the pandemic, as the government moves to encourage walking and cycling. But critics argue that the scheme has led to extra traffic flow elsewhere.

Seven LTNS were scrapped in Ealing last month after they were found to increase congestion and caused ‘no material change in air quality’, according to the local authority’s report. 

Ediz Mevlit, 46, says he has been forced to lock his children, Melissa (left), 12, and Dilan (right). eight, indoors to protect them from car fumes 

Mr Mevlit says there is 'disgraceful carnage' outside his home in Palmers Green, Enfield, North London, almost every afternoon as a result of LTNs

Mr Mevlit says there is ‘disgraceful carnage’ outside his home in Palmers Green, Enfield, North London, almost every afternoon as a result of LTNs

Mr Mevlit has become an outspoken campaigner on Twitter against the LTNs

Mr Mevlit has become an outspoken campaigner on Twitter against the LTNs

Elsewhere, a review by Wandsworth Council last December found that levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were higher at 11 streets as a result of nearby road closures but dropped when seven LTN schemes were halted.

During peak hours, Mr Mevlit says he either keeps his children inside and shuts the windows or he drives them two or three miles away for a walk in cleaner air – but he insists the damage is already being done

He said: ‘I just want to protect my family. We shut all our windows and doors, so we effectively lock ourselves in. It’s horrific.

‘They’ve decided to provide the most affluent people with a low traffic neighbourhood and that’s forced vehicles to be displaced in roads like mine.

‘Sometimes the pollution gets that bad I have to take my children into a low traffic neighbourhood for a walk in clean air. Anywhere apart from being at home.’

In the past four months, Mr Mevlit says he has taken his ‘wheezing and choking’ children to hospital with breathing difficulties and he believes they will soon be diagnosed with asthma as a result of the traffic flow change.

In videos shared to social media on Sunday, Mr Mevlit documented the congestion on his road, which has a school on it, while adding: ‘we are choking’.   

Mr Mevlit said: ‘They’ve been to the hospital with breathing difficulties and the doctors have tests planned. They’ll probably be diagnosed with asthma very soon.

‘They’ve been suffering from breathlessness and wheezing for about four months now. They cough and choke and the damage is already being done.

‘We can’t go for walks and going to the shop is a hazard. There’s motorbikes and quad bikes travelling down pavements. It’s absolutely dangerous and we’ve just been ignored.’

The 46-year-old explains his 20mph street is being used as a 'rat run' between the congested A105 and another main road since Enfield Council introduced Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

The 46-year-old explains his 20mph street is being used as a ‘rat run’ between the congested A105 and another main road since Enfield Council introduced Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Mr Mevlit's determination to end the congestion has inspired him to run as a ward councillor in the local election in May

Mr Mevlit’s determination to end the congestion has inspired him to run as a ward councillor in the local election in May

He added: ‘I’m just a desperate parent. I’m not willing to let my children be used as collateral for an experiment which has failed.’

Mr Mevlit says the traffic begins as early as 3.30pm and continues until around 6pm. He says he can smell the fumes from the traffic wafting into his semi-detached home.   

Mr Mevlit and his family have become vocal campaigners against LTNs

Mr Mevlit and his family have become vocal campaigners against LTNs

His determination to end the congestion has inspired him to run as a ward councillor in the local election in May and become a vocal campaigner on Twitter.

Enfield Council said they are currently collating traffic data, cycle and pedestrian volumes, impact on emergency services, community feedback, equality considerations, air quality, noise, Healthy Streets indicators and road collisions.

A future decision report planned for publication by early next year will summarise this information and will inform a decision on the future of the trial.

A spokesman said: ‘Enfield Council’s Low Traffic Neighbourhoods were funded by and follow the guidance laid out by the current government and are designed to create more space for people to participate in active travel such as walking, cycling and scooting.

‘They are specifically designed to encourage people to use more sustainable modes of transport. With fewer people driving and more travelling actively, air quality will improve, carbon emissions are reduced, reducing the borough’s contribution to climate change in line with our aim for Enfield to be carbon neutral by 2040.

‘However we have been clear from the start of this process that the introduction of LTNs was on a trial basis and we would review their performance, their impact on traffic flow and residents’ comments, before deciding whether or not to make individual schemes permanent.

‘The formal consultation process for the scheme in question ran from September 28 to May 2, 2021. The council is currently in the process of collating and assessing all the data and feedback collected during the monitoring period, ahead of a decision being made on the future of the LTNs later this year or early next year.’

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods: What are they and why are they popular? 

According to a guide prepared by the London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets, motorists cutting through residential areas has an impact on the health and well-being of people who live there.

These groups insist that the introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods brings about a range of benefits.

Pictured: An almost empty cycle lane next to traffic in central London

Pictured: An almost empty cycle lane next to traffic in central London 

They stated: ‘To reduce air pollution, lower collision rates, increase community activity and increase the physical activity of residents, we need to enable a lot more people to walk and cycle. 

‘These “active” modes of travel become the default in low traffic neighbourhoods partly because they feel very easy, safe and comfortable.

‘Active travel also goes up in low traffic neighbourhoods by making car use a bit less convenient. If car use is really convenient, people use the car, but by making some driving journeys a bit more inconvenient, people switch modes, yet the main roads don’t suffer. 

‘More walking and cycling-friendly neighbourhoods are good for local business and can help local high streets thrive too.

‘These neighbourhoods align directly with the new Mayor’s Transport Strategy. So funding and support from TfL and City Hall should be easier to access – and cutting motor traffic from your neighbourhoods will help your borough fulfil its targets in the Transport Strategy.’

Source: www.livingstreets.org.uk 


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