Opposition councillors have warned that proposed changes to the A1000 cycle lane in Finchley will make it “less safe”.

The Liberal Democract group has called on Barnet Council to halt the roll-out of alterations to the route which they say were agreed “without considering the safety of women, children, older and disabled people”.

Recently-agreed changes to the two-mile lane, which was installed in 2020 between Bishops Avenue and Tally Ho Corner, include moving cyclists to shared footways or smaller lanes to allow segregated bus and cycle lanes to be reopened to general traffic.

The council says the alterations are being made in response to feedback from the local community, but the Lib Dems claim they could put pedestrians and cyclists at risk, and have asked the council’s monitoring officer to advise whether they were “passed in a lawful manner”.

Read more: Barnet councillors criticise A1000 cycle lane in Finchley

Group leader Gabriel Rozenberg said: “These changes have been decided without any road safety audit or equality impact assessment, even though we raised this as an important issue at the council meeting in January. Labour and Conservatives agreed this without there even being a road safety audit in place yet. We do not believe these changes are fair or lawful.

“We believe using money from a grant to build a cycle lane, to remove sections of a cycle lane and downgrade others to below the statutory guidance, puts future highways funding at risk. We have written to Barnet [Council] about this.”

The Lib Dems claim diverting cyclists on to the pavement between Sandringham Avenue and Summers Lane, separating them from pedestrians by only a painted line, does not take into account the needs of pedestrians.

Removing the shared bus and cycle lane on the bridge over the A406 and replacing it with a narrower cycle lane could make the flyover “much less safe for all users”, they added.

The cycle lane on the A1000 (Image: Google Maps)

The cycle lane on the A1000 (Image: Google Maps)

When the original lane was installed using a legal tool known as a temporary traffic order, it required an equalities impact assessment to gauge its effects on different groups of people. The changes are being made using a new temporary traffic order, but the Lib Dems pointed out that no such assessment was presented to the committee meeting where they were outlined on 8th March.

A consultation on the changes is now underway, ahead of a further consultation on the future of the cycle lane later this year.

Responding to the comments, Dean Cohen, Conservative chairman of the environment committee, said: “This was an experimental lane, and one which could always be adapted for what is actually best for cyclists and other road users. The point of experimental schemes such as these is to see what works and what doesn’t.

“That is why we consistently have consulted on the scheme, and why we have made, are making, and will continue to make alterations to the scheme”.

Labour environment spokesperson Alan Schneiderman said: “Barnet Labour councillors support the planned full consultation on the A1000 cycle lane and would encourage everyone to have their say. We want to work with local residents and cyclists to deliver a better scheme and one that is safer for all pedestrians and cyclists.”

Cllr Schneiderman said councillors were not given a vote on the changes on 8th March because the committee report was only for noting and suggested the Lib Dems had either misrepresented Labour’s position or misunderstood the workings of the council.

A council spokesperson said: “The A1000 cycle and bus lane scheme was introduced as part of a nationwide government-funded emergency response to the Covid-19 crisis.

“The A1000 had previously been identified as a road corridor for sustainable green transport in Barnet Council’s consulted-on-and-adopted long-term transport strategy (LTTS). This strategy is committed to ensuring that ‘transport contributes positively to the health of the borough by prioritising active travel and ensuring continued improvement in air quality’. The designation of the road within the LTTS and its layout lent itself to the rapid programme of design and installation set by the government’s emergency funding requirements.

“A report to the environment committee earlier in the month noted a commitment to carry out a consultation in the spring and summer of 2022 to assess whether the scheme should be retained, modified or removed. Recommendations following this consultation are expected to be reported back to the environment committee in the autumn of 2022.”