Low-traffic areas are slowing down 999 responses because paramedics don’t know the road changes, an ambulance chief has revealed.
Garrett Emmerson, who stepped down as chairman of the London Ambulance Service last month, said some paramedics were caught when roads were changed “very quickly” during the lockdown.
There were more than 150 separate cases of Low Traffic Neighborhoods (LTNs) slowing down ambulance personnel in London over an eight-month period, it emerged earlier this year.
Garrett told LBC radio that the LTNs do not appear on SatNavs, meaning crews were hindered in areas they were unfamiliar with.
He said: ‘It’s good if you know the area, but our crews work all over London. Then if they go into an area of London that they know less well and rely on satellite navigation that is not up to date – a new restriction has been put in place – that’s where a lot of the problems arise.’
Garrett Emmerson (right, with Boris Johnson), who stepped down as chairman of the London Ambulance Service last month, said some paramedics were caught when roads were changed ‘very quickly’ during the lockdown
Motorists dug up flowers and destroyed plants as part of their angry protest against Low Traffic Neighborhoods in Dulwich Village, South London
LTNs were turned on during the lockdown last year to divert traffic away from residential areas.
The government has insisted that the 200 LTNs created in the UK during the pandemic have received more support than criticism.
However, the measure – which involved building cycle paths, closing roads to through traffic and widening sidewalks – has proved unpopular with motorists, particularly London commuters and taxi drivers.
The neighborhoods were widely touted for blocking emergency vehicles, with video footage surfacing showing fire engines stopping and crews being forced to run to the site.
There were more than 150 separate cases of Low Traffic Neighborhoods (LTNs) slowing down ambulance personnel in London over an eight-month period, it emerged earlier this year. Pictured last year, a steady stream of patients was taken to the Royal London Hospital
The government has insisted that 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 couldn’t “say for sure” the delays caused by the LTNs for lives, but said the speed at which they were built was the biggest issue.
He added: ‘Have they delayed responses? Yes, I think in certain situations they delayed certain reactions because they had to be introduced very quickly.’
About 159 delays to 999 calls were noted 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 “have not extended response times,” according to the government’s analysis of more than 100,000 emergency calls since they were implemented.
In March, a controversial cycle path in London blocked three emergency vehicles in just 24 hours.
A blue lit fire engine was stopped (pictured), the driver of a police car had to turn around and an ambulance had to swing between traffic after a traffic jam developed on Chiswick High Road in west London
A blue lit fire engine was stopped, the driver of a police car had to turn around and an ambulance had to swerve between traffic after the traffic jams developed on Chiswick High Road in west London.
Video footage of a flat overlooking the busy road with cycle path 9 shows that the emergency services struggled to get past slow-moving cars and buses in three separate incidents today and yesterday.
Another video shows a blue lit fire truck wedged between a wooden planter and a parked white car in Ferndale, South London.
As firefighters dump the vehicle and make the short walk to the nearby incident, you hear an angry resident rage at the plan, saying, “You’re trying to say this is good for us?”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan oversaw the rapid construction of a bicycle network using temporary plastic posts
Earlier Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the parliamentary group for fair fuel, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One that the plans were in ‘ridiculous places’.
In January, Judge Lang ruled that London’s ‘Streetspace’ plan… ‘seriously flawed’ and ‘took advantage of the pandemic’ to implement ‘radical’ and permanent changes in London‘s roads.
The lanes sparked criticism from motorists for increasing congestion, and one on Kensington High Street was removed late last year after a local protest.
In addition to cycle paths, Streetspace – which was built last May – saw the implementation of bus gates, banned exits and restricted access to streets in low-traffic areas in London with the aim of encouraging walking and cycling.
Another video shows the blue lit emergency vehicle sandwiched between a wooden planter and a parked white vehicle in Ferndale, South London
The fire truck became blocked as it attempted to enter a road closed to motorized vehicles. Firefighters had to continue on foot after he became trapped between a planter and a car
An unknown female vigilante took it upon herself to defend drivers who were fined £130 after Hounslow council quietly turned a popular road into a bus lane. The ‘Turnham Green fairy’ was regularly spotted in a high-vis coat in Chiswick
In November, it was reported that motorists had used guerrilla tactics to battle London’s increasing number of bike lanes, as some tips were shared online for removing bollards.
It followed a legal challenge by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) and United Trade Action Group (UTAG) against the decision to bar taxi drivers from the new Bishopsgate Bus Gate scheme.
The plan was part of plans to make the area one of the largest car-free zones in the world.
In the lengthy and detailed judgment, Justice Lang noted that refusing taxis to London’s roads could have ‘serious consequences’ for passengers unable to walk, cycle or use public transport and that ‘the needs of those with protected characteristics, including elderly or disabled’, were ‘not taken into account’.