LTZs and where to find them

Still considered a mere Italian scheme, the often neglected Limited Traffic Zone UVAR typology is, on the contrary, implemented in many other EU countries (e.g., the car-free zone of Ghent). Within ReVeAL, we described the distinction between LEZ and LTZ in our first guidance note (available here), but more could be said about LTZs.

When in France, combine measures (or not?)

In the last years, attempts to clarify the difference between LTZ and LEZ (and other UVAR types) in France and the new LTZ in central Paris have been made.

This does not come as a surprise, as the new Mobility Orientation Law (LOM) has not yet clarified the difference between the two despite a huge debate and requests for amendment to the norm text.

It seems clear that the French understand that reducing the presence of cars in cities is essential for a more sustainable urban mobility. Also, limiting the urban sprawl that generates automobile traffic is not enough. As proposed by the Fédération Nationale des Associations d’Usagers des Transports (FNAUT) in their March-April 2021 Dossier Réduire la place de la voiture dans les zones denses, limiting cars access in dense areas with a combination of pedestrian zones, limited traffic zones and low emission zones could help to achieve a healthy, lively and peaceful city. These formulas, indeed, are different but very complimentary and can be modulated locally.

That being said, some experts do have their reservations about their combinations, and would probably focus more (or even more so exclusively) on the LTZ.

Madrid & Brussels: a LEZ looking a lot like an LTZ and tricky zone apaisée

The changes and the debate around Madrid Central (now renamed Madrid Distrito Centro) have been vexing mobility planners for a while now: the area, which consists of a UVAR promoted as “Priority LEZ”, is much more inspired by the Limited Traffic Zone scheme (more suited for the context and the overall objective of reducing traffic in the city centre).

Confusion in terminology and definition is not only a Spanish (or French) thing, though. Brussels itself (and in particular the central commune of Ixelles) has been scratching its figurative head to tell apart the different zone à accès limité (ZAL), zone apaisée, and zone à trafic limité (ZTL, as in the Regulation text) to solve the problems of drivers’ behaviour, information/signage and camera enforcement in the commune.

That is not an easy task, considering that since the establishment of the zone apaisée on the Chaussée d’Ixelles and in certain adjacent streets in October 2018, several tens of thousands of fines have been imposed – a result of the complex mapping that layers different kinds of UVARs at once and the persistent problem in signage understanding. Though in the years – and especially since COVID-19 – the zone apaisée has become better known and traffic was thus reduced, there was a drop in fines, though not as relevant as expected.

Telling LEZs and LTZs apart for the future

Authorities use exemptions and/or permits in the implementation of LEZs and LTZs. LEZs and LTZs each have a different aim, premise and approach, especially with respect to exemptions and permits.

A LEZ requires that all vehicles entering it meet a set emission standard in order to reduce pollution emissions. Emissions standards are generally valid for all relevant LEZs, and exemptions are generally either local or national.

An LTZ aims to restrict the number of vehicles entering the zone to a certain user and/or vehicle category. A vehicle may enter the LTZ only if the user has been granted a permit in advance.

For the future of UVARs, it is important to underline that LEZs and LTZs follow two different approaches and philosophies, and that, for this very reason, they can be combined or alternatively used depending on the needs of a city.

Remember: LEZ aims to reduce emissions by excluding the most polluting vehicles; LTZ aims to reduce traffic by limiting access only to essential motorised trips.

They are not, and shall not be considered the same thing.