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Low Traffic Neighbourhoods DO delay 999 responses says ambulance chief

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods do delay 999 responses because paramedics don’t know the road changes, an ambulance chief has revealed.

Garrett Emmerson, who stood down as chairman of the London Ambulance Service last month, said some paramedics were caught out when the roads were changed ‘very quickly’ during lockdown.

There were more than 150 separate instances of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) slowing down ambulance crews in London in an eight-month period, it emerged earlier this year.

Mr Garrett told LBC radio the LTNs do not show on SatNavs, meaning crews were impeded in areas they did not know.

He said: ‘It is all right if you know the area, but our crews work all across London. Then, when going into an area of London they know less well and relying on satellite navigation that is not up to date – some new restriction has gone in – is where a lot of the problems occur.’

Garrett Emmerson (right, with Boris Johnson), who stood down as chairman of the London Ambulance Service last month, said some paramedics were caught out when the roads were changed ‘very quickly’ during lockdown

Motorists dug up flowers and destroyed plants as part of their angry protest against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Dulwich Village, South London

Motorists dug up flowers and destroyed plants as part of their angry protest against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Dulwich Village, South London

LTNs were brought in during lockdown last year to redirect traffic away from residential areas.

The Government has insisted the 200 LTNs created in the UK during the pandemic have received more support than criticism.

However, the measure – which has involved installing cycle lanes, closing off roads to through traffic and widening pavements – has proven unpopular among motorists, particularly commuters and taxi drivers in London. 

The neighbourhoods were widely touted to block emergency services vehicles, with video footage emerging showing fire engines halted and crews forced to run to the location.  

There were more than 150 separate instances of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) slowing down ambulance crews in London in an eight-month period, it emerged earlier this year. Pictured, a steady stream of patients were brought to Royal London Hospital last year

There were more than 150 separate instances of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) slowing down ambulance crews in London in an eight-month period, it emerged earlier this year. Pictured, a steady stream of patients were brought to Royal London Hospital last year

The Government has insisted the 200 LTNs created in the UK during the pandemic have received more support than criticism. Pictured, an LTN in Islington, North London

The Government has insisted the 200 LTNs created in the UK during the pandemic have received more support than criticism. Pictured, an LTN in Islington, North London

Mr Garrett said he could not ‘definitely’ say the delays caused by the LTNs cos lives, but said the speed with which they were built was the major issue.

He added: ‘Have they delayed responses? Yes, in certain situations I think they have delayed certain responses because they had to be put in very quickly.’

Some 159 delays to 999 calls were flagged by paramedics in the eight months to February this year, according to data revealed in May by a Freedom of Information request.

But the zones ‘did not increase response times’, according to the government’s analysis of more than 100,000 emergency callouts since they were implemented. 

In March a controversial London cycleway blocked three emergency service vehicles in just 24 hours.

A blue-lit fire engine was halted (pictured), a police car's driver was forced to turn around and an ambulance had to weave between traffic after congestion built up on Chiswick High Road in west London

A blue-lit fire engine was halted (pictured), a police car’s driver was forced to turn around and an ambulance had to weave between traffic after congestion built up on Chiswick High Road in west London

A blue-lit fire engine was halted, a police car’s driver was forced to turn around and an ambulance had to weave between traffic after congestion built up on Chiswick High Road in west London. 

Video footage taken from a flat overlooking the busy road, which features Cycleway 9, showed the emergency services struggling to get past slow-moving cars and buses in three separate incidents today and yesterday.

Another video shows a blue-lit fire engine wedged between a wooden planter and a parked white car in Ferndale, south London.

As firefighters ditch the vehicle and make the short walk to the nearby incident, one angry resident can be heard raging against the scheme, saying: ‘You are trying to say this is good for us?’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan oversaw the rapid construction of a cycling network using temporary plastic bollards

London Mayor Sadiq Khan oversaw the rapid construction of a cycling network using temporary plastic bollards 

Previously, Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for fair fuel, told World at One of BBC Radio 4 the schemes were in ‘ridiculous places’. 

In January,  Justice Lang ruled London’s ‘Streetspace’ scheme was ‘seriously flawed’ and ‘took advantage of the pandemic’ to push through ‘radical’ and permanent changes to London‘s roads.

The lanes sparked criticism from motorists for increasing congestion, and one on Kensington High Street was removed late last year following a local outcry.  

In addition to cycle lanes, Streetspace – which was put in place last May – saw the implementation of bus gates, banned turns and restricted access to streets in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods across London with the aim of encouraging walking and cycling.

Another video shows the blue-lit emergency vehicle wedged between a wooden planter and a parked white vehicle in Ferndale, south London

Another video shows the blue-lit emergency vehicle wedged between a wooden planter and a parked white vehicle in Ferndale, south London

The fire engine became blocked as it attempted to enter a road which has been shut off to motorised vehicles

Firefighters had to continue on foot after it became trapped between a planter and a car

The fire engine became blocked as it attempted to enter a road which has been shut off to motorised vehicles. Firefighters had to continue on foot after it became trapped between a planter and a car

An unknown female vigilante took it upon herself to defend drivers at risk of £130 fines after Hounslow council quietly converted a popular road into a bus lane. The 'Turnham Green fairy' was regularly spotted in a high-vis jacket in Chiswick

An unknown female vigilante took it upon herself to defend drivers at risk of £130 fines after Hounslow council quietly converted a popular road into a bus lane. The ‘Turnham Green fairy’ was regularly spotted in a high-vis jacket in Chiswick

In November it was reported drivers had turned to guerilla tactics to battle against London’s increasing number of cycle-lanes as some shared tips online for how to remove road bollards.

It followed a legal challenge by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) and United Trade Action Group (UTAG) against the decision to ban cab drivers from the new Bishopsgate Bus Gate scheme.

The scheme was part of plans to make the area one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world.

In the lengthy and detailed judgement Justice Lang noted that denying taxis access to London’s roads could have ‘severe consequences’ for passengers who cannot walk, cycle, or use public transport and that ‘the needs of people with protected characteristics, including the elderly or disabled’, were ‘not considered’.   

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