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Firefighters delayed by Low Traffic Neighbourhood... because vandalised bollard wouldn't unlock

The simple mechanism which allows emergency services to remove the bollard using a key was damaged by vandals

Finally proof of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood delaying emergency services from attending an urgent call-out, but not really because the bollard —  designed to be easily removed using a key in such instances — was damaged by vandals.

Despite the London Fire Brigade last year confirming it had not seen any impact on response times as a result of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) being rolled out, it is one of the most frequently heard arguments from critics and inevitably pops up every time a council proposes bringing the low traffic schemes to their area.

In Oxford this week, however, it was not an LTN, but instead the handy work of vandals, which delayed firefighters from attending an incident.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service had to cut out a bollard in Clive Road on Tuesday after they were unable to use the key-activated mechanism which easily removes the obstacle in an emergency.

The BBC reported that Oxfordshire County Council said the vandalism had "affected the mechanism which would allow it to normally be removed using a key" before adding the startling news that "costs for damage to bollards and planters has now topped £12,000 since the measures were launched on 20 May."

A consultation on the schemes is running until November and the cut-out bollard will be replaced, but vandalism is overshadowing the roll-out of the project.

Bollards in east Oxford were removed and planters vandalised less than 24 hours after a six-month trial was launched last month.

A couple of weeks later, in the face of repeated vandalism, 'human bollards' including Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew Gant stepped in to replace a bollard which had been vandalised "six or seven times".

> Low Traffic Neighbourhood 'human bollards' step in following repeated vandalism

One of the 'human bollards' said they were "pleased" they had "reminded drivers that it is illegal to pass through whether there is a bollard or not" and did "the job that Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police should have done".

What does the evidence say?

Last September, Cycling UK said the "clear evidence" does not support the often-pedalled claim that LTNs delay emergency services' response times and compared the line to "flat earther" views.

Following a Freedom of Information request from the same charity, not one of ten ambulance trusts operating in England, Scotland and Wales said they were against new cycling and walking facilities, with a third expressing strong support because of their public health and road safety benefits.

> London Fire Brigade says low traffic neighbourhoods have had no impact on response times

In the same year, the London Fire Brigade said: "We haven't yet noticed any impact on our attendance times due to the LTN schemes established in 2020; however, we will continue to monitor their impact at a local level."

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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