A network of cycle routes could be created across Barnet as part of a plan to cut car journeys and improve air quality.

A proposal for cycle routes focusing on “corridors of high demand” is included in the borough’s Long-term Transport Strategy, which was approved by councillors on Wednesday (September 9).

The routes could link key town centres, with connections between Highgate, North Finchley and Totteridge and Whetstone seen as priorities by Transport for London (TfL).

A survey by TfL in 2018 revealed only two per cent of trips in Barnet were cycled – a significantly lower proportion than in some neighbouring boroughs. In Haringey, the figure was eight per cent.

The transport strategy says designated cycle routes can overcome one of the main barriers to cycling by reducing the number of collisions by 50 per cent – rising to 90 per cent for protected cycle lanes.

A cycle network was backed by 81 per cent of those who responded to a consultation on the plans, with those surveyed considering it to be the most important scheme proposed in the document.

The transport strategy, which covers the next two decades, includes several other proposals to reduce the number of car journeys.

It aims to make walking “the natural mode for short journeys in Barnet”, proposing measures such as school streets, low-traffic neighbourhoods and improvements to footways as means of doing so.

Express and orbital bus routes are also included in the document to provide better public transport connections between the east and west of the borough.

Although cars will continue to be used for some journeys, the strategy proposes car clubs and more electric vehicle charging points to encourage greener alternatives to traditional car use.

The document acknowledges that the delivery of the proposed measures will depend to some extent on external funding sources such as TfL and the Government, as the council is unable to cover the full costs on its own.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the environment committee, Labour councillors criticised the document over what they claimed was a lack of focus on orbital transport facilities.

Cllr Geof Cooke (Labour, Woodhouse) said there was “a lot of good stuff” in the paper but not enough on the need to lobby TfL and the Government for resources to improve facilities such as the proposed West London Orbital railway line.

But Cllr Peter Zinkin (Conservative, Childs Hill), said the strategy recognises Barnet Council cannot sponsor a railway line and “addresses the issues that Barnet can influence, which is improving bus services in the area”.

When it came to the vote, Labour abstained on several recommendations – including the adoption of the strategy – while Conservative members voted in favour.