Halifax is hoping to try out some new ways to move cyclists and pedestrians with two new local street bikeways proposed for the north and west ends of the peninsula.
The Halifax and West Community Council voted unanimously in favour of the plans at a meeting on Tuesday, recommending regional council approve 4.4 km of new cycling infrastructure.
“In a few years, people may not even recognize the infrastructure that we have in Halifax, it’s going to be that much better than it is right now for sustainable transportation,” Coun. Shawn Cleary said Tuesday.
“I’m fully supportive of this report, I’m fully supportive of you guys, our staff, doing the job that you’re doing, and I’m really supportive of the other levels of government paying for most of it.”
Active transportation planner Siobhan Witherbee told the community council the two local street bikeways were both approved in principle as part of the Integrated Mobility Plan, and staff have been working on them for nearly two years.
In the north end, the bikeway will connect Africville Lookoff Park at North Ridge Road to Almon Street.
From North Ridge Road to Leeds Street, staff proposed a multi-use pathway, separate from the road, for cyclists and pedestrians.
Through the rest of the bikeway, bicycles are unprotected from vehicular traffic, but there are measures in place to slow motorists down.
Along Leaman and Isleville Streets, staff proposed speed tables — long speed bumps aligned with crosswalks that are easier for fire trucks to manoeuvre. At the intersections of Leaman and Normandy Streets and Isleville and Stanley Streets, staff proposed mini traffic circles to slow vehicular traffic. And there are bump outs planned for other intersections.
Witherbee said the mini traffic circles are new for Halifax.
“We’ve seen it in other cities across the country, in Fredericton, in Ottawa, in Vancouver, in Victoria, so we’re trying some of those along the corridor,” she said.
At the intersection of Young, Kaye and Isleville Streets, where the municipality has already been experimenting, staff proposed a trial run of an intersection treatment called a median refuge island.
“Gaps in the median will allow bicycles to pass straight through the intersection,” Witherbee wrote in the report. “Through movements by vehicles on Isleville Street and left hand turns from Young onto Isleville would be restricted. This median will be designed to be passable by emergency vehicles and snowplows in the winter.”
There’s a second phase of the north end bikeway to be completed in the future, running from Almon all the way south to Cogswell Street. Staff said they need to conduct further consultation before making any decisions with regard to that second phase.
In the west end, the bikeway will run from the painted bike lane on Windsor Street down through Westmount, splitting down to the West End Mall on Mumford Road or over to Bayers Road.
Municipal staff considered a protected bike lane running straight down Almon Street, but working with a consultant, they determined the municipality would have to cut down several mature street trees and remove accessible parking.
Instead, the plan is for a bikeway running down Liverpool Street, across Connaught Avenue, and then into Westmount. (There is still a future plan for a protected bike lane on Almon from Gottingen to Windsor.)
Mostly, the bikeway will use the same kinds of treatments as the north end — mini traffic circles, speed tables, and bump outs.
But staff also want to employ a jug handle to help cyclists turn left from Windsor onto Liverpool. The name makes sense looking at the photo below, where the bike lane curves around to the right, resembling the handle of a jug.
Cyclists will have to get off their bikes, activate a crosswalk and then walk across the street. The municipality is working to convince the provincial government to allow cyclists to stay on their bikes and cross in those situations.
The price of the two bikeways is steep, but as Cleary noted, Halifax is only footing a fraction of the bill.
Because the design isn’t finalized, there is no one number, but staff estimate the project will cost between $820,000 and $1.4 million, before tax.
Through the “Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program,” the federal government will pay 50% and the provincial government will pay 33% — leaving the municipality to cover 17% or up to $238,000.
The plan is to start work on the north end bikeway in 2021 and the west end bikeway in 2022, with both finished in 2023.
Regional council still has to approve the plans at a future meeting.
Two development agreements approved
The community council also approved two development agreements on Tuesday.
The first is an amendment to existing agreement for a seven-storey residential building at the corner of Isleville and Bilby streets. The amendment gives the developer more time to complete the project. That passed unanimously.
The second was the final step for a new project on Joseph Howe Drive. The 12-storey building from BANC Investments Ltd. was also unanimously approved.
I fully agree with the expansion of cycling infrastructure to the North End. Sounds like a complicated process but it will expand cycling options. But, I still think that Halifax is really behind the times when planning and investing in cycling as a real form of transportation, not just something you do in your spare time. I think that the Bedford Highway should include a dedicated cycling lane in both directions — all the way from the North End to Bedford. Yes, it would be expensive and complicated to do this, but what a wasted resource! A great, flat route in and out of the peninsula, which would incentivize more people to really commute on bikes as they do in other cities. Its time we stop dribbling money into this and really get serious about biking as a real form of transportation.
Yes, these proposals do nothing to address the two biggest obstacles to cycling, namely the MacDonald Bridge ramp, and the inability to access the Bedford Highway from the peninsula. More, and safer cycling infrastructure is always welcome, but the priorities seem misguided. Riding on Isleville or Almon at present is hardly challenging in any way.
Starting at the massive gates at South Park and Spring Garden take a jog through Public Gardens and then jog around Camp Hill cemetery with a few stops at several of the graves of famous people and then walk back down Spring Garden and enjoy a nice cool drink whilst watching the cyclists make their way to classes.
Hi Zane, great article. “Cross Rides” are referenced in one of the graphics above — what is that? I think it is a cross walk bikes can ride across but wasn’t sure. The graphic also mentions approval of them, do you know who would need to approve?
You’re right; it’s a crosswalk where cyclists can ride their bikes across. They’re illegal under the Motor Vehicle Act, although there are two under the Macdonald at Barrington and North because technically they’re multi-use pathways or some such technicality. The city is lobbying the provincial government to legalize them in the new Traffic Safety Act.